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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Site of Special Scientific Interest angle ...

Crickley Hill & Barrow Wake comprise an SSSI. The English Nature link is here: Crickley Hill And Barrow Wake. Here may be found the SSSI citation, operations requiring the consent of English Nature, English Nature's views about the management of the site and its condition which is generally good, you'll be pleased to hear.

I have delved around the web and inserted links to pages about the species mentioned in the citation so you can see what they look like for identification purposes. The citation reads as follows:

"The site lies on the Cotswold scarp south of Cheltenham. A range of habitats characteristic of the Cotswold limestone are represented, including species rich grassland, scrub and semi-natural woodland, together with nationally important rock exposures.

Biology: Several types of grassland occur, from short fescue
Festuca dominated swards, to lightly grazed and tall ungrazed tor-grass Brachypodium pinnatum and upright brome Bromus erectus grassland. The species rich turf contains many calcicole (lime-loving) herbs such as small scabious Scabiosa columbaria, clustered bellflower Campanula glomerata and chalk milkwort Polygala calcarea. Several orchids occur, including early-purple orchid Orchis mascula and bee orchid Ophrys apifera with the notable musk orchid Herminium monorchis locally frequent. Viper's-bugloss Echium vulgare is abundant in places, associated with open grassland and bare limestone. The diversity of the vegetation contributes to a rich and varied invertebrate fauna.

Butterflies include the chalkhill blue
Lysandra coridon, green hairstreak Callophrys rubi, marsh fritillary Eurodryas aurinia and Duke of Burgundy fritillary Hamearis lucina. Also recorded is the notable cistus forester moth Adscita geryon and the very local snail Abida secale. Scattered and dense scrub occurs over several parts of the site. Species include hawthorn Crataegus monogyna, hazel Corylus avellana, elder Sambucus nigra, wayfaring-tree Viburnum lantana and gorse Ulex europaeus.

The site includes the Scrubbs, an area of woodland dominated by mature beech, with abundant regeneration of beech
Fagus sylvatica and ash Fraxinus excelsior. Hazel coppice occurs to the west of the wood, elsewhere the understorey is sparse. The ground flora includes dog's mercury Mercurialis perennis, sanicle Sanicula europaea, woodruff Galium odoratum and the notable wood barley Hordelymus europaeus. The wood is partly fringed by mixed scrub grading into open grassland, providing a valuable 'edge habitat' for birds and invertebrates.

North of the Scrubbs is a strip of woodland with old beech pollards, a remnant of the former Short Wood. This supports several local and notable beetles which are associated with dead wood. Four species of beetle occur which are recorded from nowhere else in the County, including the nationally rare
Ptenidium Gressneri [it's no 6 on the plate. Ed.].

Geology: The rock exposures along the southern slopes of Crickley Hill make up a key Jurassic
locality showing a major section in the Lower Inferior Oolite. This shows extensive exposures of Lower and Middle Jurassic rocks, from the Upper Lias through the Lower Inferior Oolite. It exhibits the best sections in the Cotswolds in the Pea Grit and the overlying Coral Bed. The lowest portion of the sequence is one of the very few to show the basal Scissum Beds overlying the Lias."

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