Nature Reserves

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St Mary's Fields, Kidlington, OxfordshireWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

St Mary's Fields, Kidlington
Managed by:Kidlington Parish Council
OS grid reference:SP 497 148
Nearest postcode:OX5 2AZ
Usual work:Raking, scrub clearance

St. Mary's Fields Reserve consists of a 14 acre conservation area between St. Mary's Church and the River Cherwell, that has developed a diverse range of flora as well as supporting an array of birds and insects. The meadow areas attract a variety of butterflies in particular, which include the elusive brown hairstreak among many more. The number of both breeding and visiting species of birds has been seen to increase since the site management started in 2000.

Flora and Fauna

A variety of trees and shrub have been growing at the site for hundreds of years, with younger trees being self-seeded to create a diverse mixture of woodland and scrub that provides an abundance of food and shelter for other species. Varieties present include alder, apple, ash, buckthorn, cherry, chestnut, field maple, hawthorn, hornbeam, and willow. These in turn attract a range of both breeding and over-wintering species of birds, including blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch, chaffinch, chiffchaff, collared dove, crow, cuckoo, fieldfare, garden warbler, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, jay, linnet, long tailed tit, redwing, robin, sedge warbler siskin, skylark, song thrush, swift, pheasant, whitethroat, willow warbler, and wood pigeon.

There is an abundance of blackthorn (prunus spinosa) at St. Mary's Fields Reserve, on which evidence of the rare brown hairstreak butterfly has been found. Other butterflies observed at the reserve include brimstone, common blue, Essex skipper, gatekeeper, green veined white, marbled white, meadow brown, orange tip, painted lady, peacock, red admiral, ringlet, small skipper, small white, speckled wood, and tortoiseshell butterflies. The butterflies, along with bees, are often seen visiting the wild flowers growing at the site. Flora that can be found here include common St John's wart, clover, common vetch, hairy St John's wart, hogweed, lady's smock, meadowsweet, ox-eye daisy, tufted vetch, yellow flag iris, yellow rattle, and wood woundwort. Grass snakes also live within this area of the site.

Conservation Management

Conservation is carried out on the site with the aim of conserving the habitats while also enhancing public access. The work carried out has included creating and upgrading footpaths within the site in order to allow the public to enjoy the site without damaging the flora and fauna they have come to enjoy. Clearance of the pond, as well as areas of scrub, is carried out in order to maintain the wildlife rich habitats and allow sunlight to reach the undergrowth.

Wild flowers native to the area are also being cared for through traditional mowing of the meadow areas, as well as the planting of additional plants in order to increase the volume and variety of flora at the site.

OCV is going to help with raking up after the meadow is cut in Summer. This provides the yearly cycle that British meadow flora have evolved to thrive in and allows the sunlight to reach the delicate plants. We will also performing scrub clearance to help ensure that scrub does not invade the whole site thereby protecting the diversity of habitats. OCV will also be cutting scallops in the blackthorn to create areas of re-growth of differently aged habitat.

Directions

Leave Oxford on the Banbury Road. When you reach Kidlington turn right onto Sterling Road Approach and then onto High Street. Continue and then cross The Moors/Mill St and continue down Church Street. Parking is behind the church in the Parish car park, from which there are footpaths to the reserve.