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.

August 11th.

  • Read more here
  • Sunday July 14th - A fairly warm day with the Pang still high but not overflowing. We cleared encroaching plant growth from the boardwalk in Park Wood to try to stop the wood rotting. The path by the pond was cut back to allow access. An area of Bracken in Cottage Field was scythed and removed. In 5 Acre, Poplar suckers were cut out, and the new shed in the tree plantation was given a couple of coats of green preservative. After lunch we decided to call it a day.

    Hazel coppice regrowth, June work party.

    Sunday June 9th - Quite a cool day at about 16C. The floodwater has gone from the entrance so that access is now possible to the riverbank there for the first time since late October. The riverbank path was cut back for the first time this year so a bigger job than usual. Having had so much rain for months, the vegetation was tall and lush. We also pulled Bracken along Main and Bradfield rides in Park Wood, and added brash to the stock netting around the coppice plot. We heard loud barking of a Muntjac.

    Sunday May 12th - The standing water in 5 Acre has gone making access easier, though there is a lot of soft deep mud left to negociate. We put in brash uprights into the dead hedge to help deter any Roe deer, and almost completed putting the stock fencing in place along the ditch. The binders were tied up and moved to the tree plantation, from where they were collected the following day. Some layering was done and repairs made to existing layering. A very warm sunny day at 26C.

    The end of the day, April work party.

    Sunday April 14th - The flooding has eased a little in 5 Acre making access slightly less difficult, and the large area of water in the coppice plot has disappeared leaving soft mud behind. A dry, bright and fairly warm day. We finished off the dead hedge which has used up a lot of the brash. We layered the stems of Hazel left on the stools. The Bluebells are almost in full flower and are looking beautiful. We saw a Small Tortoiseshell at lunchtime by the fallen Spruce in Bradfield Ride, a very welcome sight, I haven't seen one for a few years. Also a few Peacocks, a Red Admiral, Orange-tips, and a Green-veined White by the reserve entrance. Two or three frogs were found in the wet muddy part of the plot.

    Sunday March 10th - The very wet and flooded conditions continue making access into 5 Acre and Park Wood difficult. We carried on with the coppicing of Hazel and Alder, stacking some of the brash into the dead hedge. The Hazel along the edge of the ditch is under water so cannot be cut at the moment. Primroses in flower, green leaves of Bluebells showing well also many Foxglove leaves along Bradfield Ride near the fallen giant Spruce.

    February work party.

    Sunday February 11th - With rain again at the end of the week, the reserve is under more water than ever. We managed to access the coppice plot, though wellies needed to wade through the floodwater. We were lucky again with the weather which was bright and sunny. We made progress with the cutting, and with the dead hedge to defend against deer. More Scarlet Elf Cup seen at the ride edge, and Glue Crust fungus found on Hazel. Also a large crop of Honey Fungus at the base of a dying Ash with upper branches studded with King Alfred's Cakes.

    January work party, lunchtime in the sun!

    Sunday January 14th - The reserve remains very flooded in places. On our way in through Arable Field 4 Roe Deer were seen. We managed to get into Park Wood from 5 Acre with difficulty but all was ok once in Bradfield Ride next to the coppice plot. The far side of the plot is under more water than last month with the ditch once again transformed into a fast flowing stream which has scraped the mud from the bottom down to the gravel. Progress was made on the landward side of the ditch and we were rewarded with very welcome sunshine for most of the day. A few small Scarlet Elf Cup seen in the rideside scallops.

    December work party, flooding in the coppice plot.

    Sunday December 10th - A Kestrel flew across Arable field on our way in. The field is empty now as the cattle have been taken back to Woolley Firs. Soon after we arrived at the coppice plot it started to rain, this continued on and off until we were thoroughly wet. We then decided to call it a day in the early afternoon. We're making an impression in the plot which is starting to open up. However at the moment most of the area between the ditch and the 5 Acre fence is under water.

    November work party, lunchtime.

    Sunday November 12th - We made a start on a new coppice plot in Park Wood. The weather forecast wasn't very hopeful but in the end was mostly dry. A pile of chewed hazelnuts was found in the base of a coppiced Hazel, and nearby a lively attractive Bronze Ground Beetle.

    Sunday October 22nd - We cut back dense bramble growth in the cattle pen area to make it easier to move the animals around, and also laid down some long Hazel stems on the riverbank. This is to try to discourage dog owners letting their dogs into the water, as this has resulted in a long eroded stretch of edge devoid of any vegetation.

    September work party, removing netting fence.

    Sunday September 10th - Although the intense heat of the last week had subsided today it was still hot and extremely humid. We took down some of the netting around the coppice coupe we cut in 2019/20 in Hogmoor Copse. We were stopped by a thick wall of head high bramble and other vegetation about halfway round and decided this was the time to give up and wait for more comfortable working conditions.

    Moving the information board, July 9th 2023.

    Sunday July 9th - Some of us cleared the overgrown Byway adjoining Arable field, while some trimmed back the riverbank path. The River Pang information board was re-positioned. Having fought our way into last years' coppice plot with the intention of cutting back Blackthorn regrowth, we decided to wait until later in the year when the dense head-high vegetation had died back. We all walked through to our current plot and were pleased to find the Hazel regrowing well. A couple of small frogs seen in the woodland and a female Roe deer in Arable field.

    Sunday June 11th - We spent a warm and increasingly sultry morning trimming back the riverbank path to allow access and cutting out Bracken along the main ride in Park Wood. I then decided to call it a day as a bit too warm to be working. A Signal Crayfish was seen in the Pang.

    Ash trees coming into leaf in the coppice plot, May 29th 2023.

    Sunday May 14th - Following a sighting of a Roe Deer very close to the coppice plot, we decided to raise the height of the deer-excluding hedge around the plot. This would have prevented access by Muntjac but not Roe. We also carried the panels which formed the old allen scythe shed over to the tree plantation for disposal. A hot and hard working day!

    April work party, layering the Hazel.

    Sunday April 16th - We layered most of the Hazel stems left uncut for this purpose with the aim of increasing the number and density of stools. Two Door Snails, bigger in size than last month, found on a Hazel stem. A Heron flew over the coppice plot.

    Sunday March 26th - More coppicing done! With help from Mid-week team and the Field team later in the week, the coppicing is now almost complete, and they have extended the dead hedge along the ride and at the back of the plot.

    March work party, lunchtime.

    Sunday March 12th - Good progress made with the coppicing but still quite a bit to do. A Door Snail was found on the base of a Hazel stool, also an Orange Ladybird and nice examples of Glue Crust fungus on Hazel stems.

    February work party. The end of the day.
    photo Gill Kendon

    Sunday February 12th - We made steady progress with the coppicing and dead hedge building.

    Lunchtime, sheltering from the rain.

    Sunday January 8th - About 12 degrees warmer than last month, but we decided to stop work after lunch as the rain became very heavy.

    December work party, Coppicing.

    Sunday December 11th - A bitterly cold and foggy day, everything covered in thick hoar frost. We carried on with the coppicing, which is mostly Hazel in this plot.

    November work party, Coppicing.

    Sunday November 13th - A lovely warm sunny day. We made a good start in the coppice plot in Moor Copse wood, building up a dead hedge along a boundary as we cut the coppice. Quite a lot of squirrel damage on some stools with most of the regrowth dead, but some stools had very little damage and had grown very well. A very small green spider was found at the base of a hazel stool ?Green Crab Spider.

    Sunday October 9th - We finished off the hedge trimming and moved all the clippings to the cattle pen area, they made a surprisingly large pile! We then moved to Corner Field where we tackled an island of Poplar trees near the fenceline. The work to replace the deer and stockproof fencing is well under way, and contractors have had to do a lot of clearance work to access the fenceline. Quite a hot day, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral were seen.

    September work party, Trimming the Byway hedge.

    Sunday September 18th - Today we pruned the hedge along the Byway at the bottom of Arable field, aiming for an 'A' shape to help light reach all levels of the hedge ensuring increased flower and berry formation for benefit of wildlife. We noticed two Cherry Galls on a small regrowing shoot of English Oak in the hedge. After lunch we had a look at the new newt ponds excavated in Barton's field. These were already being visited by dragonflies with a pair egg-laying in one pond. We saw 2 Small Coppers and a Common Blue butterfly in Wigley field on Yarrow flowers, and a ring of Parasol fungi in Corner field.

    July work party, Barton's Field.

    Sunday July 10th - A very hot sunny day so after cutting Poplar suckers in Barton's Field, we stopped for an early lunch then went home. We noticed a Black-headed Gull circling low over the field, presumably catching insects, it was soon joined by two more. We hoped they weren't taking the many butterflies on the wing - Marbled White, Meadow Brown and Small or Essex Skippers. Also Cinnabar Moth. Most of the meadows were cut last week but not yet baled. Some wide margins have been left for insects.

    Sunday June 12th - We pulled Ragwort in the southern half of Arable field before the hay cut in July. There were plenty of butterflies here, mostly Meadow Browns, but one Small Tortoiseshell was seen too. We then did some lopping of blackthorn regrowth in the coppice plot, cut bracken in the main ride, Park Wood and cut back vegetation along the riverbank to allow easier access. A non-native Signal Crayfish was seen to the Pang.

    Lunchtime, May 2022.

    Sunday May 8th - A warm and sunny day. We moved the stock netting over from our plot in Moor Copse wood cut in 2018/19 and put it up in the current plot along the boundary with 5 Acre. The dead hedging was completed to render the area muntjac-proof - we hope. Improvements were made to the protection of the adjoining plot where deer had been getting in and browsing the coppice stools. A small group removed plastic tree shelters from the area planted in 2011, a not very nice but a very important job removing plastic from the reserve. Some rolls of black netting were moved out to the plantation awaiting removal. A Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were seen, also a fine Dryad's Saddle fungus growing in the bole of the large Ash which fell in the coppice plot in February.

    Layering Hazel stems, April 2022.

    Sunday April 10th - A lovely warm bright Spring day. We did most of the layering in the coppice plot, many more posts saved for use as fenceposts had sharp points put on them, and the stock netting was taken down in compartment MC3 in Moor Copse wood. Many Alder beetles were seen in amongst the coppice stools, a Heron few up from the field by Moor Copse House and over 5 Acre, a Kestrel also flew north-south over 5 Acre. The woodland floor is green in places with the fresh leaves of Bluebell.

    Putting points on posts, April 2022.

    Making the dead hedge, March 2022.

    Sunday March 13th - Slightly damp early on but with some warm sunshine later. We carried on with cutting the Blackthorn, some with trunks the size of small trees. We burnt up the tops. Some of the brash piles were turned into a dead hedge along one side. We found many Alder Leaf Beetles on the Blackthorn, and Alder stools. Primroses are flowering beautifully along the rides and in the woodland, and the fresh green shoots of Bluebells are showing now too. A Chiffchaff was heard.

    Sunday February 13th - A breezy day with rain promised, this arrived late morning. We continued with cutting Hazel and Alder, and tackled the mature Blackthorn on the east side which is invading the plot from the large patch in 5 Acre. We had a bonfire to burn it, and some of the other brash. The Scarlet Elf Cup in the ride has grown and more was noticed close by, both areas growing on decaying small wood piles. We decided to call it a day just after lunch as we were all thoroughly wet by then.

    Coppicing in Park Wood, January 2022.

    Sunday January 9th - A sunny day spent stacking cut Alder logs in the ride, transferring brash to the adjoining plot for Hazel protection, coppicing Hazel, felling Alder and putting points on the Alder fence posts. Three Buzzards soared overhead. Some nice examples of Yellow Brain fungus were found on Hazel stems. As always when cutting Alder, we admired the lovely orange colour on the cut surfaces.

    Tuesday January 4th - An extra work party for the morning only to do some chain saw work cutting up medium/large Alder felled in December, and to take down the stumps. Quite a lot of Scarlet Elf Cup fungus was found in the ride close to the pile of fence posts.

    Sunday December 12th - We carried on working in the coppice plot. Some of the cut material was moved to the adjoining plot which was cut last year and was either added to the dead hedge or put around some of the Hazel stools to protect them. All the Hazel here has been grazed down either partly or completely, Somehow deer have got in through the protective barriers. Some of the tall straight Alder poles were saved for use as fence posts.

    Coppicing in Park Wood, November 2021.

    Sunday November 14th - A fairly overcast but windless day. We carried on with coppicing the Hazel and some of the large Alder adding brash to the dead hedge. We've made a big difference to the amount of light getting into the plot already.

    Sunday October 17th - The rain began when we arrived in the car park. but this gradually petered out and by lunchtime it was warm with some sunshine. We made a good start on this years coppice plot in Park Wood.

    Sunday July 25th - We're not back to having regular work parties yet but a few people went out this morning to cut invasive Snowberry on the island and riverbank. After completing this task we walked up to last years coppice plot in Park Wood which appears to be regrowing well. 5 Acre and most of the other fields, has been cut, there is a large stack of baled hay awaiting collection.

    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.

    Water-cress Marbled White Honeysuckle Early Purple Knapweed

    Anne's Notes

    Meadowsweet & Drone Fly July 11th 2024.

    July 11th 2024 - A warm and fairly sunny morning. Many butterflies seen especially meadow species such as Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Marbled White and Large & Small Skipper. A few Commas too. Quite a lot of Beautiful Demoiselles along the riverbank and we saw some Drone flies enjoying the Meadowsweet blossom near the entrance. In the open area here, created by removal of Ash dieback affected trees and flooded for many months, there is now dense plant growth including towering Great Willowherb 10 feet high and Common Figwort about 7 feet tall, Gypsywort, Water Forget-me-not and Brooklime. The small black larvae of the Alder Beetle were seen feeding on a few Alder leaves in Bradfield Ride. The cattle were moved back on site today.

    Moor Copse wood, June 28th 2024.

    June 28th 2024 - At last, good to get all the way round without getting wet or muddy boots! The meadows are full of tall grasses with a sprinkling of Knapweed, Great Burnet, Lesser Stitchwort and Buttercups. There are Meadow Browns everywhere and we saw one Marbled White and a Comma. The area of 5 Acre that was under water for many months is now regrowing with a large amount of Fleabane and very few grasses. We saw many spiders webs on grass tops in all the meadows and saw an adult Nursery Web Spider on guard by a nest, and wondered if all the nests we saw belonged to the same species. Last winter's coppice plot is growing well so far. No doubt helped by the wet conditions, Hemlock Water-dropwort is growing in profusion along the riverbank, and in the meadows, also Water-cress which has been left high and dry near the entrance as the floodwaters receded and is now in full flower.

    Bluebells along Bradfield Ride, Park Wood, April 26th 2024.

    April 26th 2024 - The entrance is still under water so only accessible if wearing wellies. In some flooded parts of the meadows the water has receded leaving swampy areas of dead vegetation. However the Bluebells are still at their best in Park Wood and especially in the Bracken patch. Wood Spurge, Garlic Mustard, Red Campion, Bugle and Greater Stitchwort all in full flower in the woodland and along the rides. 5 Acre field is covered with Dandelion seedheads which must have looked a sight when in flower. We found 40 Early Purple Orchids in Moor Copse Wood in the same area as for many years but not in the numbers of 30-40 years ago. Work is proceeding in the tree plantation on the installation of the borehole to provide a reliable source of water for the cattle. Good to see Beautiful Demoiselles and about 4 Green-veined White butterflies at the entrance from the car park.

    Wood Anemones, Moor Copse wood, April 6th 2024.

    April 6th 2024 - Our visits have been less frequent due to the flooded state of the reserve which has continued now for months. Access is still not possible at the entrance. An unseasonably warm morning at 16C. We saw several butterflies, a Holly Blue, Peacock, Comma and an Orange-tip We heard a Skylark over Arable field. There were a couple of Egyptian Geese and two Canada Geese on the floodwater in River Field. In Moor Copse wood Primroses and Wood Anemones were still flowering well. We saw a few early Goldilocks in Park Wood with one or two Strawberry in flower, also some Lady's-smock. Lovely to see the dark brown spikes of Lesser Pond Sedge by the bridge and along the riverbank.

    February 4th 2024 - Floodwater levels have dropped but are still very high with the entrance remaining under water. A small clump of Snowdrops are in flower, a welcome sight, just below the lay-by (old road). A Heron flew up from River Field and we saw several Redwings in the Arable/River field hedge. The deep water at the bottom of 5 Acre has receded but water is still pouring in like a river into the southern edge of Park Wood creating large lakes through the coppice plots. We saw a Muntjac near the pond in Park Wood.

    Rosehips, Arable field, November 5th 2023.

    November 5th - The river level has dropped back from the middle of last week and the entrance boardwalk is visible again, but access to the riverbank path is only accessible if wearing wellies. We saw a Buzzard soaring fairly low over Hogmoor and Arable field, and small groups of Redwings in Park Wood. The berries of Hawthorn, Rose and Spindle all looked colourful in the bright sunshine.

    Flooding at Reserve entrance, October 29th 2023.

    October 29th - The Pang has overflowed into Hogmoor Copse by the Reserve entrance making access difficult as water is up to the level of the boardwalk at both ends. Everywhere very wet.

    Yellow Fieldcap, Corner Field. October 1st 2023.

    October 1st - A warm but very overcast morning. Helped by RDNHS member Jan, we saw many Yellow Fieldcaps in the meadows, a small common, but delicate and beautiful species. There was still quite a lot of Devil's-bit Scabious in flower in Corner Field, with one flower being visited by a Six-spot Burnet moth, and some Betony. Also a patch of bright pink Centaury in the track in tree plantation. We heard a Buzzard overhead.

    August 27th - The hay cutting has been done now with the margins left for invertebrates. Some areas in Arable field and the whole of Barton's field are uncut. The cattle are in Barton's at the moment and are enjoying the new ponds. We saw two Small Heath butterflies and a Common Blue in the tree plantation. The fresh growth of Hops with their female catkins are decorating the new deer fence in places. The pretty flowers of Traveller's-joy (Clematis vitalba) seen near the reserve entrance. The coppice plot is regrowing well.

    Hoverfly on Field Bindweed, Cottage Field. July 30th 2023.

    July 30th - We counted at least 10 Swallows flying and feeding over Arable field (south section) this morning, also a Kestrel. A bit windy, not many butterflies but there were plenty of Hoverflies. There are a few plants of Great Burnet in the tree plantation track I hadn't seen before there. In Cottage Field its dark red flowering heads are striking in amongst the grasses. The meadows are still uncut and in Barton's Field the grass was quite high with lots of grasshoppers and Roesel's bush-cricket.

    Peacock on Hemp Agrimony. July 23rd 2023.

    July 23rd - Patches of purple Knapweed now in flower in Arable field. Red Admirals and a Brown Argus seen in Park Wood, also a bright Peacock on Hemp Agrimony on the riverbank.

    Meadowsweet, Park Wood. June 18th 2023.

    June 18th - A warm and humid morning. Knapweed coming into flower in Arable field where a few Meadow Browns flying. Two Small Heaths and three Marbled Whites in the tree plantation. Many large seedheads of Goatsbeard very noticeable in 5 Acre field, also Meadow Browns and a female Black-tailed Skimmer. In the wetter parts of the main ride, Park Wood, Meadowsweet is now in flower as well as delicate pink Common Valerian. Chiffchaffs heard. Hemlock Water-dropwort flowering all along the riverbank in larger numbers than usual. Water Forget-me-not in flower on the island.

    Looking across the River Pang to River Field April 30th 2023.

    April 30th - The Bluebells are in flower together with Greater Stitchwort. Many other Spring flowers can now be seen, some also a bit later than in recent years, I haven't yet found any Early Purple Orchids in flower. Lovely large patches of Solomon's Seal seen in Park Wood, also Marsh Marigold. Large Bittercress just starting along the Pang. The large Bird Cherry in Moor Copse wood fell down a few years ago but many new plants are covered with their fragrant blossom. The few Crab Apples are also flowering well. In Corner field Cowslips can be seen, and the small patch of Snake's Head Fritillary has appeared again in 5 Acre field.

    Wigley Field April 13th 2023.

    April 9th - The flooding has largely subsided and the paths are less wet and muddy. We saw three Peacock butterflies in various parts of the reserve as we walked round. More beautiful Wood Anenomes seen in the woodland areas and lovely cherry blossom such as the tree in Moor Copse wood (photo above). A few Lady's-smock in flower in the wetter areas.

    Canada Geese, Barton's Field. April 2nd 2023.

    April 2nd - The reserve is very flooded with the entrance under water and many other areas with large pools. The cattle came back on site last week. We saw 8 Canada Geese visiting one of the new ponds in Barton's Field. A lot of Green Woodpeckers and Song Thrushes heard, also some Chiffchaffs. Primroses in full flower and a few Wood Anemones.

    March 5th - We saw a pair of Mallard by Hogmoor bridge and then walked round going through the meadows first, something we haven't done for some time. Some large Ash have been felled in Wigley Copse to stop them falling onto the fenceline. There are still some watery areas in Cottage field despite the very dry February. Some of the numerous molehills have been excated by dogs revealing the burrow made by the Mole. The view coming into Moor Copse wood is of yet more devastation caused by the felling of large Ash near the ride, taken down for safety reasons because of Dieback. A Buzzard soared overhead. Primroses are in flower in several places, and the Snowdrops are still looking good near the riverbank, as are the bright silvery buds of Sallow. Felling of Ash close to the reserve entrance has created a large open area.

    Cattle in a frosty Arable Field. December 11th 2022.

    Misty River Field. December 4th 2022.

    Cygnets on the Pang. November 20th 2022.

    November 20th - A sunny morning, colder than of late. We found a male Holly tree with many open flowers which I think is unusual for this time of year, they are normally out in May. We saw some bright glowing Snowy Waxcaps as we crossed 5 Acre field. There are some notices put up by BBOWT staff to warn of possible path closures when a lot of felling starts next week - 28th Nov. This is to remove or make safe by pollarding, the many Ash trees close to the rides which are suffering from Dieback. I think it will be a very sad sight when completed. Lovely to see three healthy looking Cygnets in the Pang.

    Waxcaps, Corner Field. November 4th 2022. photo Jan Haseler.

    November 6th - The Pang has risen after so much rain during the last week or two. It is still mild for the time of year, some buttercups are in flower in Arable field. We saw a Roe Deer here too. Some large fungi still to be seen in the meadows and we noticed some delicate tiny white fungi appearing on Ash trunks as well as a large growth of Honey Fungus at the base of one mature Ash. Most Oak trees still have their green canopy of leaves but Ash leaves have fallen from those still alive. Spindle trees are covered with berries.

    Moor Copse wood, main ride. October 10th 2022.

    October 10th - A sunny morning. We saw a Southern Hawker dragonfly hunting along the woodland edge by the entrance to Arable field. Quite a few fungi around now and a nice group of Cladonia fimbriata lichen on a post by the Sulham Brook.

    Parasol fungi in Corner Field September 18th 2022.

    The fallen Spruce on Bradfield Ride September 11th 2022. photo Robin Booth

    September 11th - A misty morning. A Roe deer was grazing in River field. Not many flowers to be seen now though there was some Water Mint and Fleabane, and plenty of ripe Blackberries. Hops have grown very well this year and have started to cover the huge root plate of the Norway Spruce which fell in a February storm. We saw a Grey Wagtail close to the Pang bridge and heard several Robins singing their autumn song.

    Brown Argus on Water Mint flowers, July 23rd 2022.

    River Field after hay cut, July 17th 2022.

    July 17th - A very hot day so we went fairly early to check the cattle in Barton's field. The hay has been baled with some still on site waiting to be removed. Some wide margins have been left uncut for invertebrates.

    River Pang, June 19th 2022.

    June 20th - The Pang looks very clear but is quite low. There is a lovely growth of Water Forget-me-not fringing the island. We saw our first Silver-washed Fritillary in the main ride, Park Wood, also a couple of clumps of Nettle-leaved Bellflower in bud. Foxgloves are still in flower with a good display on the Bracken patch. Marbled Whites seen in 5 Acre, tree plantation and Arable Field.

    Foxgloves, Park Wood, May 29th 2022.

    May 29th - We didn't hear or see many birds on our way through to check the cattle. However Arable Field is looking nice with a lot of Knapweed coming on and Goatsbeard in flower. We saw a Common Blue in 5 Acre, the first I've seen this year. Foxgloves in Park Wood are looking tall and stately, and Yellow Flag is in flower in the wetter areas and on the riverbank. A few Common Spotted-orchids are coming out in Hogmoor. We moved a very large Drinker moth larva from the middle of the riverbank path to the margin.

    River Field, May 22nd 2022.

    May 22nd - A sunny morning, there were so many Beautiful Demoiselles flying in the rides and in the lay-by. The yellow of Buttercups was especially striking in River Field. Further round we found the the cattle resting in shade beneath an Oak tree. Quite a few butterflies everywhere - Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Burnet Companion Moth, and two Small Heath in 5 Acre field. The coppice is starting to regrow in the new plot. Common Spotted-orchids are in bud in Hogmoor, and an unidentified orchid in flower in Corner Field.

    Guelder-rose, Park Wood. May 15th 2022.

    May 15th - A Grey Wagtail flew up from the river near Hogmoor bridge as we walked in to check the cattle. Further round, a Buzzard circled over 5 Acre quite low. Many of the meadows are full of yellow buttercups. The effects of Ash Dieback are stark now, and this year the damage to large Alders by Alder Beetles is also very noticeable. The Hazel is starting to regrow in the coppice plot with a nice patch of Wood Spurge in flower. The flower spikes of Foxgloves are obvious in places now, and Spindle trees are covered with flower. We found a Cardinal Beetle and a Red and black Froghopper, Cercopis vulnerata on Nettle leaves in main ride Park Wood. Common Twayblades are in flower in Hogmoor with Water Avens and the lovely Yellow Pimpernel. Rain started to fall just as we approached the car park.

    Large Bittercress by the Pang. April 24th 2022.

    May 1st - The cattle are back with us now, in River field for the moment. The Bluebells are looking lovely in the Bracken patch and along Bradfield Ride. There is a lot of Bugle, Goldlilocks and Greater Stitchwort in flower too, and good displays of Solomon's Seal in places. There are some Early Purple orchids but in very small numbers compared to previous years.

    Fallen Ash tree, main ride Park Wood February 21st 2022.

    February 21st - We went out to see the storm damage of a few days ago. There were several trees down including the large Ash in photo above across the ride in Park Wood. Upsetting to see that the huge Spruce at the end of Bradfield Ride had also blown over. It measured roughly 90' in height/length. It was home to Coal Tits and Goldcrests. In Moor Copse wood on Baker's Ride, a large Ash had broken in half. In addition to these losses, contractors have been working along the riverbank at the Tidmarsh end felling Ash for safety reasons.

    February 7th - The riverbank path is very muddy and has been widened by the increased numbers of visitors trying to avoid the slippery conditions. Patches of Snowdrops are in full flower. A young Swan paddled strongly upstream past the island.

    Hazel flower January 16th 2022.

    January 16th - Very misty morning. We saw some very open Hazel catkins along the riverbank with a few tiny bright red female flowers too. A couple of groups of Siskin seen, also a Buzzard in a tree in Park Wood. The Prunus by the gate into Corner field is covered with Lichen with some small clumps of bright green moss growing through, a lovely contrast with the different form and paleness of the lichen.

    River Pang, January 2nd 2022.

    January 2nd - A very dull morning, and very mild. Some birdsong in the woodland with Long-tailed, Great and Marsh tit seen. Also Nuthatch, and a Green Woodpecker in 5 Acre field. The Pang is high but hasn't overflowed yet. Most of the paths are very muddy with a bit of flooding in Cottage and Corner fields. We saw some fresh Jelly Ear fungus near the entrance boardwalk.

    Looking through to 5 Acre field. November 28th 2021.

    November 28th - A very cold sunny morning. The cattle water trough had a hard covering of ice. The ground frozen and puddles iced over too. Next year's catkins very visible on the Hazel now. No trees down on the Park Wood and riverbank paths we walked after the recent storm Arwen.

    Moor Copse Wood, November 7th 2021.

    November 7th - The warm low autumn sun was shining through the Oak trees in the main ride in Moor Copse. There were many small fungi on the old fallen Oak together with Cladonia lichens. In the hollow stump of the large felled Ash in Bradfield ride Park Wood, we found many large fungi growing. On the trunk there was what we thought at first was a Queen Common Wasp but think it more likely to be a German Wasp. Spindle berries are still very colourful along the rides and riverbank.

    Fungi in Park Wood, October 24th 2021.

    October 3rd - Quite cold when we arrived. We saw a young Roe Deer in the tree plantation in Arable field, and three Wood Mice in the base of a Hazel stool in Park Wood. The sun came out and we noticed several different species of Hoverfly on Ivy flowers on the riverbank.

    Looking into Arable Field, September 26th 2021.

    September 26th - Mist was still lying over the trees and meadows when we arrived this morning. It soon melted away when the sun appeared. We saw a Red Admiral, Common Blue and a probable Small Copper in Arable Field. The uncut section has large patches of Bird's-foot-trefoil with black seed pods split open.

    Alder leaf beetles, September 2021.

    September 19th - Overcast and fairly mild but not a butterfly to be seen as we went to check the cattle this morning. The grass in the meadows has regrown quite a lot since being cut with a few Knapweed flowers attracting bees. Water-mint in flower in the wetter areas, also the red berries of Guelder-rose very colourful in the main ride in Park Wood. We saw many Alder leaf beetles on leaves riddled with holes caused by the beetles.

    August 29th - Very overcast again. Not many butterflies to be seen, though it was nice to find a Small Heath in 5 Acre and in the adjacent tree planted area. The Dexters are eating a lot of tree leaves at the moment, and now they have access to the small field off 5 Acre, they have found some Sallow to enjoy as well. While clearing a pile of cut grass away from a planted tree in Arable field we found a grass snake skin which looked recently shed.

    Swans on the Pang. Aug 14th 2021. photo Maria Darby

    August 22nd - An overcast morning when we went out to check the cattle, now in 5 Acre. The riverbank and main rides have been cut by staff and volunteers with the vegetation collected in heaps. We saw a Silver-washed Fritillary on Hogweed by the river, and quite a few Meadow Browns with a sprinkling of Gatekeepers in the meadows despite the dull weather. Also a Small Copper in Corner Field. Everything looks green and lush. Reaching Hogmoor Bridge we were just in time to see a Grey Wagtail fly upstream under the A340.

    Common White Wave June 29th 2021.

    June 29th - We made our first visit to the reserve since mid-April this morning. It was fairly warm but overcast. The wet and muddy path by the entrance suggested that the river had overflowed recently. A few Beautiful Demoiselles seen along the riverbank and in Park Wood. There was a lovely patch of Water Forget-me-not by the island and a lot of Hemlock Water-dropwort in flower. Going along the main ride in Park Wood we saw some larger than usual Nettle-leaved Bellflower in flower, also Meadowsweet, Red Campion and several of the pink flowered form of Selfheal. There was a lovely Common White Wave moth resting on a bramble leaf. Purple Foxgloves along some of the woodland path edges. We turned back after reaching the gate into 5 Acre which looks nicely well grown.

    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.

    Capillary Thread-moss.

    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 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.

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