Nature Under Threat
The area is beautiful at all times of year. The fields are home to horses and wild animals: hares, deer, badgers, foxes, polecats, stoats wander freely. Birds of conservation concern (4 with Schedule 1 protection status and 12 species from BoCC4 Red list) flourish, for example, yellowhammers and linnets in the hedgerows, skylarks and grey partridge in the fields. Birds of prey such as little owls, barn owls, hobbies, buzzards, kestrels thrive on the meadows. Ravens and peregrine falcons nest on the pylons. Herons from the Furze Brake heronry (Oxfordshire’s largest with 60 nests), just east of the proposed Culham development, would be seriously threatened. The Grey Herons were filmed by the BBC’s ‘The One Show’ in April 2015 at the southwest edge of Furze Brake: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02q86cj
The status of the heronry was reviewed in the recently published ‘Birds of Oxfordshire 2012’, published by the Oxford Ornithological Society. The authors concluded that the ‘wood and heronry is somewhat protected by its remoteness and inaccessibility to visitors. The road and housing [of the proposed developments] in particular will inevitably result in greatly increased access making it much more likely that unacceptable levels of disturbance will occur. Conservationists will need to argue or fight to make sure that we don’t lose this site holding a significant component of our Grey Heron population, due to the march of progress’. Were this development to go ahead all this nature would be concreted over and lost for ever.
‘Schedule 1’ protection status means with penalties of an unlimited fine and/or 6 month prison sentence if the birds or their nests are damaged or disrupted.