Rushy Common Nature Reserve is a 22ha former gravel pit within the Lower Windrush Valley in West Oxfordshire. The nature reserve is part of a comprehensive restoration scheme for the Gill Mill quarry complex.
Prior to mineral extraction, Rushy Common was an area of permanent pasture with an improved sward of mainly ryegrass, clover and a few other common grasses. The approved restoration plan has enhanced the biodiversity of the site by creating a mosaic of new habitats that includes grassland, thorn scrub, ditch areas, species rich native hedgerow, a 14 hectare lake, with extensive shallows and islands, and two ponds. The lake and ponds support a very diverse macroinvertebrate community of 96 species. Existing species rich hedgerow also forms the western boundary. A car park and bird hide will allow controlled access to the site, which will open to the public this autumn.
A series of ecological surveys has been undertaken to inform the final phases of restoration and help manage habitats and species at the site in the longer term, in order to contribute to local, regional and UK biodiversity targets. Maintaining the conservation value of the lake is an important target for Rushy Common based on the South East BAP.
The overall restoration scheme was developed in consultation with partner organisations. The Lower Windrush Valley Project provides the focus for this partnership approach, which actively involves Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, the Environment Agency, Pond Conservation and Oxford Ornithological Society. Priority BAP species at this site include the bullfinch, cuckoo, linnet, starling, dunnock, Eurasian curlew, greater scaup, herring gull, reed bunting, song thrush, yellow wagtail and yellowhammer.
Rushy Common recently won a commendation in the Natural England Biodiversity Awards and at the same event the company was rewarded for its “substantial commitment” to the cause of biodiversity by the Mineral Products Association. You can watch the video here.