|Whitecross Green Woods|
|OS grid reference:||SP 602 146|
|Nearest postcode||OX5 2RQ|
|Usual work:||Woodland management|
Whitecross Green Woods is an ancient woodland managed by BBOWT (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) on the border between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Over 300 species of plants have been recorded at this site, in addition to abundant numbers of birds, mammals, butterflies and moths. Rare butterflies found at Whitecross Green Woods include the brown hairstreak and black hairstreak butterflies. There is also some open grassland and a pond at the site. Whitecross Green Wood and the nearby Oriel Wood are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The ancient woodland of Whitecross Green contains a large proportion of native trees and shrubs, including ash, hazel and oak. Blackthorn is abundant within the woodland at the site. There are some areas of conifers that are being converted back to broadleaved woodland. The lower-lying Whitecross Green Wood is situated on heavy Oxford Clay, leading to moist woodland habitat.
Whitecross Green Wood provides habitat for a large number of woodland flora including the bluebell, ramson, helleborines, enchanter's nightshade, sanicle and yellow archangel. The wide grassland tracks contain a mixture of woodland and grassland flora including greater butterfly orchid, tormentil, pepper saxifrage, primrose, centaury, meadow vetchling and yellow rattle. Wetland flora and fauna thrive around the pond and within marshy areas at the site. Species within these areas include ragged robin, bugle, wild angelica, sneezewort, marsh thistle, water mint, meadowsweet, hemp agrimony and several varieties sedge and rush.
The brown hairstreak and black hairstreak butterflies are both found at Whitecross Green Woods. The black hairstreak and the brown hairstreak - two of Britain's rarest butterflies - are Species of Conservation Concern. The black hairstreak is thought to be rare due to its apparent inability to colonise new areas, even when there is suitable hedgerow or small woodland habitat nearby. Blackthorn and wild plum are the main sources of food for the black hairstreak and brown hairstreak larva. Other butterflies recorded at the site include the marbled white, wood white, large skipper, white admiral, meadow brown, common blue, orange tip, brimstone, speckled wood, ringlet, purple emperor and gatekeeper. Other insects identified at Whitecross Green Wood include the blue-bordered carpet moth, four-dotted footman moth, dragonflies and the great green bush cricket.
The pond provides perfect habitat for a large number of species, including the great crested newts, which are a national priority species. Fallow deer, muntjac deer, grass snakes and birds such as the grasshopper warbler, nightingale and turtle dove are among the larger inhabitants at Whitecross Green Woods.
In 1964 areas of broadleaved trees at Whitecross Green Woods were felled and replanted with Scots pine. BBOWT are currently working to restore these areas of conifers back to native broadleaved woodland through coppicing and woodland management. This activity encourages biodiversity and assists in the provision of suitable habitats for insects and birds. Blackthorn is coppiced to ensure structural suitability and vigorous growth in order to ensure a constant supply of the main source of food of the caterpillars of the rare hairstreak butterfly that are found at the site. BBOWT manage the grassland by harvesting hay in order to maintain the low nutrient levels in the soil that are required by many wildflowers.
OCV have assisted at Whitecross Green Woods in creating a scallop along one of the wide rides, by cutting back and burning encroaching scrub species. These sheltered sunny corridors through the woods are favoured by plants and insects, especially butterflies.
Leave the A34 between Oxford and junction 9 of the M40 at the B4027 heading to Islip. In Islip turn left onto Middle Street towards Charlton-on-Otmoor. Drive though Charlton-on-Otmoor, Fencott and Murcott. Leave Murcott on Fencott Road. Whitecross Green Woods will be on your right.