South Oxfordshire Parishes
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.
Wooded Estate Slopes and Valley Sides
Site Code: 79I02/1
Grid Ref: SU728972
Aston Rowant SSSI
Aston Rowant is a large area of the Chilterns escarpment either side of the M40 cutting. It is owned by English Nature and is a National Nature Reserve. It is particularly important for its chalk grassland and ancient and other long established beech woodland habitat. Both are national nature conservation priorities. Ancient woodland is defined as sites that have been continuously wooded since 1600AD though most of woodland at Aston Rownat is more recent in origin. There are also stands of scrub amongst the chalk grassland which include juniper, the small native conifer, which has become increasingly rare and is also a national priority for nature conservation.
The woodland canopy is mainly beech with some oak, wild cherry and ash. Woodland wildflowers that can be seen here include sanicle, yellow archangel, violet and white helleborines and sweet woodruff. The extensive areas of chalk grassland show considerable variation with much of it rich in chalk grassland wildflowers. These include Chiltern gentian and pyramidal, frog, common spotted, bee, early purple and butterfly orchids. The nationally scarce wild candytuft is found in heavily rabbit grazed areas amongst the scrub.
Extensive survey work has recorded over 500 species of invertebrates at Aston Rowant including many rare and uncommon species. The silver-spotted skipper butterfly, a national priority species for nature conservation is present here. Over 50 bird species have been recorded nesting at Aston Rowant including sparrowhawk, tawny owl, woodcock, woodpeckers, willow tit, garden warbler, whitethroat and turtle dove. The latter is also a national nature conservation priority.
Site Code: 79I05/1
Aston Rowant Cutting SSSI
When the M40 was built a large cutting was made through the Chilterns escapement. This produced fossil rich rock exposures that are important to the understanding of geological history.