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Glowworms

Eleven of the more intrepid of us met at 8:30 pm on 14 July for a ‘crepuscular’ – twilight – walk in the Stonesfield area.

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Hackpen Hill and Crowhole Bottom

John C writes:

Fourteen of us got well and truly soaked when we visited this steep chalk-grassland site near Childrey on 7 July 2021. After about half an hour admiring vast numbers of Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids halfway up the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl the heavens threw everything they had at us for fifteen or twenty minutes. It was certainly better to go on with the rain at our backs than turn back and face it. By the time we got down to Crowhole Bottom, however, the sun was out again and plenty of Butterflies were active, notably Marbled Whites, several Dark Green Fritillaries and a number of Ringlets. Alas, we didn’t find any of the Green Hairstreaks for which the site is known, but the sharper-eared of us heard the unmistakable ‘wet-my-lips wet-my-lips’ of a Quail in a nearby corn field. Another plentiful species was Yellow-wort, a member of the Gentian/Centaury family. My favourite, however, was the rather glamorous Ichneumon in the picture.

My thanks are due to Malcolm, who knows the site well and who was due to lead us. Unfortunately he was indisposed but kindly gave me comprehensive directions and suggestions.

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William Fowler Memorial Wood and Glyme Farm

Pete B writes:

On June 29th, despite a clash with England game and the prospect of poor weather, eleven members enjoyed what turned out to be a lovely evening walk led by the former County Ecologist, Craig Blackwell.

Starting from Chipping Norton we were led to Glyme Farm via the William Fowler Memorial Wood. The farm land has been in Stewardship Schemes for many years which has resulted in beautiful wildflower rich limestone grasslands and meadows. An impressive showing of Meadow Clary was a highlight of the walk and one of only 13 such sites in the county.

Banks of Meadow and White Clary

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Greystones Farm

Maggie C writes:

Sixteen members of the club visited Greystones Farm Nature Reserve in Bourton-on-the-Water on 17 June. This is a farmed area of wetland next to the Rivers Eye and Dickler. The old hay meadows are rich in plantlife, including the ‘star’ plant the Southern Marsh Orchid which we saw in abundance. We noticed that some were hybrids with the Common Spotted Orchid also. There is also an interesting archaeology walk devoted to an ancient hillfort. We enjoyed lunch outside the on-site cafe and a good catch-up with old friends and new members alike. Many thanks to Brenda for compiling the species list, which will be listed in full in the club’s autumn newsletter. Other highlights included mating Banded Demoiselles and Thick-legged Flower Beetle.

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Deer Park Wood

Jonathan Noel writes:

On Saturday 5th June on a very hot morning 17 members visited Deer Park Wood in Witney. We had a very interesting introduction to the history and recent activity of the wood from our leader Roger Hepworth and his wife Esther of the Witney Woodland Volunteers (WWV). The land on which the wood stands used to be part of RAF Witney and in 1940 was taken over by De Havilland. During the WW2 Spitfires and Hurricanes were repaired and maintained here. The land is now owned by West Oxfordshire District Council and they have given WWV a ten year agreement to manage the wood. We learnt about ‘old one eye’ a female muntjac living in the wood and her boyfriend ‘split ear’. The movements of the nocturnal animals are recorded on night time cameras and then shown on their website/facebook page. When WWV took over this 11-acre site it was in a sorry state. Since then they have planted hundreds of trees and transplanted wild flowers. The WWV have regular work parties to maintain the wood.

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Dawn Chorus

2 May 2021 was International Dawn Chorus Day. Six of us met at 4:00 am for the Club’s annual Dawn Chorus walk between Minster Lovell and Crawley led by Adrian S. It was cold and the birds were slow waking up; the first thing we heard was a Pipistrelle near the ruins – it seemed even the bats had (sensibly) decided to stay at home. The earliest risers this year were Jackdaws and many Song Thrushes. Later we heard and saw a lot of Whitethroats – there seemed to be one in almost every bush. Mist was rising from the river and most of us were glad to see the sun and warm up when we got to Crawley. By 8:00 am when we arrived back in Minster Lovell we had recorded a creditable total of 42 species. And looking forward to breakfast!

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Parsonage Moor

Parsonage Moor near Cothill is the largest example of alkaline fen in central England. On two socially-distanced visits in early August 2020 twelve members visited the site. The main attraction was the flowering Grass of Parnassus but there was also a variety of insects including Long Winged Coneheads (a species of Bush Cricket) and Lesser Marsh grasshoppers, as well as several dragonflies. Several Common Lizards were basking on the boardwalks.

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Broadwell Airfield June 2020.

Sixteen members visited Broadwell Airfield, a very good botanical site, on 17 and 19 June for the first three of our ‘socially distanced’ walks. There is a full report in the newsletter. As well as innumerable Pyramidal Orchids there were a number of other notable things, especially several ‘tents’ of Small Eggar moth caterpillars, lots of Whitethroats singing and picking-off the caterpillars, a large clump of Dyer’s Greenweed and several examples of Grass Vetch. Overall a total of 114 plant species were recorded.