Gavray Meadows is situated next to Langford Village on its north side. It is an area of about 12 hectares and is the only natural green space on the east side of Bicester. It connects to Langford Fields through Langford Brook. All three form part of the environment of Langford Village as much as does the civic centre. As part of our environment, we should be aware of the Meadows and care for it and its future. If it is built on, Langford Fields will have less variety of wildlife and will be a less pleasant place to walk in. I think that we all know that green space enhances the desirability of our houses and their market value. WHY are we not caring for this green space and WHY are we allowing the building of many houses with tiny “back yards” on Gavray Meadows without raising any protests?
I have just managed to get the Environment Agency to stop dumping of waste by factories on the Chaucer Industrial Park (north of Gavray Meadows) into Langford Brook as it flows past their old drains. Langford Village is named after Langford Brook and not vice versa. It is a very old water course arising near Stratton Audley and is used by sheep for drinking water. Its health is essential for our enjoyment of Langford Fields. Langford Fields and Gavray Meadows form a continuum, and animals and plant seeds travel freely between the two sites. Many of you walk your dogs over Langford Fields and worry about them going into Langford Brook to drink or cool off. I want a clean Brook so that people do not have to be afraid of getting a huge vet’s bill for curing their dog’s infections. All animals including ourselves need clean water. It is a requisite of life. Residents of Langford should be concerned and take an interest in the fate of our Brook and all of the ponds. I see the kingfisher and the heron regularly fishing in the balancing ponds. If you drop dog poo and fast food rubbish in these ponds, fish will die and you will no longer see these beautiful birds. Reed warblers arrive every spring to nest in the reeds of the middle pond which unfortunately looks like it is becoming very dirty due to non-caring humans dumping rubbish in it.
I know from my Community Facebook page that many people are concerned about wildlife. They want its conservation and they enjoy seeing it. Animals in the wild are far more interesting than caged examples. Children, especially, need to learn about animals in our environment because it teaches them to care for those weaker than themselves. Kindness to animals equates to kindness to other humans and such an attitude will last a lifetime. Gavray Meadows is where any one can learn to appreciate how certain species have co-evolved over centuries to adapt to old farming methods. They have adapted so well that their very existence is now under threat unless we save them by making some small sacrifices.
Since I have been photographing birds and butterflies living on the Gavray Meadows I have learnt an enormous amount about habitats, biodiversity and digital photography. Whereas before, all small birds looked like sparrows, now I see the differences and have photographed rarities in the most unexpected places within walking distance. The old trees alone, and the history of the farming land and hedges make Gavray Meadows worthy of preservation, let alone all the animals that depend on unimproved lowland farmland. Ecology is a science and will be a future employment opportunity as we struggle to maintain our planet in a healthy state. Ecologists use huge databases and complex mapping layers to record myriads of changes in animal and plant populations. Their work is necessary to our survival. If we want some green space left we have to make sacrifices and work for the survival of species. The easiest way to start is to take an interest in and care for what is on your own doorstep: Langford Fields, the Brook and Gavray Meadows.
Pat Clissold (DPhil)