We Love Rural Oxfordshire: Save Gavray Meadows film produced with support from CPRE Oxon

Hulton Park

11th February 2020

Photo credit: Dr Pat Clissold

CPRE Oxfordshire has been supporting communities across the county to produce a film celebrating their local area and explaining why it needs protecting from development.

The latest film, produced by the Save Gavray Meadows campaign group, can be watched below or on the CPRE Oxfordshire YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unu2QJCW_xE

Gavray Meadows has been an accredited Local Wildlife Site since 2001 and is the only remaining area of untouched damp grassland in the Bicester area. Despite this, it is threatened by development.

It is bounded on its west side by Langford Brook which feeds into the River Ray and provides water, food and habitats for birds and insects. The Brook also maintains the level of the water table underground and in past times the meadows were very wet in winter. To the present day the vegetation is typical of damp lowland meadows which is now fast disappearing from the UK.

Grazing cattle maintained the grasses and flowers and stopped overgrowth of the Meadow by trees and brambles. Its ecology enables “lowland specialist” birds to thrive. The reason for the steep decline of birds like the turtle dove over the last 50 years is the loss of lowland farmland. Experts say 97 per cent of the nation’s meadows have been eradicated since the 1930s, with popular species like wild strawberry, ragged robin and harebell facing steep declines.  Butterflies such as the brown hairstreak which need sloe for their caterpillars are badly affected by indiscriminate hedge trimming. Victorian farmers left areas of coppiced woodland with larger trees to protect their cattle in winter. The small wood at the north end of Gavray Meadows provides roosting for bats and shelter for small birds.

Gavray has a large bird population including many migratory warblers. Raptors such as kestrels, sparrow hawks, buzzards and Red Kites regularly visit Gavray. Other animals seen are foxes, Muntjacs and rabbits.

Gavray is not only a wildlife site but a living history of our English heritage. It must be preserved before we forget our history of the way common people lived for hundreds of years and our debt to farming life and our beautiful countryside. 

The film was made for Save Gavray Meadows by Arrowsmith Productions. Narrated by Dr Pat Clissold. Visit the Save Gavray Meadow Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/savegavraywildlifemeadows/

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