Nature Reserves

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Foxholes, West OxfordshireWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Foxholes
Nature Reserve
Managed by:BBOWT
OS grid reference:SP 252 207 (Car park), SP 2516 2045 (Reserve)
Nearest postcode:OX7 6RW (Car park)
Usual work:Coppicing, scrub clearance

Foxholes nature reserve is a beautiful 165 acre BBOWT woodland and wet meadow that slopes gently down to the River Evenlode in West Oxfordshire. This wildlife haven is especially renowned for its spectacular spring bluebells and abundant bird life. The woodland is also known for the diverse range of fungi that thrive here. The woodland at Foxhole was once part of the ancient Wychwood Forest.

Flora and Fauna

Foxholes nature reserve is famed for its carpets of bluebells on the woodland floor during late spring. Other native floras found within the woods at Foxholes include red campion, violet, primrose, bugle, foxglove, corydalis, heath spotted-orchid, pyramid orchid and herb-Paris. Flora and fauna found within the wet meadow that runs alongside the River Evenlode include devil´┐Żsbit scabious, marsh speedwell and great burnet. The woodland at the site contains a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees with species such as ancient oak and beach, and ash coppices.

Over 200 species of fungi have been recorded in the woodland of Foxholes in late summer and autumn. Among the species found here are beechwood sickener, oyster mushroom, stinkhorn, milkcap, tawny grisette, false death cap, rusulla, fly agaric, beefsteak, bracket fungi and sulphur turf. There is also a diversity of liverworts and mosses to be found at Foxholes, many of which are rare in the region.

Numerous species of butterflies thrive at Foxholes including the holly blue, comma, meadow brown, ringlet, white admiral and speckled wood. Species of birds seen or heard around the woodland and riverside at Foxholes include woodcock, treecreeper, sparrowhawk, nuthatch, kingfisher, mallard, snipe, tawny owl, barn owl and little owl. Grass snakes, adders and various species of lizards can often be found basking in summer sunshine in secluded locations at the site. Larger inhabitants of the woods include rabbits, hares, squirrels, badgers, foxes, munjac deer, roe deer and fallow deer.

Conservation Management

The meadows at Foxholes are preserved through light grazing in order to keep the fertility of the soil low, and thus continue to provide ideal habitat for the wild floras that thrive there. The wide rides within the reserve are maintained to stop encroachment from scrub to ensure that they can continue to provide sheltered sunny corridors for flora, fauna and insects. OCV have assisted with this essential maintenance of paths, such as sections of the Oxfordshire Way National Trail, by re-surfacing sections that are prone to flooding, constructing additional paths and scrub clearance to maintain/improve existing paths. This activity also protects the fragile woodland floor by directing visitors to well-maintained paths.

Coppicing is an important task at Foxholes in order to ensure structural suitability for birds and insects, whilst also allowing dappled sunlight to reach the woodland floor thus increasing the biodiversity of the site. OCV regularly assist with various stages of coppicing through tasks such as felling selected trees to thin the forest and protecting the stalls from deer using brash from the trees. Stakes harvested from the coppice are re-used for hedgelaying. Once the coppiced trees have re-grown sufficiently to withstand the attention from deer, OCV have removed the protective layer of brash in order to allow nature back in. Scrub clearance is another important task undertaken by OCV at the site, for example by clearing invasive scrub from smothering young trees, thereby allowing them to properly develop.

Location

Leave Oxford on the A44 towards Chipping Norton. In Chipping Norton leave the A44 and bear left onto the A361 towards Burford. At a mini-roundabout take the right onto West Street, followed by a left onto Church Hill Road towards Churchill and Bledington. At a T-junction with Bledington on your right, take a left to Foscot. In Foxcot take a left onto a small track and follow the track as it goes straight and then bends bends right. Take a left after the bend to a small car park. Note that the track is very bumpy and may only be suitible for 4x4s.