Naturalists' News and Sightings


Floodplain Meadow


The Green Team have created a 600 m2 floodplain meadow in Barton Fields in the fen area in which we have sowed a wide range of native wetland species. This year prominent species include Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Oxeye Daisy, Square-stalked St John's Wort, Common Knapweed and Marsh Lousewort. The latter was donated as seed by Judy Webb and was sown in December 2020. It is a biennial semi-parasitic plant having sedges and rushes as hosts. It performs the same role as Yellow Rattle does in drier grassland. Unfortunately in the winter of 2021 the area was flooded for about a month and we suspect that most of the seed was lost. However about six large plants have appeared this year, and we plan to collect and spread their seed this autumn as the existing biennial plants will die.

from David Guyoncourt: July 2022

Radley Lakes Trust


The Trust held inaugural events on 25-26 September.

On Saturday 25 September there was a chance to meet the team, hear about progress, view displays and ask questions.  This was in the Silk Hall at Radley College. On Sunday 26 September there were two guided walks at the Lakes, suitable for all ages: one based on Thrupp Lake and one on Barton Fields.

updated: December 2021

Annual Hay Cut Barton Fields


Last week the main meadow at Barton Fields was mown and stacked. The hay is removed to ensure the nutrient levels are kept low - although this year the Thames flowed through part of it  twice for several weeks and the vegetation was high. On Wednesday the meadow was cut by a tractor-powered giant rotary mower. On Thursday and Friday the cuttings were raked into piles for drying and some stacked by members of the Barton Fields Green Team, who were joined on Saturday morning by over 20 of the Abingdon Green Gym and three members of the 2nd Abingdon Scouts with two leaders to complete the staking and re-rake the whole meadow. The compost heaps slowly decompose and provide excellent sites for the Grass Snakes to lay eggs in the Spring, as evidenced by the number of this year's hatchlings relocated from last year's heaps to avoid being smothered by the new hay layers.


from Graham Bateman: 1 September 2021

Development threats to Nyatt Field


Nyatt Field which lies upstream of Abingdon Lock suffered trauma last autumn when the Community Woodland bordering the Thames was felled.  It is a floodplain meadow about 20 hectares in area and has many characteristic floodplain plants, though not the plant assemblages of meadows such as Long Mead at Eynsham and Pixey Mead NW of Oxford, mowed in early summer for centuries, which consequently have developed the species rich Meadow Foxtail / Great Burnet (MG4) plant assemblage.  Nyatt field is mowed in autumn which removes scrub and in spring Marsh Orchids and later Pyramidal Orchids (hundreds) are found there.  In summer tall herbs such as Meadow Rue, Hemp Agrimony, Yellow Loosestrife, Grass Vetchling, Tufted Vetch and many others are found in abundance.  The pictures show Yellow Loosestrife which at present dominates several acres of the site.  Unfortunately there is outline planning permission for this meadow to be dug for gravel!

from David Guyoncourt 29 July 2021


Badger in garden

This emaciated female badger photographed on a trail camera in my Peachcroft garden 02.45am Sunday, attacked a hedgehog 15 minutes later on next door's front lawn, the squeals of the hedgehog raising neighbours from sleep who frightened off the badger. Hedgehog put down by vet next day.

from Graham Bateman: 12 July 2022

Beautiful Demoiselle


I saw this Beautiful Demoiselle in my garden in Henwood for the first time ever!


from Margaret Abel: 23 May 2022

Muslin Moth


This Muslin Moth female was resting on our window today - first macro-moth I have seen in the garden this year!


from David Guyoncourt: 10 May 2022

Peat-free compost fungi

GillianT/2204_Peat_free_fungi-1.jpg GillianT/2204_Peat_free_fungi-2.jpg

The peat free compost I use is based on wood fibres.  It grows masses of tiny toadstools.  Can anyone suggest an ID? Photos show one Antirrhinum in a pot of 10cm diameter with more than a dozen toadstools. Underside view shows gills with black spores.

(email ID suggestions to

from Gillian Taylor: 19 April 2022

Scarlet Elf Cups

Scarlet Elf Cup fungi amongst moss on fallen branch.

While clearing a path along the riverside wood in Barton Fields we found these Scarlet Elf Cups growing on a well-rotted branch.  We  have found these before in late winter/ early spring so are not usually found in autumn forays.

from David Guyoncourt: 6 March 2022

First butterfly sighting for 2022

Today I saw my first male brimstone butterfly of the year, it was at Lashford Lane nature reserve (BBOWT) in Wootton. In sunshine of course.

from Felicity Jenkins: 1 February 2022

Little Egret return to River Stert

A Little Egret has again been a regular visitor to River Stert in North Abingdon over the past few weeks, since the Environment Agency cleared a build-up of vegetation.

from Adrian Allsop: 15 December 2021

Winter thrushes and fallen apples


This week my fallen apples have attracted 2 song thrushes, 7 redwings, 2 fieldfares and up to 13 blackbirds including this one with white on the head.

from Gillian Taylor: 2 December 2021

What's been eating our roses and tomatoes?


My sharp-eyed grandson spotted this large green caterpillar with yellow ‘go faster’ stripe, eating our tomato plants. It turns out to be the larva of the Bright-line Brown-eye Moth (Lacanobia oleracea) also called the Tomato Moth.

Today I noticed some shiny boldly-spotted caterpillars with erect stance, eating the leaves of our rose. They turn out to be Large Rose Sawfly larvae. I am happy to share my plants with both of these larvae.

from  David Guyoncourt: 11 September 2021