The Friends of Raleigh Park

#RaleighParkOx

@RaleighparkOxford

Subscriptions for 2023-24

The Friends subscriptions of £5 per person are now due for the year 2023 - 2024. Please preferably make a standing order to 20-65-18 a/c 93057402 to Friends of Raleigh Park with reference your name or send a cheque to Stephen Parkinson (Chairman) 8 Yarnells Hill, Oxford, OX2 9BD. Tel 01865 724525 or contact David Brown (Secretary) [email protected].

If you are interested in taking an active role in the Friends or make a donation, please come forward. The Chair and Secretary will be happy to discuss what is involved.

We comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. The data we hold is your email address and subscription; this data has not and will never be shared with anyone.

Dates for your calendar:

Sat May 25 2024 - Friends of Raleigh Park Volunteers

Next work party is Sat May 25 2024, we meet at the entrance to Raleigh Park from the footpath off Raleigh Park Road at 9:30 at location what3words melt.rarely.wedge

Previous tasks included scything and raking the bridleway fen and removing pendulous sedge flowers before they set seed. Friends of Raleigh Park workparties are normally led by Adam Bows and are covered by The Freshwater Habitat's Trust insurance. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Friends of Raleigh Park volunteers normally meet at 09:30 - 13:30 on the last Saturday of the month.

Also, a reminder about ticks. To my knowledge they have not been a problem at Raleigh Park but will certainly be present. To avoid tick bites and the risk of Lyme disease, please wear closed toe footwear, long trousers tucked into socks, and long sleeved shirt tucked into trousers. Some people like to spray their clothes with insect repellent too. Advice on avoiding tick bites and Lyme disease can be found here

Sat June 1st 2024 - 2pm Visit to Lye Valley

The Friends have organised a visit to see the effect of conservation work at the alkaline fen on the spring flowers, orchids and wildlife. The visit will be led by the ecologist Judy Webb.

New house building next to the Raleigh Park Fen

Unfortunately the inspector has allowed development right next to the stream feeding the Raleigh Park fen. He has believed the Developer's argument that the area of the development was a tiny fraction of the cachement of the fen and would therefore have little effect when in fact acidic runoff from the site directly into the fen in a downpour would overwhelm the tiny stream and damage its alkaline ecology.

Green Spaces Walk

The Botley and North Hinksey Parish Council organised a walk on Saturday 13th April for a guided walk around Raleigh Park (led by Friends of Raleigh Park) among other visits.

OPT award

The Friends received the Oxford Preservation Trust 2022 award for our work on the restoration of the fen.

Objectives

The objectives of the Friends of Raleigh Park are to protect, conserve and enhance the Park, which is a Local Wildlife Site, for the benefit of the community.

News

Botley and North Hinksey Parish Council and private donations have enabled the installation of noticeboards by Oxford City Council. We now need the gate by the Westminister Way entrance to be improved from its current state (a quagmire)

Cattle in the Park

Cattle are currently out of Raleigh Park. They graze the Park all summer. They reduce the rank grass and nettles and encourage the development of wild flowers. If left uncut the brambly thorny growth and trees will increase and the park will become entirely scrubby woodland.

When cattle are present give them a wide berth. Cattle have an instinctive fear of wolves and may be agressive to dogs so it is advisable to keep dogs well under control and preferably out of sight of the cattle particularly towards dusk as they become frisky before bedding down for the night. If there are any issues please contact the farmer (07887701011) or the Parks Dept [email protected] or the Friends of Raleigh Park [email protected]. For any urgent enquiries please contact the Parks duty officer 07768238906

AGM 2023

The Chairman gave his report for the year. Adam Bows' documentation of the excellent progress in the rewetting of the fen was presented by the Chairman. Summary Report - Raleigh Park & Chilswell Valley Surveys 17092023. Appendix 1 - Chilswell Valley Botanical survey data 2023. Appendix 2 - Raleigh Park Botanical survey data 2023. Appendix 3 - Principal and Rare Fen Plants 2023.

The Chairman gave a brief reflection on the contributions of Carol Kramer, who passed away on 18 August in his report.

Clive Smith gave a nest box report. Many of the bird boxes need to be replaced or resited due to damage or wear and tear. The bird feeder was well used.

Barbara Witkowski presented the successful work of the Oxford Badger group doing badger vaccination.

OCC led the Oxford Volunteers installing a gravel path down a muddy incline. They have not yet installed a proposed bench at a viewpoint.

Two signboards funded by the Friends are to be installed by the OCC at entrances to the site. A further one is planned.

The Chairman presented the accounts for 2022-2023. The balance of £626.94 includes a generous gift of £150.

A memorial birch tree has been planted but because of the problem it would cause by seeding the fen it will be replaced by a disease resistant elm.

Butterfly egg hunts and walks should resume in 2024.

Cag Oxfordshire was suggested as a source of volunteers.

Badgers

Natural England have granted the badger vaccination licence for Raleigh park to the Oxfordshire Badger Group (OBG) who have successfully completed the task.

Description

Raleigh Park is located in the village of North Hinksey near Oxford ( Location map ) It contains lightly managed fields with three ponds linked by a stream, very unusual alkaline bog areas, trees, grasses, marestail, stately marsh thistle and wild flowers.

Be aware of health and safety if pond-dipping; we are expecting to install a platform in due course.

Buzzards, red kites, roe deer, muntjac deer and foxes are frequent visitors while badgers, moles, song birds, rabbits and other rodents and bats are resident. Song birds like to visit the bird feeder; watch the feeding birds scatter as a sparrowhawk arrives:

Tree Planting

Disease resistant elm trees have been planted with help from Butterfly Conservation. Small leafed lime is the other species currently allowed to be planted in the park with agreement of the landowners (Oxford City Council) and the Friends of Raleigh Park.

Resistant Elm Resistant Elm
Tree Planting Feb 2020
Butterfly Survey You may have noticed some tags attached to blackthorn branches, these mark the eggs of the brown hairsreak butterfly located by volunteers lead by Steve Wooliams of Butterfly Conservation. The brown hairstreak has undergone a substantial decline due to hedgerow removal and annual flailing, which removes eggs.

Butterfly surveys normally start in the spring when the butterflies start emerging from their chrysalises, they need the warmth to fly. We hope to resume our leisurely walk noting the butterfly species we encounter.

We also would look at the flora and insects. Thanks to Ian Marriott for the wonderful flora and insect photos.

Conservation Management

Wild Oxford in Raleigh Park

Oxford City Councils Countryside Team are working in partnership with the Friends of Raleigh Park and BBOWT to carry out works to improve the habitat and open up the views of the City from areas of the Park. We have received a Letter of Commendation from the Oxford Preservation Trust in recognition of these works which are the subject of a scientific study proposal resulting in a dissertation by Adam Bows discussing the outcomes of the Wild Oxford initiative of 2021.

Judy Webb has completed excellent reports with a list of recommendations for future workparties in the Park.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust funded an invertebrate survey . They also funded the work done in rewetting the fen involving constructing leaky dams, filling in the ditch, digging ponds and clearing scrub.

Willows overgrowing the pond have been thinned, vegetation overgrowing the stream removed, a waterfall rebuilt and removal of Himalayan Balsam and Greater Reed Mace from boggy areas, parrot's feather from the pond and new bramble growth on the fen areas by the stream is ongoing. Yellow Rattle wild flower seeds have been collected and sown in late autumn to weaken the coarse grasses.

Roman road

There is what is believed to be the remains of the Roman road towards the ford which gives Oxford its name from the direction of Besselsleigh running parallel to the current road up Harcourt Hill. The outline of the raised metalled section with a ditch each side is clearly evident under the turf in winter or when the grass has been cut. A Lidar map of Raleigh Park 2024 also shows ridges from medieval strip farming visible parallel to Westminster Way.

Mystery Obelisk

There is a small oblelisk near the pond. The sun is shining revealing the date 1753 in the picture (click on the picture to enlarge it) and placing plasticine in the depressions reveals more of the inscription, probably "the Conduit". Conduit House (marked Well House) had been constructed over a spring to supply Oxford with water in 1615-17 and is within a kilometer of the obelisk (marked Stones on the OS map). The obelisk presumably marked the location of a chamber holding water for an extension to a channel or vaulted gully diverting a spring to Conduit House.

A cutting and embankment constructed to smooth the slope of a track linking Harcourt Hill to the track between North Hinksey and Yarnells Hill is shown on the map and the of the land handed over to the City of Oxford in 1926 and its construction has covered this channel on the obelisk side or the embankment.

A curved depression leading towards Conduit House visible on the other side of the embankment from the obelisk and on the Lidar map of Raleigh Park supports this interpretation of the writing on the obelisk.