|OS grid reference:||SP 749 321|
|Nearest postcode:||MK17 0NX|
|Usual work:||Scrub clearance, hedgelaying, fencing|
Pilch Fields consists of two rare meadowland fields separated by a medieval ridge that overlooks the Buckingham countryside. The fields cover 29 acres and contain a mixture of rare dry and wet grassland within spring-fed marshy habitat and ridge-and-furrow areas. Pilch Fields has been a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1976, and is noted for an abundance of wild flora, such as the green-winged orchid.
The geology at the site is that of glacial till with undifferentiated glacial deposits and exposures of mudstone. The site contains a mixture of neutral and calcareous limestone grassland. There are springs that feed into nearby streams and ditches, thus creating an area of wetland habitat.
Pilch Fields are known for the large number of flora that thrives in the meadows. Species found here include marsh marigold, green-winged orchid, bee orchid, early marsh orchid, cowslip, dropwort, spiny rest-harrow, salad burnet, stemless thistle, pepper saxifrage and marsh valerian. Fauna at the site includes meadow barley, carnation sedge, upright brome and quaking grass. Meadow oat-grass is unusually abundant within the species-rich calcareous grassland.
Wetland areas of the site support fen habitat notable for an abundance of hard and blunt flowered rushes, marsh valerian, greater bird's-foot trefoil, brown sedge and meadowsweet. There are also reports of flora and fauna being found within this area that are rare within the county, such as fen bedstraw, sneezewort, ragged robin and the early marsh orchid. The fields are surrounded by hedges that increase the biodiversity at the site.
Species of butterflies recorded at Pilch Fields include the marbled white, meadow brown and gatekeeper. Yellow meadow ants also thrive at the site, the anthills of which are often covered with wild flower seedlings. Yellow meadow ants are small brownish-yellow ants that nest and feed underground in grassland areas that are not mown, such as at Pilch Fields. The worker ants are nocturnal so are not often seen. They feed on the honeydew from root aphids, which they breed in their nests. There has been large number of the six-spot burnet moths reported at Pilch Fields. Numerous birds have been recorded at the site, including the green woodpecker, chiffchaff, snipe, kestrel and black cap.
OCV have managed a long hedge at the boundary of Pilch Fields through hedgelaying for many years. We have also assisted at the reserve by constructing fences in order to allow animals to graze areas of the meadows. Grazing is a wonderful natural way in which to keep scrub at bay and enable a diversity of wild flora and fauna to flourish, thus the site is grazed by cattle from July to November. Where grazing is not possible, OCV have assisted by clearing scrub that otherwise invades the meadows. We have also helped record the number of wild flora at the site, such as the green-winged orchid, in order to gain a better understanding of the wildlife present, and cutting up fallen trees.
From Oxford, take the A34 towards Bicester. At Wedlebury Interchange, take the second exit onto the A41 heading towards the
A4421 (Buckingham/Bicester/Aylesbury). At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Oxford Road, and then go straight across one roundabout. At the following roundabout, take the second exit onto King's End and continue on Queen's Road. Take a slight right at B4100/Field Street, then take the second exit of the roundabout onto Buckingham Road. Go straight over two roundabouts. At the following roundabout, take the second exit onto the A4421. At the next roundabout, take the third exit onto the A421/Tingewick Bypass. Continue straight on the A421 turning right onto Pilch Lane. The reserve entrance is less than half a mile down Pilch Lane. The road bends sharply left and the entrance to the reserve is on the right.