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Waterstock Notes - July 2023

by Rosalind Portman

Great Crested Newts (GCNs*), Bats and Cuckoos
The hunt has been on for GCNs this month as Greystoke contracted an ecological firm to carry out pond surveys on the golf course and surrounding pieces of land, including the pond at the Old Rectory. A team of ecologists have come from Banbury at regular intervals late in the evenings, to place newt container traps and shine torches into murky water, then returning at 6.30 the following morning to inspect the traps. Rodney and Henry have been with them providing local knowledge. The surveys have confirmed that there are GCNs and other species of GCNs in the Old Rectory Pond but not as many as a previous survey, undertaken by the river Thame Board Conservation Trust had found, this
reduction could be due to the presence of a pair of grass snakes which were seen swimming around. It could also be due to the surveys taking place rather late in the GCN pond season. The surveyors informed us that they had found GCNs in the big pond by the Mill. They also told us theyhave been carrying out bat surveys and have found several species of bat around the big pond and elsewhere.

Also we have enjoyed regular cuckoo song over the past two weeks, coming from the edge of the golf course.

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* Great Crested Newts are the biggest newt species in the UK and have been around for approximately 40 million years. They are widely distributed throughout Britain but this distribution is extremely patchy; they’re absent from Ireland and have disappeared from many sites across Europe. They are the largest of our native newt species. During the breeding season males develop a jagged crest which has a break at the base of the tail and females take on a ‘bulky’ appearance.

Skin is black or dark brown and has a rough, ‘warty’ appearance. Underside is bright orange with irregular black
blotches. Males have a crest along their backs which is more pronounced during the breeding season. Males have a white flash on the tail and females a yellow/orange one.

ParishPapers to be stored in the church
Spring cleaning activities in the Church have been triggered by the call for storage from Mike Haffey at the Parish meeting and from retired Chair Michael, who holds countless records of past meetings, legal battles and even parish mags dating from the 1970s. Where should they go? The church was the most obvious place as the only public building in the village.

The Ashbys and the Siddles have kindly offered a filing cabinet and a strong locked cupboard which will hold a great deal, alongside stackable plastic boxes. The redundant pew is now being re-housed and the bier moved out of the corner behind the organ to free up some space. Carole and I also decluttered the vestry, big time, to make way for new storage. In doing so we came across a piece of history in the form of a small coin.

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Below is Michael Tyce’s response:

The coin is delightful and interesting. It is an early Victorian 1843 silver groat (fourpence) and if
it were in “fine” condition would be worth about £34.00.

The most interesting thing is that the date almost coincides with the beginning of discussions about rebuilding the chancel in 1840 . Although the works eventually carried out, which have caused all the trouble, were not done until 1857 by GE Street.

The groat might well therefore have been dropped by G.E. Street himself, or Wm. Ashhurst perhaps in
conversation with him. If a worker had dropped it he would have made sure he found it as it would be half the average 8p daily wage then.

The plan is for this coin to be mounted, framed and hung back on the vestry wall.