|Managed by:||Woodland Trust|
|OS grid reference:||SP 628 163|
|Nearest postcode:||HP18 9UZ|
|Usual work:||Path maintenance, tree-tube removal|
Piddington Wood is a broad-leaved woodland that covers 18.4 hectares near Piddington and Upper Arncott, to the South-East of Bicester. Over half of the site consists of semi-natural ancient woodland that used to be part of the Bernwood Hunting forest. It is thought to have been covered with woodland continuously since around 1600AD. The remaining areas of the site are a mixture of open spaces and younger woodland. Among the species found at the site is one of Britainís rarest butterflies, the black hairstreak.
This site was new to OCV in 2009, where we assisted by removing the tree-tubes used to protect young trees from deer and squirrels, and by path maintenance and widening.
The site is on a North-Westerly facing hill and lies on calcareous clay. This ensures that the woodland is generally wet due to the retention of water in the ground. Within the older sections of woodland there are ancient ditches, woodbanks and an ancient boundary bank that forms part of the Piddington Parish boundary.
Flora and Fauna
The semi-ancient woodland consists largely of oak and ash, with hazel, field maple and open glades. There is evidence of long-term coppicing of hazel and ash within this woodland. On the woodland floor are a variety of species including bramble, dogs mercury, bluebells, primroses, pendulous sedge. The more recent woodland consists of ash, oak, cherry and blackthorn.
Various of species of butterflies have been recorded at the site, including the white admiral, purple hairstreak, white letter hairstreak, comma, peacock and purple emperor. The black hairstreak, one of Britainís rarest butterflies, and a Species of Conservation Concern, has also been recorded at the site. 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 larva.
Muntjac deer, roe deer and squirrels are also present at Piddington Wood.
Piddington Wood is rare in that it is one of only few ancient woodlands in Oxfordshire that has not been replanted with conifers. Conservation management at this part of the site therefore involves allowing the site to continue to develop naturally. Dead wood is left standing where possible in order to provide important habitats for insects and invertebrates and natural regeneration of the woodland is allowed. On the land more recently acquired by the Woodland Trust to extend the woodland, replanting of native trees has been undertaken in order to aid biodiversity and enhance important habitats. The blackthorn at the site is carefully managed in order to extend areas where the black hairstreak lay their eggs, including extending the blackthorn into the newer native woodland.
Paths are maintained and occasionally widened in order to increase the amount of light that reaches them, particularly in areas that may become muddy. This is important since it enables public access and encourages people to stick to the paths rather than to damage the woodland floor.
Leave the M40 at Junction 9 and head towards Bicester on the A34. Then take the A41 towards Aylesbury, followed by the B4011 towards Blackthorn and Boarstall. Piddington Wood is on the right hand side of the road, shortly after Arncott. There is a small lay-by from which there is a footpath leading to the site.