No. 90 – AUTUMN 2009
As I write, our ‘Indian summer’ appears to be breaking up.
But between the clouds the golden evening light of autumn gives the countryside
an enchantment found only at this time of year. The stubble glows almost
as bright as the corn that preceded it, tree trunks are picked out in
twisting golden ribbons, late bundles of straw cast long angular shadows
across the fields, and even the rising moon has a golden tint. As I walked
through the wood half an hour ago, a Roe Deer came bounding past at amazingly
close range, backlit by the setting sun – one of those magical moments.
While the skies are emptying – right now not a single martin or
Swallow to be seen – the garden is still full of butterflies, which
at last seem to have had a good year. Dragonflies and damsels zoom between
the shrubs, and all manner of bees are still busy collecting nectar from
The mice moved back in early this year – in the middle of August
–the warm weather doesn’t seem to have tempted them to move
out again, alas. Several small Toads have taken up residence this summer,
but they are not big enough to make much impression on my hostas, Mecca
to the garden’s slugs and snails. The Mock Orange has had a bad
year – infested with leaf curl aphids too high up for me to tackle;
in the end it got so unsightly that I pruned it heavily, to find that
the whole tree was covered in Harlequin Ladybirds – it seems every
possible morph was there, from large yellow-orange with spaced-out spots
to small black and red ones. I counted at least 12 different patterns,
but there are many more. It was literally raining ladybirds. And the big
ones packed a painful bite. This is yet another example of biological
control gone disastrously wrong.
As I write, the Canada Geese from the local gravel pit are wheeling around
making a great noise. This happens every autumn and their loud cries go
on late into the night. They no longer migrate in autumn, but I guess
it is pre-migration gathering behaviour, much as Swallows and martins
tend to line up on the telephone wires.
There has also been much squabbling among the Jackdaws as this year’s
youngsters establish a dominance hierarchy. Why are Jackdaws like gorillas?
Well, in my experience the oldest, most dominant males appear to have
more silvery-grey necks and shoulders. A few years ago, the boss Jackdaw
was badly injured, I know not how, with a mangled wing and broken leg.
He managed well for a couple of weeks and at first the others accepted
him as usual, though he had trouble competing when food was first put
out. He took refuge on a nearby roof, and when I saw him near, I would
attract his attention then put out food, giving him a chance to get to
it before the mob. But eventually he died, and bob’s-a-dying broke
out for days as they squabbled and argued and fought, presumably over
who was to be the new leader of the pack. The winner was also silver-grey,
but not as markedly as the old leader.
The Club has ranged widely over the Cotswolds and Chilterns, and had a
summer trip to the Wyre Forest led by one of our regular leaders, Peter
Creed. This much-neglected treasure is one of the largest nature reserves
in the country. Sited over coal measures, with a mix of limestone and
acidic strata, it boasts a remarkable mixture of plants, with parts of
the oak woodland full of Lily-of-the-valley mixed with Bluebells. In places
in the river vales, heathers grow alongside lime-loving species. Wood
Warblers were singing across the valley, but we didn’t see the Black
Redstarts the reserve is famous for.
The first walk of summer was at Lardon Chase, which overlooks Streatley
and Goring and the River Thames, with magnificent views. We saw masses
of Painted Lady butterflies on their migration north from North Africa,
and various blue butterflies. There were leisurely evening walks around
Minster Lovell, Asthall Leigh, and beside the river from Tadpole Bridge,
where we were treated to a spectacle of 13 Red Kites wheeling above us.
On a sunny August afternoon we had a circular walk from Fifield through
fields of corn and stubble. There was a splendid guided walk and picnic
in the Warburg Reserve, with its many species of orchids, lots of insects,
including Silver-washed Fritillaries, and its open hillsides patrolled
by Buzzards and Red Kites. Another sunny afternoon walk around the Rissingtons,
led by Gordon Ottewell, an ‘old’ friend of the Club, was enlivened
by his local knowledge and entertaining tales.
Two regular events in the calendar were the frosty dawn chorus at Barrington,
led by our President, Graham Wren, when 43 species were counted. It began
as the moon was setting above a blanket of mist in the valley below and
ended in sunshine. Thankfully, it was dry for our Summer Party at Radcot
Bridge this year, but it was still too cool to sit out by the river.
We now look forward to the start of the autumn meetings, trips to Otmoor
and Gloucestershire, and an autumn excursion to Norfolk.
John W. Dossett-Davies MBE 1927–2009
Members of the Field Club were saddened to learn of John’s death
in May. He will be
particularly missed at the indoor meetings which he attended regularly
for many years. After a distinguished career in social work, John retired
to West Oxfordshire in 1985 and became very involved in local affairs.
For a long time he was Chair of the Oxfordshire Branch of the British
Association of Social Workers. He will be remembered locally as one of
the founder members and long-time chairman of the Witney Twinning Association,
one of the founders and President of Witney and District Museum, one-time
Chair and President of the Witney Branch of the British Legion and a member
of the committee of the Witney branch of the CPRE. For a time he was an
occasional music and art critic for the Oxford Times and Oxford Mail.
He was awarded the MBE in 2004 for services to children and families.
We extend our condolences to his wife, Anne, and his family.
Raymond George Edwards 1934–2009
When Ray died in August, the Field Club lost one of its very long-standing
members – he had been a member since 1966! In March 2003, Ray became
a Committee member and soon after Walks Programme Secretary, taking over
from Avery Baines when she gave up organising the outdoor activities of
the Club. Ray was keen on everything to do with natural history, but was
particularly knowledgeable about birds and was a member of the RSPB and
an active member of the Oxford Ornithological Society. He had been a qualified
bird ringer for almost 50 years and many of the birds that ventured into
his garden at Eynsham were ringed. Being very fond of
trees, when Dutch
Elm Disease struck in the 1970s, Ray helped to organise an extensive tree
re-planting scheme in Eynsham, an activity he continued until very recently
– any sapling that came his way was found a home. He also enjoyed
working with wood and became a skilled wood-turner. Ray extended his local
conservation activities by joining the Friends of Wychwood. His support
of the Wychwood Project was acknowledged by his family who chose this
organisation to be one of the beneficiaries of the donations made in Ray’s
memory. Those who lived near him appreciated his generous offer of lifts
to Club events and committee meetings. Ray was the sort of person who
could be called upon to help at any time, and as a friend and Club member
he is already sorely missed. Twenty Club members, among many other relatives
and friends, attended the requiem mass for Ray at St Peter’s Catholic
Church, which is an indication of the esteem with which he was held. We
extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Margaret, and their four daughters.
A big thank you to Jill Bailey who, once again, has written an interesting
editorial. Thanks are also due to all of you who contributed to this newsletter.
Don’t forget this newsletter is intended to be used by members to
share their observations, make comments, etc. on anything associated with
wildlife and the countryside, as well as for reports of walks and trips
that you make with the Field Club or with any other like-minded group.
By the way, a copy of this Newsletter is passed on to the Thames Valley
Record Centre, which is always on the look-out for new records of natural
history and geological interest. With this in mind, if you include in
your contribution to this Newsletter a sighting of an animal or plant
which is particularly interesting, could you please state exactly where
you saw it, preferably with a map reference.
The deadline for the next newsletter is the end of March 2010 but I’m
happy to receive your contributions any time. Please send your contributions
to me by e-mail as an attachment (Word is preferred) or on paper by post
to the address given on the programme.
REPORTS OF FIELD MEETINGS
The Barringtons 14
It was a lovely warm spring afternoon as we began our circular walk from
‘The Fox’ car park situated between the villages of Great
and Little Barrington. On our way to Great Barrington we crossed the bridge
over a back-water of the River Windrush which leads to Barrington Mill.
Here we met a young lady with small children who, being a local person,
told us a bit about the Barringtons, and in particular about the ruins
of a gamekeeper’s cottage and urged us to see it. The cottage, although
in an advanced state of ruin, clearly had been a sizable and desirable
property in its day, set on the edge of woodland and overlooking the River
Windrush and its water meadows.
In the wood we came across a fungus, identified as being King Alfred’s
Cakes (Daldinia concentrica), appearing as hard, reddish brown to black
hemispherical shapes which normally, as in this case, grow on dead, fallen
Returning to our planned route we continued uphill to the churchyard,
hoping to see the magnificent display of snowdrops, but sadly they were
past their best but still good enough to give an appreciation of their
beauty. Also in the churchyard is an ancient and very tall Yew tree –
taller than the Norman tower of the church.
Leaving the churchyard, we crossed the road into the new burial ground
(which was graced with more snowdrops and also daffodils) as a short cut
to the village. Great Barrington is a pleasant, quiet village with houses
built largely during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is dominated by Barrington
Park, which is beautifully landscaped and which holds a large herd of
Fallow Deer; these were clearly visible on the day.
Continuing on through the village, and turning into a large field, we
dropped down to Barrington Mill, no longer a working mill but a house
conversion, where we saw more groups of snowdrops and daffodils.
After looking at the old mill building, we crossed the water meadows –
aptly named as it was quite ‘soggy’ here and we found it rather
difficult to get across. Having achieved this, we climbed a short and
quite steep hill to the outskirts of Little Barrington, which is a small
but attractive village surrounding a bowl-shaped green. This was originally
a quarry from which the stone was used to build the two villages. From
here it was but a short walk back to ‘The Fox’.
Birds seen during the walk:
Dawn Chorus – Barrington Park Estate 10 May 2009 at 04.00 hrs
This was visit number 6 to Barrington for our annual Dawn Chorus meeting.
Once again we are indebted to Mr Richard Wingfield who unfortunately was
unable to join us. As I left home (Herefordshire) at 02.48 hrs the almost
full moon was shining from the south in a totally clear sky – could
it last? It was a very good turn out with 14 Club members and two Barrington
residents. I was much encouraged to see some new faces. It was yet another
perfect morning – dry, still, a clear sky and a definite chill in
the air. At 03.52 hrs before the meeting had officially started, the distant
sound of a rising Skylark gave us the traditional send off. We left Park
Farm at 04.07 hrs taking the now familiar route. At 04.12 hrs, as 2 years
ago, Rooks were the second bird on our list. There were raucous calls
filling the early morning air, followed immediately by the wing beats
of a flushed Woodpigeon. As we turned off the road towards Manor Farm
the faint characteristic ‘wet my lips’ call of a Quail was
heard, a first for the Dawn Chorus list. As we reached Chase Farm, Blackbirds
were by far the dominant songsters. At 04.42 hrs the very welcome and
unmistakable call of a Cuckoo, the first Dawn Chorus record here since
2005, echoed across the countryside. As we walked down to Manor Farm,
looking slightly to the left, the now pale orange moon was just above
the horizon and there was a carpet of mist along the Windrush valley below.
This enchanting scene was certainly worth the early rise and I’m
sure the Poet Laureate would have waxed lyrical at the sight!
There was frost on the gate as we went through into Moor Meadow, halfway
across towards the Windrush – another first for the Dawn Chorus
and indeed for the Estate was ringing in our ears. A Cetti’s Warbler
with its explosive burst of song (even louder than a Wren!) was heard
in the direction of the river bank. On returning to Park Farm we added
House Sparrow, House Martin and Swift (not seen last time) to the list.
As we had been summoned to be seated for our ‘Full Hailey’
at 07.30 hrs, we had no time to look for a possible Collared Dove or Spotted
Flycatcher but we did finish with a respectable total of 43 species. To
my surprise Grey Heron made a third new one, giving us a grand total for
our six visits of 67 different species.
Thank you as always to all participants and to Richard Rathband and his
daughter Stephanie for contributing their local knowledge. The hospitality
of Yvonne and Roger was as good as ever and more than satisfied our taste
buds for the rest of the day at least! It was much appreciated by all
– many thanks, indeed.
Bird list with the
time of each first species recorded:
04.13 Tawny Owl
04.17 Red-legged Partridge
04.20 Carrion Crow
04.27 Song Thrush
04.59 Barn Owl
05.09 Willow Warbler
05.15 Grey Heron
05.16 Canada Goose
05.17 Reed Bunting
05.20 Cetti’s Warbler
05.22 Great-spotted Woodpecker
05.25 Tufted Duck
05.56 Great Tit
06.21 Green Woodpecker
06.43 Stock Dove
07.00 House Sparrow
06.40 Collared Dove
07.03 House Martin
Wyre Forest 15–17 May 2009
Despite the torrential rain on both the Saturday and Sunday this weekend
was still enjoyable. Peter Creed (one of the Club’s Vice Presidents),
who knows the area well, took us to the places of particular interest.
Not only was Peter finding the unusual flowers which grow here but he
was also finding and identifying the many bryophytes we came across. The
most memorable thing for me was coming across a Service Tree in full flower
– this was a sight I had not seen before. I am hoping to have a
longer report with lists of plants and birds in the next newsletter but
I would like to record my thanks to Peter for his knowledge and enthusiasm
and to Yvonne Townsend for organising the accommodation in Stourport-on-Severn.
Lardon Chase 24 May 2009
What a perfect afternoon for a walk in a beautiful part of the country
that was certainly new territory for me! Five of us turned up to walk
with Malcolm Brownsword at Lardon Chase which is on a hill overlooking
Streatley and Goring and the River Thames, in the Goring Gap. The views
are superb and it is a beautiful area with woods all around. This particular
afternoon there were Red Kites in abundance and their colouring really
showed up as many of them were flying below us, some quite close and some
interacting with one another higher up in the air – a good demonstration
of how much use they make of their forked tails acting like rudders to
manoeuvre their position in the sky.
The other remarkable thing of the afternoon was to witness the mass migration
of Painted Lady butterflies coming over from North Africa via the continent
and moving through like express trains on a mission flying north. They
were flying singly and in pairs close to the ground and then rising up
to climb over the trees and continued to come all the afternoon we were
there. It was a clear blue sky, very warm with a very light easterly breeze.
There were good numbers of Common Blue butterflies and some Small Blues
identified by Malcolm but the Adonis Blue, although seen by a butterfly
group during the day, seemed to avoid us.
We followed up our walk on Lardon Chase by crossing the road to the adjacent
woods, ‘The Hollies’. This was another beautiful area with
Ash and Beech trees growing very tall in many cases to reach the light
and with large open glades and good numbers of wild flowers again. We
were very lucky to have Penny Pearce with us as she was able to identify
many flowers we did not know or could not remember.
It was a great afternoon. Thank you Malcolm for leading us – with
your great knowledge of butterflies and keen eye we made the most of our
Some of the birds seen and heard plus flowers and butterflies:
Red Kite (many) Chiffchaff Grey Partridge
Blackcap Green Woodpecker Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit Robin Blackbird
Song Thrush Meadow Pipit
Painted Lady Large White Brimstone
Small Blue Common Blue Small Heath
Orange Tip caterpillar on stalk of Garlic Mustard
Marjoram Gorse Eyebright
White Campion Bird’s-foot Trefoil Salad Burnet
Woody Nightshade Pyramidal Orchid (in bud White Bryony
Thyme and one in flower) Germander Speedwell
Wild Strawberry Deadly Nightshade Dog’s Mercury (gone over)
Wood Sanicle Oxeye Daisy Bluebell (many gone over)
Greater Stitchwort Herb Bennet Common Gromwell
Heath Speedwell Garlic Mustard Common Mouse-ear
Common Vetch (magenta) and Yellow Archangel Tormentil
similar with single flowers with
some white Black Medick
Bourton-on-the-Water 17 June 2009
David has not written a report of the walk he led at Greystones Farm as
it would be very similar to the one he wrote after the last visit made
by the Club on 18 July 2007, which appeared in Newsletter 87 (Spring 2008).
Thank you David for taking the Club to this interesting area again.
Circular walk from Minster Lovell via Crawley 23 June 2009
Eight members joined me for this walk on a perfect summer’s evening.
We started from the car park near the church in Minster Lovell and made
our way down to the river through the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. We
followed the river to the woods at Maggots Grove, where a highlight of
the walk was good views of some Kestrels with their young. We then climbed
steeply up through the woods before crossing Dry Lane and heading down
the Windrush valley to Crawley. We looked in vain for the Grey Wagtails
and the Kingfisher that can often be seen at the bridge. Another steep
climb out of Crawley gave us splendid views over Crawley Mill and the
meadows, and then it was downhill all the way back down to Minster Lovell
and the cars. On the way we spotted a good number of birds and flowers,
a few butterflies and a couple of mammals, and I was kept busy making
the list as sharp-eyed members called out what they had seen.
As I write up this report in early September (whoops!) I look back at
the list that I made that night, including the flowers and the Swifts,
and it’s a nice reminder of a fine walk at the best time of year.
Thanks to all who joined me.
Old Man’s Beard
Birds seen or heard:
Meadow Brown butterfly
Small White butterfly
Warburg Reserve 4 July 2009
This 267-acre reserve is in what is mainly chalk-land at Bix Bottom near
Henley-on-Thames. Eight Field Club members gathered at the entrance where
we met the Reserve Warden, Giles Alder, who, before commencing a guided
tour, told us about the background and working of the reserve.
The land was purchased by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Naturalist’s
Trust (BBONT), as it was then, in November 1967 and is designated as a
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It holds a rich variety of
plant, insect, animal and bird life and has attracted naturalists over
many years. There are published records going back to the early 1800s.
Our tour started by going through a scrubby area where we saw a large
number of butterfly species, orchids and other wild flowers that grow
in that setting. The scrub has developed in many places where trees have
been felled in the past.
We then proceeded up a hillside to the grassland area where we saw Red
Kites and Buzzards. The grasslands are grazed from October to March by
sheep and some cattle.
Finally we made our way to the woodland area which is mixed broadleaf
with Beech, Oak, Birch, Ash and Hornbeam. Here we were very fortunate
to see Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies. The woodland area also comprises
mixed conifer with Larch, Norway Spruce, Corsican Pine and Douglas Fir.
At the end of the guided tour we thanked Giles for his time and for making
the visit so interesting. We were very fortunate to have his services
as, during the tour, he gave us a very relaxed commentary, pointing out
many species of butterflies, flowers, trees, birds and other matters of
interest. Without his knowledge the visit would not have been so fascinating.
Some of us stayed on for a picnic lunch and later did another tour round
before returning home.
Small (or Essex?) Skipper
Birds seen/heard (H):
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Spotted Orchid
Orange Trefoil (?)
Perforate St John’s-wort
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), a bracket fungus
Robin’s Pin Cushion
Tadpole Bridge 15 July 2009
On a beautiful warm evening, 15 of us walked from Tadpole Bridge along
the Thames to Tenfoot Bridge. At once we saw Tree Sparrows on the bridge
itself. These birds are rather rare now but thanks to a project in nearby
Chimney Meadows where specifically designed nest boxes were installed
and food was provided during the winter of 2008/09 Tree Sparrows are once
again breeding here.
This certainly was an evening for butterflies – many of them on
the very large bushes of Hawthorn grown through with Bramble in flower.
We spent so much time looking at these that we were eventually very late
in getting back to the cars.
Further on we saw 13 Red Kites, some of them obviously juvenile, circling
fairly low over us. They are likely to be nesting in the Buckland area.
The meadows are wired off on the Thames side at least so we could not
get down to see the Adder’s Tongue ferns which have been seen there
previously. The wire fence should certainly be beneficial to the Curlews
which always nest here, though none were calling this evening. The WWII
pill box is now partially sealed off as a bat hibernaculum. We benefited
from having Malcolm Brownsword with us to identify the insects. Altogether
it was a most lovely evening stroll.
Moorhen (getting off the nest)
Fifield 8 August 2009
Some lunched first at the Merrymouth, others arrived in a more sober state
at the village green in Fifield for a circular walk in pleasant, sunny,
summer weather. Thanks to the advertisement in Elite magazine we had four
visitors to swell the total to 18 walkers.
We started northwards along a footpath through the cottages into open
fields and followed a barely discernable footpath through two wooded gullies,
over low-level and high-level bridges crossing streams which feed a brook
rising in Idbury. Over the hills between the wooded gullies and into the
Idbury itself we enjoyed wide views over classical Cotswold landscapes.
We went through Idbury to pick up another path which leads eastwards to
Hibberts Wood. We made a detour around the back of Idbury church to view
the flying structure of Sir Benjamin Baker’s tomb. Sir Benjamin
and Sir John Fowler designed the Forth Railway Bridge.
Leaving Idbury the club members went at various speeds according to the
plants, etc. which interested them so that a long line stretched across
the fields between village and wood. After Hibberts Wood it was necessary
to avoid the horse-rutted, muddy Darcy Dalton Way and return to Fifield
via a field path. How many members were aware that it was a bull that
we sidled past to get through the gate into Fifield’s recreation
ground – a large handsome beast more interested in his adoring cows
The various plants noted included: thistles, burdock, Wayfaring Tree,
Gelder Rose, Meadow Vetching, Pineapple-weed, Scented Mayweed, Herb Robert,
Bramble, Bryony and Horsetail.
Butterflies were abundant and included Painted Lady, Gatekeeper, Small
skipper, Meadow Brown, Small Copper and Cabbage White.
Of the birds, only a Heron and Kestrel were seen but many others were
Asthall walk 20 August 2009
What a lovely evening for a walk! At 6.30 p.m. ten of us gathered in Worsham
Lane for a short walk. It was just as well it was a short walk as it was
getting dark by the time we returned. I half expected Ken to send out
a search party – I don’t have much of a sense of direction
but I was on home ground so not likely to get lost!
We set off down the footpath walking into the sun and wind. To the south,
the skyline was dominated by two enormous cranes, which are being used
in the construction of an extension to the reservoir above Worsham. Ahead
of us was the lovely view over Asthall and beyond up the Windrush valley.
We entered a grass field through a metal kissing gate. Although this field
is not floristically rich it does have a short south-facing bank where
several interesting flowering plants can be found, the most notable of
which is Wild Clary. It was late in the season but we did find a few flowering
spikes and about 20 rosettes of leaves of this plant.
The birders in the group soon spotted four Grey Herons in the field on
the other side of the river. Two Mute Swans floated majestically downstream
and we could see a flock of white geese by the river further down. The
attractive flowers of Purple Loosestrife stood out from the other river-side
At Kitesbridge, the river widens where cattle have gone for water. Here
we stopped to identify several plants typical of this habitat, like Water
Forget-me-not, Water Mint and Water Chickweed. Those who moved on ahead
were treated to a sighting of a Kingfisher – so fleeting that most
of us missed it!
At Asthall Bridge we stopped to examine the carving of a rifle made by
an injured soldier recovering in Asthall Manor which was used as a hospital
in WWII. We also noted Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria), a small fern,
with fan-shaped leaflets, growing on the stonework of the bridge. This
plant was apparently once used as a herbal remedy for rickets. As a diversion
from the intended route we continued along the road and walked round the
village of Asthall before taking the side track up to the farm, leaving
the pond on our right. It was good to see that the leaves on the Horse
Chestnut trees in the village appear healthy – so many in this area
are suffering from disease. Just before reaching the farm, there is a
lovely display of cup lichens on the dry-stone wall, on which lots of
thistledown had been caught.
As we passed the farmhouse we saw House Martins gathering on the wires
– another indication of the time of year. Up the track, bulaces
(both yellow and red varieties) were falling from the hedge, providing
tasty refreshment. Somebody offered the information that these wild plums
were introduced by the Romans but this is not certain. It was not until
we reached the fields of beans, which were black and almost ready for
harvest, that we started to find a few interesting plants again. Here
a few arable ‘weeds’ like Heartsease and Black Bindweed had
survived the herbicide sprays.
By the time we had reached the road, light was fading. So we upped our
rate of progress on the final leg back to Stonefold. Unfortunately, a
few days before the verges had been cut, but Field Scabious flowers had
survived right under the hedge and some Yellow Vetchling was in flower
in a rain water run-off channel. Further up I found some Wild Liquorice
(Astragalus glycyphyllos), mostly gone to seed, which is a local species
of rough grassland on dry limestone soils.
The evening ended with an enjoyable chat over coffee/tea and biscuits.
Red Bartsia Odonites vernus
Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
Bladder Campion Silene vulgaris
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Musk Thistle Carduus nutans
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare
Black Horehound Ballota nigra
Smooth Hawk’s-beard Crepis capillaris
Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum
Wild Clary Salvia verbenaca
Purple-loosestrife Lythrum salicaria
White Clover Trifolium repens
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica
Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpiodes
Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris
Water Mint Mentha aquatica
Common St John’s-wort Hypericum perforatum
Water Chickweed Myosoton aquaticum
Blue Water-speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica
Common Bistort Persicaria bistorta
Great Willowherb Epilobium hirsutum
Good-King-Henry Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Greater Burdock Arctium lappa
Docks Rumex spp.
Blackberry Rubus fruticosus
Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara
Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Water Figwort Scrophularia auriculata
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria
Hemp Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria
White Deadnettle Lamium album
Meadow Crane’s-bill Geranium pratense
Field Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis
Soapwort Saponaria officinalis
Nipplewort Lapsana communis
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
White Campion Silene latifolia
Fool’s Parsley Aethusa cynapium
Pineapple-weed Matricaria discoides
Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill Geranium molle
Fat-hen Chenopodium album
Scentless Mayweed Triplerospermum inodorum
Greater Plantain Plantago major
Common Knotgrass Polygonum aviculare
Hardheads Centaurea nigra
Field Forget-me-not Myosotis arvensis
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris
Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Perennial Sow-thistle Sonchus arvensis
Field Pansy Viola arvensis
Black-bindweed Fallopia convolvulus
Dandelion Taraxacum sp.
Hedge Bindweed Calystegia sepium
Hedge Woundwort Stachys sylvatica
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Old Man’s Beard Clematis vitalba
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis
Wild Liquorice Astragalus glycyphyllos
Great Rissington walk 6 September 2009
On a fine Sunday afternoon, Gordon Ottewell led five of us from the Lamb
at Great Rissington down the street and through the churchyard into a
field with prominent ridge and furrow markings. We passed a ‘well
blasted’ dead Oak tree which had a large hole in its side which
was well marked with bird lime and must have been used for nesting over
the years. A large flock of gulls, which probably come from nearby Bourton-on-the-Water
lakes, were following some ploughing in the fields ahead.
Several Buzzards were calling and seen both high and low in the sky together
with powered gliders from nearby Rissington airfield.
It was a good walk to find masses of ripe blackberries, sloes and crab
apples. The most common trees were Ash but there were some good specimen
Oaks and Field Maples which will turn a lovely colour in the autumn.
Game shooting must be carried on in the area because there were quantities
of Pheasants – adult and juvenile – along much of the walk
and also a couple of families of Red Partridge, well camouflaged against
the freshly ploughed soil. Maize was growing in several fields and corners
of cereals were left in some fields for the game birds. We walked as far
as Little Rissington church and here, part of the churchyard was not cut
and yielded good numbers of grasshoppers plus an exquisite Small Copper
butterfly and two Common Blues of the female blue variety, one of which
was very tiny. There were several wild flowers in the churchyard and it
was good to see it partly left for wildlife.
We headed back up through Little Rissington village and returned to Great
Rissington by way of another field path.
There were fine views over Bourton-on-the-Water and Clapton from places
along the walk together with views towards the Stow-on-the-Wold area.
Altogether this was an interesting and pleasant walk and we thank Gordon
for leading us and sharing some interesting local knowledge and entertaining
tales en route.
Some flowers and plants seen:
Red Campion Stitchwort(?) Field Woundwort
Ragwort Common Bistort Selfheal
Herb Robert Silverweed Rosebay Willowherb
Hart’s-tongue fern Great Willowherb Creeping Thistle
Meadow Crane’s-bill Ladies Bedstraw Blackberry
Meadow Vetchling Red Clover Yarrow
White Clover Black Medic Hedge Bindweed
Salad Burnet Knapweed Hogweed
Garlic Mustard Burdock White Dead-nettle
Robin’s Pin Cushion
Oak Ash Poplar
Field maple Elm suckers Gelder Rose
Some butterflies seen:
Common Blue Small Copper Painted Lady
Red Admiral Small Tortoiseshell Speckled Wood
Some birds seen and
Buzzard Crow Jackdaw
House Sparrow Chaffinch Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit Yellowhammer Green Woodpecker
Pheasant Red Partridge Greenfinch
Herring Gull Swallows House Martin
moth found as a caterpillar – July 2009
I found a caterpillar of the Slender Burnished Brass moth in a bunch of
Mediterranean thyme which I bought from Waitrose. It was green with a
thin white stripe from its head to the end of its abdomen. It pupated
in the thyme and emerged 3 weeks later as a moth on 7 July. As it is a
scarce migrant I was unsure as to whether to release it. I telephoned
David Redhead, Oxfordshire’s Moth Officer, who contacted Martin
Townsend, the Oxfordshire County Moth Recorder. He came over at 8 a.m.
the next morning! He confirmed the identification of the moth and took
eight or nine photographs in quick succession. He was dead keen and in
10 minutes he shot off to visit a farm – perhaps to see another
rarity. I released the moth that night and off it flew.
Uncommon bumble bee
discovered in Witney – 7 July 2009
I have taken up the hobby of studying bumble bees which I usually find
as road kills, mainly on the Witney to North Leigh road. I send them to
Ivan Wright, who is the chairman of Shotover Wildlife and a member of
BWARS (Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society). I send a few bees at a
time to him and he identifies them for me. One of these was identified
as an uncommon black (melanic) female bee Bombus ruderatus, which is a
scarce and declining species. Furthermore he sent the specimen to be studied
at a laboratory for further testing. The typical striped form of this
bee has two yellow stripes on the thorax and one on the abdomen but the
colouring is variable.
Alison Weaver (via
BITS AND BOBS
Thank you very much for supporting our annual plant sale which was held
once again at the last indoor meeting in May. We raised £40.50 which
was a welcome boost to WOFC’s income. The plants which were not
sold were given another chance of finding a home at Foxholes Open Day
on 10 May or on the Friends of Wychwood plant stall at the Forest Fair
on 6 September.
Message of thanks
I would like to thank everyone for their messages, kind thoughts and condolences
on the death of my husband, John. A particular thanks to those who attended
his funeral at Kencott and for generous donations. A sum of £600
was collected and sent to the Welfare Fund of the Witney Branch of the
Royal British Legion, a charity close to John’s heart.
A Guide to Finding Fungi in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire
At this time of year when you are out in the field it is useful to have
a good pocket guide to identify the fungi you come across. One that comes
thoroughly recommended for local forays describes over 200 species of
the wild mushrooms or toadstools that you are likely to find in Berks,
Bucks or Oxon. It was compiled by Peter Creed, who as most of you already
know is an expert on fungi and a first-rate photographer. As with other
publications by the same publisher, it is attractively designed and beautifully
illustrated with photographs. Published by Pisces, this book is available
at www.naturebureau.co.uk/shop, priced £5.95.
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