WALKING home from my allotment, I was passed by a young man cut off from his surroundings: headphones on, head down and busy texting on his mobile.

I don’t blame him for isolating himself in this way as Queen’s Avenue in Bicester was clogged up with the usual rush hour traffic and who wants to be immersed in that environment?

If you look, though, there is plenty of beauty around town to enjoy, with the cherry and pear trees in blossom and dandelions, purple dead nettle, celandines and daisies flowering in the grass verges. Along the busy A41 the blackthorn hedges are white with blossoms.

Piddington Wood has delicate primroses, violets and cowslips and the rich birdsong tells us it’s the mating season. Many local woods will soon be carpeted with bluebells.

For the last few years I’ve noted when the swifts first return to Bicester from their winter break in Africa. It is usually about May 5 and if that young man on Queen’s Avenue cares to look up from his mobile, he will see them wheeling and screaming through the skies above King’s End where they have several nesting sites.

All is not rosy however, as a recent study of worldwide bird numbers reveals one in eight species are threatened with extinction due to human activities such as logging, large scale agriculture, building development, and pesticide use. Each year I wonder if the swifts will return to Bicester and am relieved when they do.

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is concerned at the rate that our natural green spaces are disappearing.

Indeed, the Government’s planning policy is due to change and the new draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is currently open for consultation. The Campaign to Protect Rural England have suggested measures to save more of the countryside such as building on brown field sites, making derelict homes usable and increasing housing density in urban areas where appropriate.

The wildlife trust is asking the public to demand that our local wildlife sites are protected from development by emailing in and give tips online.

To make it easy for people, the Facebook page ‘Gavray Meadows News’ has a link to the trust's advice.

It also has photographs of the wildlife that Pat Clissold has spotted in Gavray Meadows and shows how important it is to save this endangered site for Bicester.

The website is wildlifetrusts.org/actswiftly/planning/how-to-respond gives simple advice too. Consultation closes May 9.