Nature Reserves

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Burgess Field Nature Park, North OxfordWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Greenmoor Ponds, Woodcote
Managed by:Oxford City Council
OS grid reference:SP 49725 07491
Nearest postcode:OX2 0NL
Usual work:Meadow mowing, hedgelaying, scrub control

Burgess Field Nature Park is another Oxford nature reserve that used to be a city landfill site. It's a large site of 8.5 hectares and, like Aston's Eyot and the Trap Grounds, it lies close to the river Thames - to be precise, between the main railway line and Port Meadow.

History

Until the early 1980s, Burgess Field was the City Council open landfill site. This explains why it stands noticeably higher than the neighbouring Trap Grounds allotments and Port Meadow itself. When it was closed, a clay cap was put in place, the area was roughly landscaped, and partially planted with trees and hedges. Burgess Field was then left largely to grow and mature undisturbed, though the main paths have been kept mown and the hedges occasionally trimmed.

Landscape and Habitat

It is a mix of rough open grassland and small copses, with a belt of more mature trees along its northern end. Once an open landfill site, it is now a delightful, open green space that acts like a magnet for walkers, joggers and nature lovers alike. It can be accessed from along the causeway on Port Meadow, or across Port Meadow from Wolvercote.

Flora and Fauna

Burgess Field is home to a huge variety of wildlife, which is largely untroubled by the many regular users of the area. A couple of roe deer are often spotted at the northern end, where a barn owl regularly quarters the grassland area at dusk. Birdwatchers have noted blackcap, chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat, song thrush, linnet, goldfinch, chaffinch, green and greater spotted woodpeckers, woodcock, snipe and willow warbler, as well as the ubiquitous blackbird, wren and robin. It is also home to many butterflies, with marbled white, speckled wood, small tortoiseshell, common blue, meadow brown, ringlet, small white and small heath the most regularly seen, and with orange tip, brimstone, red admiral, comma and peacock the less frequent visitors. It was also home to a colony of small skippers, sadly noticeable by their absence in summer 2017.

A variety of wildflowers abound, including ragged robin, lady’s bedstraw, common knapweed, meadow cranesbill, meadow vetchling, oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, pineapple weed, red clover and two varieties of orchid. The seasonal displays of the spreading clumps of snowdrops, daffodils and primroses are much admired.

Photos of a selection of some of the above can be found at the local Friends group site.

Conservation Management

The land is owned by the City Council, and we'll be working with a newly formed local group, Friends of Burgess Field, that wants to take a hand in its upkeep. To begin with, we'll dismantle as much as we can of a redundant post and wire fence that stretches the entire length of the eastern side of the site. We'll be pulling staples, rolling barbed wire, and knocking out posts. Given its location, the site has huge conservation and recreational potential. OCV’s first task there on Sunday 15th June 2018 is likely to be the first in a series of regular tasks that will involve meadow mowing, hedgelaying, and scrub control.

Directions

Leave central Oxford on Walton Street via Jericho. At the roundabout junction of Walton Street, St Bernard's Street, Kingston Road and Walton Well Road turn left into Walton Well Road. Drive to the end of Walton Well Road and turn right into port Meadow on a hard-top track. Access to Port Meadow is via a locked gate. Follow the track past the Trap Ground Allotments to the main access point to the Burgess Field Nature Park. Access to the Nature Park is via a locked gate. Richard Gordon holds keys for both access gates. Pedestrian access is also possible via the footbridge across the railway from the end of Aristotle Lane and a footpath across Port Meadow from Wolvercote.