Moor Copse Nature Reserve

This Berkshire reserve forms a part of the Sulham and Tidmarsh Woods and Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Fringing the beautiful River Pang, Moor Copse nature reserve appeals to walkers and natural historians alike. This ancient woodland is a place of character, variety and great beauty, with its 70 acres comprising of three wet woodland copses, a small meadow and a healthy chalk stream. The site is owned and managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and at the end of 2006 was extended by another 72 acres of meadows, hedgerows and copses.

Work parties

Please meet the leader in the car park, on Sunday morning at 10am.

November 10th.

  • Read more here
  • 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.

    Crab Apples Red Admiral Water Mint Bryony berries Comma Speckled Wood Rosehips Peacock Grey Wagtail Small Copper

    Anne's Notes

    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.

    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 in flower.

    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 with 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.

    Compressed images taken by Anne at Moor Copse

    Web site designed by Martin Raper
    now maintained by Anne & John Booth.

    © 2010 Moor Copse N R

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