Please meet the leader in the car park, on Sunday morning at 10am.
Regular work parties are cancelled until further notice.
Read more here
Lunchtime, March 2021.
Monday March 29th - A small group returned to the coppice plot after a compulsory break of three months. Staff and the volunteer field team were able to resume the work
three weeks ago and it is hoped it will be completed by the end of March. We cut Alder and Hazel and built a dead hedge along the path by the pond. The sun came out late morning bringing out 2 or 3 Brimstones, also some blue-ish black
beetles which might be Alder Leaf beetle. We saw two pairs of Toads in the pond and 5 Palmate Newts.
Starting the coppice plot, December 2020.
Saturday December 12th - A mostly sunny day for the small group making a start on the coppice plot for this winter near the pond in Park Wood. A Muntjac was seen in 5 Acre field.
Pond clearance in progress.
Sunday October 18th - A few people came along today to tackle the pond in Park Wood, and to remove protective netting from
the adjoining coppice plot. The overgrown pond, now very deep after recent rain, was cleared of a large amount of Reedmace and Sedge. Open water can now be seen!
Sunday September 20th - A small group met today. Several tasks were tackled; cutting out encroaching Poplar suckers in 5 Acre field,
removing plastic tree guards and stakes from the tree plantation nearby, removing plastic protective netting from coppice in Park Wood. A very warm day which brought out quite a few butterflies
including Small Copper, Small Heath and Common Blue. Devil's-bit Scabious and Betony were flowering in Corner Field.
Sunday June 28th - Regular work parties have not yet restarted but we are now allowed to have a small group carry out work.
Having seen recent deer damage to the coppice regrowth, a few people went out for a couple of hours work to strengthen and complete the coppice protection around the plot. A Silver-washed Fritillary was seen.
Earthstar fungus, Moor Copse Wood. (photo Simon Claybourn)
Sunday March 8th - Today we layered all the Hazel stems that we'd left for that purpose, and planted a few small Hazel whips.
Posts were put in to support the stockfence around the plot and a roll of netting attached. More brash was put onto the dead hedge to raise its height. Nearby a single Scarlet Elf Cup fungus was
found nestling in a bed of bright green moss. When checking the deer fence in Moor Copse wood, a volunteer found several Earthstars, see photo.
Lunchtime, February work party.
Sunday February 23rd - The weather was again forecast to be very windy with rain but thankfully was not as bad as predicted
with a very welcome sunny spell after lunch. The coppice plot was a small dry island amongst the floodwater which covered most of Hogmoor. We finished the felling and most of the dead hedge.
Two male Brimstone butterflies flew in the warm afternoon sunshine. A slime mould was noticed on a dead branch nearby, probably Reticularia lycoperdon.
Sunday January 12th - We started the new year as we ended the old one - with coppicing! and also made a start
on the dead hedge that will go along one side of the plot. Someone noticed a line of holes in a dead Hazel stem and looking closer, saw that a Hazelnut had been jammed in one of the holes and
broken open see photo above with arrow pointing to the nut. This fascinating behaviour is typical of Nuthatches which are widespread on the reserve.
Sunday December 8th - A fine day, thankfully without the forecast strong winds. We had a small bonfire this time.
A Treecreeper was seen close to the reserve entrance.
Coppicing, November work party.
Sunday November 10th - A bright day with little wind, ideal for our coppicing
task. We noticed a lot of Holly in this plot, something we haven't come across before, also many young and seedling Hawthorns which have maybe come in
with the lighter conditions created by Ash dieback.
Sunday October 13th - Today, despite steady rain for most of the morning,
we made a good start on the new coppice plot for this winter. We were helped by two families who came along for a short session to try out
coppicing as part of National Coppicing Week. The Pang has risen considerably due to the recent heavy rain.
Sunday September 8th - We cleared along most of the hedge next to the public footpath
leading to Wigley Field in preparation for it to be laid by another volunteer group this winter.
Protecting the riverbank, August work party.
Sunday August 11th - Today we tackled the Poplar suckers in the uncut margin in 5 Acre Field .
These were all cut down and the Ragwort pulled and removed from the field. We also put in a coir roll pre-planted with water's edge species in the area by the bridge,
protecting it with a low dead hedge. A male & female Silver-washed Fritillary was seen in Park Wood and many butterflies including Brown Argus were enjoying the
flowery margin left uncut by the field gate into 5 Acre.
Removing a fallen tree from the Pang, July work party.
Sunday July 21st - To start with we tackled the bracken in Cottage Field before the heat built up, then some of us removed a fallen Willow near the reserve entrance
while others moved into Park Wood to pull more bracken in the scallop on Bradfield Ride that we've kept clear for some years. Good to see a couple of Silver-washed Fritillaries along the riverbank, there seem to be fewer
of them this year so far, also several Peacocks and Red Admirals about. After lunch by the Pang bridge, we did a bit more bracken removal before finishing at about 2pm.
Lunchtime, June work party.
Sunday June 9th - The riverbank path clearance was a lot harder than expected due to a sudden massive growth of cleavers
. We found two well grown Drinker moth caterpillars (see photo) and two small frogs. After lunch we pulled some bracken in Park Wood in the main ride, Hodsoll ride and one other. We saw that a few Common-spotted
Orchids were in flower in Vinula Ride.
Solomon's-seal, Bradfield Ride.
Sunday May 12th - A beautiful sunny day. We covered quite a lot of the reserve today
doing an assortment of tasks; finishing the dead hedge & fence around the coppice plot, moving rolls of plastic netting from several places to the tree planted area for
collection, adjusting a deer gate to enable proper closure, taking apart the old shed panels, cutting back the riverbank footpath and bracken removal in Park Wood.
Some of us went to look at the Bluebells in the bracken patch which are still very good, then having finished all the planned work we went home after lunch.
Sunday April 14th - A great effort was made to do as much layering as possible, and most was completed.
The stocknetting fence around a nearby plot was taken down as its job protecting regrowing coppice was done. It was re-erected around our current plot along the sides not
protected by the dead hedging. These jobs were also completed - thank you everyone! During lunch we saw two Buzzards soaring overhead.
Lunchtime, March work party
Sunday March 10th - A very windy day with some rain showers and sun. A Buzzard flew over the plot. We started by clearing the area of felled trees and brash,
then quite a lot of Hazel layering was done, and remaining tall stumps cut down. The dead hedge was solidly worked on and finished except for an access gap which will be blocked up next time. The piles of binders were
gathered together in the ride for collection by a hedgelayer.
Sunday February 17th - Much better weather than last Sunday. We made a final onslaught on the
remaining Hazel and Alder coppice and finished the day with just a few of the larger Alders left which it is hoped the Trust's trainees will fell. The dead hedge
continued past the ditch bridge and on up the ride.
February - the dead hedge, episode 2.
Sunday February 10th - The weather forecast turned out to be a bit wetter than expected, we
worked in light rain most of the morning with the sun appearing about lunchtime. More coppice was cut, and the dead hedge turned the corner heading north
to the boundary fence. After a brisk hailstone shower mid-afternoon, we decided to call it a day.
January work party, making the dead hedge.
Sunday January 13th - Steady progress with the coppicing was made as well as a good length of
the dead hedge protection.
December work party.
Sunday December 9th - The heavy rain quickly cleared, the sun then shone on us for the rest of the day.
We had a small bonfire and made steady progress with the coppicing.
November work party.
Sunday November 11th - We made a start on the new coppice plot in warm-ish sunshine. The Roe deer was again seen in Arable field.
Sunday October 14th - The work party was cancelled due to heavy rain.
September work party.
Sunday September 9th - We cut back some large Hazel coppice, Sallow and Sycamore on the riverbank to let in more light to the bankside and riverbed.
A Swan and three Cygnets glided past.
Sunday August 12th - What a difference from last month! A much more sensible temperature with a fine rain falling by the time we finished.
We cut some overhanging trees back along the riverbank and pulled bracken in a scallop on Bradfield Ride. We then started to cut Poplar suckers in Barton's Field but had to give this up
as the Dexters became too interested.
Arable Field June 2021. photo Howard Darby
June 13th - As I'm still not able to visit in person, a volunteer has passed on this information to me when he walked round yesterday and today.
He saw a family of Swans with four cygnets on the Pang near the entrance. Arable field is looking good with an increasing diversity of species including Goat's-beard, Bird's-foot-trefoil, Crested dog's-tail and Lesser Stitchwort. At the moment it is dominated in parts by yellow Buttercups.
A Kestrel and several Common Blues seen.
The three Dexters are still on site but should be moved soon.
Kestrel 2021. photo Maria Darby
April 27th - I'm not able to get out to the reserve at the moment but Jan, a regular volunteer,
had a walk round on a rather wet day and told me this. The Bluebells in Park Wood are not fully in flower, maybe another couple of weeks to go. But Large Bittercress was flowering along the river's edge,
also Goldilocks in Park Wood by the deer gate. Water Avens, Cowslips and Lady's-smock were out in Corner Field. Most surprising was the sight of four purple Fritillaries in Five Acre field.
Five Acre Field with Blackthorn in flower. April 2021.
April 13th - Lovely sunny day, quite cold. The Pang is still fairly high considering there has been no recent rain. We saw some Otter spraints on a branch over the water.
There are one or two Bluebells out and many Common Dog Violets in flower. Badgers have dug and filled some large latrines to the brim. Lime green leaves of Wood Sorrel showing up well close by.
We could only find a small number of Early Purple Orchid plants off Hodsoll Ride, as last year, people have made a camp there and created a flattened trampled area which is upsetting.
We saw a Muntjac in Moor Copse wood near the three year old coppice plot and a pair of Orange-tip butterflies. Many Blackcaps were heard and Long-tailed Tits seen, also two Buzzards.
There was a Heron in Corner Field, and a Grey Wagtail near Hogmoor Bridge.
March 23rd - The Pang is still high but the paths are much drier than they were and becoming very hard and beaten down in places
under the pressure of so many extra visitors over the past months. I walked round with Simon Barnett, the new BBOWT East Berks Land Manager.
We paused along the riverbank to look at a probable Otter spraint, and heard a Chiffchaff as we opened the gate into Park Wood, my first of the year. Two Skylarks have been seen and heard singing over Arable Field (March 25th).
Corner Field water filled channel, March 7th 2021.
Hogmoor Copse, February 2021.
February 21st - Although the Pang is still high, the flooding has receded from most of the reserve but the main paths
are still very muddy. We had a closer look at the Ash felling in Hogmoor. It does look devastated with all the tree and shrub cover removed in some places. The cut timber is stacked ready for collection.
The Pang bridge repairs are complete, hopefully all will be well for another 30 years! Contractors have cut back some Blackthorn encroachment in 5 Acre and River Fields. There was a lot of bird song with Long-tailed, Blue & Great Tits
and many pairs of Robins seen. Primroses are in flower in our last years coppice plot in Hogmoor, and there is still a lovely patch of Snowdrops near the lay-by beneath a crab apple tree.
We saw a Brimstone near the Spruce plantation in Park Wood.
River Field, January 27th 2021.
January 27th - The whole reserve is very flooded including the entrance. The Pang is overflowing into Hogmoor and has created large ponds in River field.
As a few years ago water is surging into 5 Acre field from Park Wood at the north east corner and is running along into Moor Copse wood at the north west corner of Five Acre by the gate where the depth was about 18". The contractors
working in Hogmoor Copse are in their second week felling dead and dying Ash along the boundary with the A340. This looks quite devastating as the felling has had to be done some distance into
the woodland to take trees that could reach the road if they came down.
Corner Field, December 27th 2020.
December 27th - By the time we reached the reserve the weather had cleared, and the sun had come out into a blue cloudless sky.
There was flooding at the entrance again making access impossible without wellies. There were pools of water in Cottage & Corner Fields. All the woodland paths are very wet and muddy.
Spruce plantation, Park Wood, December 20th 2020.
December 20th - We saw a Mistle Thrush perched in a tree top on the edge of Park Wood as we walked in to check on the
Dexters in Arable field. The sunshine was very welcome after days of gray and wet weather. The area of Norway Spruce planted in the late 1960's, has grown tall allowing light
into what was, not that many years ago, a totally dark interior. Primrose leaves are showing well in the path alongside.
Hogmoor Bridge, December 6th 2020.
December 6th - A very cold morning with the temperature barely above freezing. Trees and meadows hazy in the mist.
A few Siskins in the Alder tops together with Great and Blue Tits. Strange to see a single Bush Vetch in flower near the deer gate into Park Wood.
Waxcaps in Corner Field November 2020.
November 15th - The entrance is under water again and the Pang is high. The weather steadily improved as we went in to check the cattle, and by the time we reached Barton's field the sun was out.
Another of the mature Oaks on the north side has suffered severe damage, a large branch has fallen away taking a large part of the trunk with it. Not far away lies the other Oak which came down a few months ago.
Close by I saw a Redwing fly into a Holly tree bright with berries. There were several different colourful Waxcap fungi to be seen in Corner and 5 Acre fields today.
Autumn colour in Park Wood October 2020.
October 25th - A wet start to the day clearing to sunshine in late morning. Some Ragwort in flower in Arable field, also Knapweed.
Many Wrens seen investigating the piles of poles from some newly cut coppice along rides in Park Wood. The strimming and raking of the paths and riverbank is now complete. Guelder-rose and Spindle
berries are very colourful now. We saw a Moorhen on the river and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers in Park Wood.
October 13th - I had a report of an Otter seen today swimming and feeding in the Pang not far from the island. This appears to be the first
ever recorded sighting within the reserve boundary.
October 4th - A very wet morning. Some more fungi have popped up in Corner field, possibly Parasols.
The Pang has risen considerably and overflowed near the entrance where the path was under 6" water.
Devil's-bit Scabious, Corner Field, Sept 27th 2020.
September 27th - We walked through Corner Field and admired the patches of Devil's-bit Scabious,
Betony,Agrimony and Yarrow, and the dark shadowy rings made by fungi. BBOWT staff and volunteers have been out strimming and raking the rides.
We saw a Goldcrest along the riverbank.
Parasol mushrooms in Corner Field, Sept 6th 2020.
August 30th - Walking up the lay-by towards Hogmoor bridge, we saw a Grey Wagtail
searching for food in the pile of manure at the far end. We checked on the sheep for the last time - they are being moved to another
site on Tuesday. The recent strong winds have brought down a few large branches, notably by the riverbank next to the fallen willow across the river. The small Oak branch in Moor Copse wood
that we moved off the ride side, was heavy with clusters of acorns. The Water Forget-me-not is still in full flower by the island but mostly the fruits of autumn are taking over and providing
colour. We saw a lovely Comma basking in the sun in a sheltered spot on the riverbank.
Unbranched Bur-reed, River Pang.
August 23rd - After checking the animals we walked through to look at the tree planted area (no public access)
and on the way saw a Kestrel, a Red Kite and a Buzzard. One or two Small Heath butterflies still around, also Meadow Browns on banks of Fleabane and Water Mint in 5 Acre field.
The berries on Guelder-rose in Park Wood are already red and hanging in big bunches. We were pleased to see a couple of flowers of Unbranched Bur-reed in the Pang by the island.
August 9th - We were early this morning to check the grazing stock before the heat built up.
Because of this we saw few butterflies, just a Small Heath - again in Arable Field, and some Gatekeepers and Speckled Woods. The hay bales have been moved now after the cut
at the very end of July. Margins have been left uncut and some have lots of flowers for insects to visit, for example in 5 Acre Field where there are lovely patches
of Fleabane and Water Mint.
Hay cut and baled in Corner Field, Aug 2nd 2020.
July 19th - We found a Wasp Spider in 5 Acre field while rulling Ragwort prior to the hay cut planned for next week.
Many butterflies about with Red Admiral, Peacock and Silver-washed Fritillaries enjoying the flowers of Hemp Agrimony just coming into flower on the riverbank.
Silver-washed Fritillary on Bramble flowers Hogmoor Copse July 2020.
July 5th - Two Kestrels flew around Arable field calling maybe worried about a Buzzard which flew through earlier.
Lots of butterflies in the meadows especially in the tree planting in Arable field where there is also a beautiful display of Common Centaury along the track. We looked at our 2018/19 coppice plot in Moor Copse
Wood which is re-growing well. At least 3 Comma and a Silver-washed Fritillary seen here. Meadowsweet is in full bloom, and Enchanter's-nightshade in the shady woodland. We saw a male & a female Silver-washed Fritillary
in Vinula Ride by the current coppice plot, plus Red Admirals and Holly Blues. A grass snake swam across the Pang.
June 21st - While checking the grazing stock in Arable field, we heard a Skylark, and saw many butterflies as we walked through to 5 Acre -
Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and Marbled Whites. There is a lot of Knapweed in flower. A Heron flew from the riverbank into Arable field, looking rather incongruous amongst the tall grass and flowers.
In Bradfield Ride we found a dead Shrew that had been attacked but then left almost intact.
There was a patch of Large Bitter-cress in flower in the pond. We arrived at our coppice plot in Hogmoor Copse and watched as a female Blackcap flew into the dead hedge carrying food.
We found some of the coppice re-growth has been nibbled by deer despite the protection around the area. There were two Grey Wagtails in the lay-by today, a male and a juvenile.
June 14th - As we approached the Pang bridge, we heard a loud crash and found a tree had fallen across the river. Very few Demoiselles seen this morning, but
a few Meadow Browns, and in Barton's Field my first Marbled White of the year. We heard a skylark singing, probably in Arable field. Walking along the lay-by to the car park, we saw a male Grey Wagtail looking for food
on the roadway.
Moor Copse wood May 2020.
May 31st - As we turned into the byway we saw two Marsh Tits in scrub by the entrance to Arable field. On reaching Corner field we looked for the Pepper-saxifrage
seen by Jan yesterday, but couldn't find it. Did see a lot of Ragged Robin and my first Large Skipper of the year. Everywhere is very dry and the paths are becoming cracked in places. Although it was fairly early morning, we saw
quite a few Speckled Wood butterflies also a Meadow Brown in 5 Acre where there is a patch of Meadow Cranesbill. The Common Spotted Orchids are flowering in Hogmoor, 14 so far.
May 24th - This morning we heard Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Greenfinch as we walked in through the extension.
Coming into 5 Acre field which is still very yellow with buttercups,
we stopped to look more closely and found several Goatsbeard of the smaller sub species, and also some Grass Vetchling with its beautiful delicate purple-pink flower. There are Yellow Flag in flower by the Pang bridge
but the planted coir bundles that we installed last year have been damaged by the prolonged flooding and high river level earlier in the year. We did see Mayflies over the river and in the woodland.
Water Avens, Hogmoor Copse May 2020.
May 17th - We watched a Blue Tit feeding young in a hole in a dead Ash on the edge of Park Wood/Arable field.
Many Beautiful Demoiselles along the riverbank and in the new coppice plot. Also Yellow Pimpernel in the wetter parts of the rides. the Common Spotted Orchids are up with a couple in bud.
Many Water Avens in the ride with the Twayblades, though very few of the latter seen.
The Dexters in River Field May 2020.
May 3rd - There are 9 Dexters on site now. River Field was looking very lush with good grass growth and Buttercups and Ladies Smock
in flower. We saw Goatsbeard just about to flower in 5 Acre field and a few Early Purple Orchids in Moor Copse wood. Quite a few patches of Solomon's Seal seen along the ride edges,
also Yellow Archangel, Bugle and Greater Stitchwort.
April 19th - A couple of the reserves volunteers (maybe more) have made it down to the site as part of their daily walk.
Jan found good clumps of Marsh Marigolds and a few Water Avens just coming into flower today. There were Holly Blue, Orange-tip, Brimstone and Peacock butterflies along the boundary with Horsemoor Copse.
In Baker's Ride in Moor Copse she found 1 good Early-purple, and a couple more. It could be still a bit early for them.
Brimstone, March 2020.
March 23rd - A beautiful sunny morning. Contractors were felling a tree
for safety reasons, near the entrance. The path is still flooded here with the river still overflowing slightly. We saw 3 male Brimstones on our walk
round, which is now restricted to the main paths as some have been closed for safety reasons because of the numbers of dead and dying
Ash trees. Arable field has been harrowed and rolled to make a more even surface so that hay making equipment can be used.
March 15th - Today Peter Creed led a Moss walk for BBOWT. Due to flooding we were unable to walk through to
the woodland along the riverbank so set off in an anti-clockwise direction. We saw our first mosses on Hogmoor bridge, these included Capillary Thread-moss - photo above,
and Wall Screw-moss - a common species of man-made structures. He told us that Ash trees are a very rich habitat for mosses and we found some rare ones on the Ash tree near the Bullace tree in Cottage Field
including Smooth Bristle-moss, which was thought to be extinct in Berkshire in the 1980's. Also here was Lateral Cryphaea, one of those species rare in the 1950s-70s which have now become more common
due to improvement in air quality. Moving into Moor Copse wood, Peter found a number of Liverworts especially on some Silver Birch.
I also saw my first Wood Anenomes of the year in a small patch by the ride.
Flooding in River Field March 2020.
March 6th - The Pang has again overflowed and the river is pouring into Hogmoor Copse, and by Hogmoor bridge
into River Field. From there it has made its way into Park Wood where some of the the woodland is deep in water, then flowing into 5 Acre Field at the SW corner. We saw a
Grey Wagtail in the lay-by near the car park.
Flooding at the Reserve entrance, February 2020.
February 21st - When we arrived the Pang was overflowing by the entrance into Hogmoor Copse making access difficult without wellies.
There was a fast northerly flow of floodwater through the wood with some paths impassable. Two Mallard flew up from pools below the trees and a Heron flew away from the riverbank.
The hedging team were working again today and have almost completed the job. The Cherry Plum is in flower in the lay-by near the car park, and looked very lovely in the dull morning.
February 14th - We spent a couple of hours removing protective netting from coppice
stools cut a few years ago. Sadly, though the Ash stools had regrown well they were now all dead, casualties of Ash Dieback. We noticed a large fallen Ash tree nearby
with many King Alfred's Cakes, they were reddish-brown so not yet hardened with age into black charcoal like structures. SOMEONE HAS LAID A TRAIL WITH BLUE POWDER ON THE PATHS
THROUGH THE RESERVE, IF ANYONE KNOWS WHAT THE PURPOSE OF THIS IS AND WHO IS RESPONSIBLE, COULD THEY PLEASE EMAIL ME - email address is on Management page.
Felled Ash tree, corner of Bradfield Ride.
February 7th - The storm forecast for Sunday means that the work party has had to be cancelled. We took advantage of the quiet
sunny weather today to look at the coppice plot to see how much remains to be done there. There is a lovely patch of Primrose in flower close by. There was a lot of bird activity in the treetops, mainly Great & Blue Tits. A small flock of Redwing flew over.
We saw the large Ash tree near the pond in Park Wood that had been felled recently for safety reasons. Many more rideside Ashes will be taken down because of Ash Dieback. The hedging team were out again
today, they are about 3/4 of the way along now, the end is in sight!
January 26th - As soon as we arrived and got out of the car, we were struck by the sound of birdsong.
We planted a couple of trees in the hedge across the middle of Arable Field, a Green Woodpecker was feeding on the ground nearby.
Looking into Arable Field, January 2020
Flooding in Cottage Field, December 2019
December 30th - The water level has dropped in the Pang, although it is still high and fast flowing. Some birds around, a Moorhen and Wrens along the riverbank,
also a Green Woodpecker. As we reached the extension fields we heard a Song Thrush and saw about ten Redwing in treetops in Cottage Field. Parts of the path here were still under water.
Part of the newly laid hedge, December 2019
December 13th - The hedgelaying team were out again today and are making good progress. The Pang has overflowed into the wood near the entrance
but access was still possible with care. The contractors who cleared the fallen tree across the river have also taken out the nearby leaning Alder which had been getting lower each year across the Pang.
We found some small purple-ish fungi growing on dead wood (see photo in central strip) and would like to know what it is! A nuthatch calling but not much else.
Moor Copse wood looking towards Barton's field, December 2019
December 2nd - A sunny but very cold morning with thick frost on the ground and mist hanging over the river and fields.
We saw the contractors making a start on clearing the large Ash which fell last week across the river, blocking the path and coming to rest on the opposite bank. We saw many rings of fungi in 5 Acre
field. Some Oaks of local provenance grown by volunteers were planted today in last year's coppice plot. These will in time it is hoped, replace some of the standard Ash trees which are being lost to Dieback.
The hedgelaying team were working again today on the hedge along the byway to Wigley field.
Dexters in Barton's Field, November 2019
November 17th - A cold day with a hint of brightness. Very quiet, just a Nuthatch heard near the riverbank and an occasional Wren and Robin.
The Dexters were standing in weak sunshine near the gate to Barton's Field. All around the reserve Oak trees are very noticeable now in their rich autumn colours. Hazel too still have their leaves in shades of yellow.
October 27th - Sunny again this morning. We noticed two Nuthatches on the tall dying Ash trees in Park Wood, and in the bright sun,
an assortment of flies, and common wasps on the last of the Ivy flowers.
Cottage Field, October 2019
October 19th - A sunny morning. We looked up and saw a Sparrowhawk soaring above us in the lay-by. Two Red Admirals basking on
the trunk of a large Ash, and below them a female Common Darter which they chased away. There are not many flowers left in the meadows apart from some Knapweed, but various fungi have appeared to take their place.
I had an unusually good view of a Goldcrest in a small Oak tree near the spruce plantation. Several Tits in trees along the riverbank including one definite Marsh Tit.
October 6th - Quite sunny this morning when we went to check on the Dexters who are now in River Field. There are only 6 now as 4
were moved last week to another BBOWT site. We saw a Small Copper in Arable Field, some ragwort and knapweed in flower. We noticed that the dead Horse Chestnut by the Spruce plantation in Park Wood
has fallen at last. Close by there was a female Common Darter perching on the Bradfield Ride sign in the sun. Two Crab Apples trees in a coppice plot have had a good crop, but the size of the fruit of one tree was
very small - about the size of a small cherry. The Pang has risen considerably. We saw a Red Admiral flying high up among the tall trees in Hogmoor
coming to rest on Ivy flowers near the top of an Ash.
Coppice re-growth September 2019
September 21st - Another warm and sunny afternoon. The Pang is low at the moment and vegetation has spread
across the water narrowing the channel in places. Water Forget-me-not in flower by the island, not many flowers now in the woodland but there is still Water Mint in the main ride of Park Wood where we saw a lovely Comma.
The berries of autumn
are colourful - rose hips, Spindle,Hawthorn and Guelder-rose. The Dexters were again sheltering from the heat under trees in 5 Acre field. The re-growth from coppice cut last winter in the
compartment in Moor Copse wood, has grown well with some Hazel shoots 8-9 feet high. All the paths are dry and dusty from the prolonged dry spell.
September 15th - A warm sunny day. Just a quick visit to see the Dexters who we found resting in a shady place in Corner Field.
Lots of Devil's-bit Scabious in flower on the east side of the field, also Pepper Saxifrage. Two Small Coppers mating in Wigley Field and a Grey Wagtail on the old road in the lay-by.
Longhorn Beetle on Wild Carrot August 2019
July 28th - A warm sunny morning, much cooler than the recent very high temperatures. The Dexters have been moved into River Field
where there some nice shady places. Lots of butterflies around including two Silver-washed Fritillaries in Park Wood - Hodsoll & main rides, also at least four on a clump of Hemp Agrimony on the riverbank,
together with Red Admiral & Peacock.
July 20th - A few members of Reading Friends of the Earth came for a walk round with us this afternoon.
As we were about to set off a Silver-washed Fritillary flew past and settled on vegetation by the entrance, a lovely start to the walk. A Kestrel flew over Cottage Field.
We paused to listen to the numerous bush crickets and grass-hoppers in Corner & Barton's Fields, then entered into Moor Copse Wood grateful for its shade. We heard a Muntjac barking loudly
as we walked through Park Wood.
Cottage Field after hay cut, July 2019
July 14th - Most of the meadows have been cut and the hay baled ready for collection.
There were plenty of butterflies in the wide margins and patches left unmown including many Small Skippers and Marbled Whites. Knapweed,Ladies Bedstraw and Great Burnet
Foxgloves in Park Wood, June 2019
June 22nd - A warm sunny day. Six Dexters have been moved to the reserve and have joined the others in Arable Field.
Lots of butterflies, especially in the meadows including Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Common Blue and a couple of Marbled Whites. There is much more Goat's-beard in 5 Acre field than in previous years,
their large, decorative dandelion-like seed heads more noticeable than the flowers were. A Buzzard soared quite low over Park Wood. The colourful patch of Foxgloves in the main ride was bright
in the afternoon sun.
Small but beautiful; Yellow Pimpernel, June 2019
June 2nd - There are now four Dexters in Arable field. While checking them this morning, a Skylark flew up in front of us singing loudly.
We saw about five Common Blue butterflies here and about ten more in Cottage Field. The coppice is growing well in our new plot with the Hazel about 12"-18" high. We noticed a lot of Yellow Pimpernel in the wetter
rides though the whole reserve is very dry at the moment. The meadows are also growing well with the yellow of buttercups still the dominant colour. We came across a Small Copper in 5 Acre field. On checking the large Ash tree
in Park Wood where Honeybees have nested for a few years, we saw no signs of activity. In the lay-by near the bridge a Grey Wagtail searched for food on the road.
Some group members looking at the Water Avens, Hogmoor Copse, April 2019
April 27th - There were 12 people for the BBOWT walk this afternoon which was nearly cancelled because of very high winds and forecast heavy rain at the start.
The predicted rain didn't arrive and by the time we reached the woodland areas having walked through the meadows first, the wind had died down quite a lot. We saw Lady's-smock and some patches of cowslips in Corner Field but didn't walk over to
view the Marsh Marigolds and Water Avens. Many clumps of Knapweed leaves were noticed. A Kestrel flew along Barton's field as we approached Moor Copse wood. The Greater Stitchwort is lovely this year, outshining the bluebells in places. Also much Yellow Archangel, Wood Spurge and Wood Anemone.
Crossing 5 Acre into Park Wood we admired the Bluebells in the Bracken patch before finding a small number of Early Purple orchids in flower including a lovely white specimen. The bluebells along the main ride didn't seem as numerous or colourful as some past years,
but plenty of Goldilocks & Stitchwort. Over the Pang into Hogmoor Copse we looked at a few Twayblades, Yellow Pimpernel and a nice patch of Water Avens. Large Bitter-cress is in flower along the edges of the river, there is much more than in previous years. Two Scarlet Tiger Moth caterpillars
were found on Comfrey & Nettle.
April 5th - Quite a lot of loud bird song along the riverbank which looks a lot greener than a couple of weeks ago.
One or two Bluebells out in Park Wood but a definite blue haze in Harescroft Copse. The occasional Yellow Archangel, Stitchwort and Wood Anenome in flower. We found some Orange Ladybirds
on the Wych Elm in Park Wood. This species was once closely associated with ancient woodland but is now increasing in the UK as it has adapted to feed on Sycamore and Ash. The clusters of Wych Elm seeds are very noticeable on the tree overhanging the lay-by.
Oak tree & Sallow, Bracken patch Park Wood, March 2019
March 17th - The bursts of heavy rain in the last week or so have raised the water level in the Pang. We heard a lot of bird song along the riverbank including Wren,
Nuthatch and in Park Wood a Mistle Thrush singing for some time in young coppice near the end of the main ride. Two Buzzards soared quite low over our current coppice plot in Moor Copse wood. We found some Green Elfcup fungus stained wood - see pic.
Everywhere there are Early Dog-violets in flower
together with many clumps of Primrose in full bloom. The leaves of Early Purple Orchid are showing well in Park Wood.
March 7th - We saw a Kestrel hovering over Arable field and a Buzzard over the planted up area.
A lot of Primroses out now along the rides, also Dog's Mercury coming into flower and Bluebell leaves showing green in the woodland. The Cherry Plum in the lay-by near the car park is beautiful, covered with blossom.
BBOWT's Mid-week team were out here today coppicing the hedge across Arable field, and removing some invasive plants in River Meadow.
Sunshine after a foggy start. Arable Field, February 2019
February 15th - A very cold foggy morning. Snowdrops are out in Hogmoor and along the riverbank, and we saw our first Primrose near
our current coppice plot. A male Bullfinch flew from tree to tree in the main ride, Park Wood and we saw a Green Woodpecker in Arable field.
As the sun came through bird song increased with Song Thrush and Great Tit being the most vocal. BBOWT's mid-week team were cutting back Blackthorn yesterday in Barton's and Corner field. With less
grazing pressure this has grown out tremendously from the field edges and has to be controlled. Many molehills as in recent years, are very noticeable now in most of the meadows.
Frost on grass stems, Corner Field January 2019
January 31st - A very cold morning at -3C. Frost covering everything. Very few birds about except
a Nuthatch near the lay-by, and several Blackbirds and Robins. Both the Oak and Ash have now been cleared from the river.
Corner Field January 2019
January 14th - A female Bullfinch was eating buds of the Cherry Plum by the car park, and we saw a party of Redwing
fly through the trees in Hogmoor, otherwise the reserve was fairly quiet. The fallen Oak near the entrance has been partly cleared so that the riverbank path is now accessible.
Despite the recent relatively dry weather there is a pool of standing water in Corner field.
January 7th - We had a walk through the old reserve and took down some more plastic netting protecting the coppice stools which are now well grown and no longer in need of it.
Sad to see it around Ash stools which regenerated well but are now dead due to Ash Dieback. We saw groups of Siskins in the treetops in Park Wood and one or two Marsh Tits, also a large Roe deer. All the
Holly berries have long gone but there are still quite a few red berries of Guelder-rose brightening up some of the rides.
Main ride, Moor Copse wood, looking north December 2018
December 22nd - The Pang has risen a little with the recent rain. We surprised a Heron near the island
and it flew away returning later further downstream. Near the island a large branch of an enormous Poplar had broken off and fallen across the path and into the river.
We cleared away as much as we could but had to leave the main branch on the path though it can be easily stepped over. The partial ring of Blewits is still there in the
south end of 5 acre, but they are looking rather soft and soggy now.
Barton's Field December 2018
December 16th - A cold brightish morning with mist lingering over the meadows. The Pang has risen quite a lot with the recent rain.
Not far from the reserve entrance there is a large Oak whose top has broken off. It has a thick growth of ivy and blocks the path and almost the river too. This will be cleared by a contractor.
We saw a mixed group of Great & Blue Tits and a single Marsh Tit in a coppiced area of Park Wood, also a Nuthatch.
Corner Field November 2018
November 18th - A day of bright sunshine. A Green Woodpecker flew away from us in Arable field. Leaves have fallen over the last week from many trees leaving golden carpets
underneath. Some of the Oaks within the woodland still have some green leaves, but the hedgerow trees are brown. Alerted by a Jay's alarm call, we saw a Buzzard fly low through our new coppice plot. We measured a large Ash coppice stool
nearby and found it was 6.6m girth.
November 4th - We saw a Roe deer again today in River field, possibly the same one as last Sunday. There's good growth in the fields which were cut in summer
plenty of new grass to keep our six Dexters happy. Pink Spindle berries are now fully open showing their seeds clothed in bright orange covering. Lots of Holly berries too. A small party of Long-tailed Tits
twittered above us as we made repairs to a gate in 5 acre field.
October 28th - A chilly morning, about 6C. On our way through to check the 8 Dexters in Cottage/Arable Fields, we saw a Grey Wagtail
on the road over Hogmoor bridge searching for food among the fallen leaves. A Roe deer bounded away along the edge of Arable field when it saw us. A calling Buzzard flew low over Corner field harassed by two Crows,
and a flock of at least 30 thrushes flew overhead. There were quite a lot of very small crab apples beneath one of the planted trees in Park Wood, but the other tree had none. We saw a Marsh Tit by
the Pang bridge.
September 2nd - A warm morning with clear blue sky. The Dexters are in Arable field now and we found them under the shade of an Oak tree.
In the meadows, with the help of recent rain, there is fresh green grass coming through after the haycut. Several Green-veined White butterflies seen and a Speckled Wood.
Many Ash trees, large and small, look in a sorry state with the signs of Ash Dieback. We saw a medium sized Toad on the riverbank path,
and a tiny frog in last year's coppice plot in Hogmoor Copse.
Green-veined White on Purple-loosestrife, August 2018
August 5th - A very hot morning, the cut fields are still parched and straw coloured.
There was a splash of purple in the uncut patches of Cottage field where Purple-loosestrife is still in flower. The 8 Dexters in Barton's Field - which was not cut, were
standing in shade next to the bowser. The southern end of 5 Acre which was left unmown, had plenty of Fleabane, Water Mint and Marjoram to attract butterflies such as
Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Green-veined Whites and Common Blues. Many flowers have already gone, shrivelled and dead due to the prolonged hot and dry weather, but the berries of Guelder-rose
were providing colour already in Park Wood, with a large number of Green-veined Whites on Water Mint in a ride close by. On the riverbank Hemp Agrimony was in flower - a favourite of many insects.
Hay baling July 2018 (photo John Lerpiniere)
July 16th - The hay cutting and baling by contractors is almost completed.