The following wildlife habitats fall within this parish. They are listed according to their associated landscape type or local character area.
If you want more information about any of the sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) listed below, take a look at English Nature's Nature on the Map website. It may also be possible to find out a bit more about the unnamed wildlife habitats in the parish by contacting the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org) and quoting the site code next to the habitat description.
The majority of these wildlife habitats are on private land and access to them is not possible without permission of the landowner, unless there is a statutory right of way. However, many wildlife habitats in the county are open to the public. More information on these can be obtained from the Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum.
Site Code: 51X01
Murcott Meadows SSSI
Murcott Meadows is a group of hay meadows that have escaped agricultural improvement through he use of fertilizers and herbicides or through ploughing and reseeding. Consequently the meadows are flower rich. This type of grassland is a national nature conservation priority. The meadows are a nature reserve called Asham Meads managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.
The meadows have the distinctive ridges and furrows which are a sign of medieval ploughing but also a sign of a long period without disturbance. Wildflowers found here include green-winged orchid, the uncommon spineless meadow thistle, dyer’s greenweed, dropwort and devil’s-bit scabious. The furrows are wetter with an abundance of rushes and wildflowers that prefer wetter conditions such as lesser spearwort. The site also includes a small area of woodland, thick species rich hedgerows and a pond. The nationally scarce black hairstreak butterfly is found in the hedgerows and wood edge where the caterpillars feed on blackthorn.
Site Code: 61C01
Whitecross Green and Oriel Woods SSSI
Whitecross Green and Oriel Woods straddle the county boundary south of Bicester. The site is a nature reserve managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. The woods are ancient woodland which means the site has been continuously wooded since at least 1600AD. There are good areas which retain the composition of old woodland with native trees and shrubs. Such woodland is a national priority for nature conservation. However large parts of the site were felled and replanted with conifers in the past and these areas are now being converted back to broadleaved woodland.
The old broadleaved woodland has a canopy of oak with hazel, maple and ash coppice*. There is much blackthorn in the shrub layer. The nationally scarce black hairstreak butterfly, which requires blackthorn, is present in the woods. There is a rich variety of woodland wildflowers on the ground including helleborines, bluebells, yellow archangel and sanicle. There are wide grassy tracks with a mixture of woodland and grassland wildflowers including greater butterfly orchid, tormentil, centaury and yellow rattle. There are also marshy areas with wetland wildflowers and a pond. The woods are rich in animal life. This is one of the few sites in Oxfordshire where nightingale breeds regularly. Grass snakes are often seen and great crested newts, which are a national priority species, use the pond. Other butterflies recorded here include wood white, purple emperor and white admiral
*Coppicing is a traditional form of management where small multi-stemmed trees and shrubs are cut down to the ground at regular intervals producing a harvest of small branches.