The 1975 Gabriel Flora & Forna Survey

Introduction to Flora and Fauna of Oundle Gravel Pits 1975

By K. R. Gabriel

To a certain extent, this remarkable document by Mr Keith Gabriel is testament to an earlier time. The dedication and countless hours that went into the collection, collation, preparation and publication of this report is something that would probably nowadays be quantified in financial terms.

But here, we are honoured to present a survey which was done by a schoolboy. Mr Gabriel was a pupil at Oundle School when he undertook this work.

Mr Ioan Thomas, who produced the shorter companion piece included in this section of the website, supervised Mr Gabriel’s publication as the then Head of Biology at Oundle School.

It is also interesting to note in the Acknowledgements (pg. 1) of the Survey, which naturally features Mr Thomas, that Mr Tom Pheasant, the first Warden of the Barnwell Picnic Park (as it was then called) was also instrumental in helping Mr Gabriel with his work.

Within the same section, it is gratifying to note that Mr Gabriel was able draw on the efforts of his peers who were actively pursuing their own areas of interest in flora and fauna. Sadly, this same level of adventure in Natural History is profoundly limited today by the pressures imposed on pupils by today’s education system. What is lost is best depicted by this outstanding work.

The bulk of this detailed Survey takes existing data in 1974/75 with additional reference(s) to historic sightings from 1958 on the site where applicable. This provides evidence that Mr Gabriel draws on the work of longer term residents in the area such as Mr Thomas.

The final paragraph of the Conclusion to this Survey (pg. 30) is excellent because it flags one of the continuing and declared future pre-occupations of the Friends of Barnwell Country Park: the effective balance of the Park as a sanctuary for wildlife with the demands of the our community - the human users.

We very much hope that the breadth of this report will help to continue to stimulate interest in the Natural History of the Park. It is our declared intention to aim to repeat this Survey on its 50th anniversary. We hope that it may help to inspire a new generation of naturalists.

Photographs from the period