With the meteorologists telling us spring had arrived it was good to see evidence of it in our most recent visit to the Copse. Lovely blue skies and sunshine provided the perfect backdrop for Hazel catkins.
Hazel is abundant, previously being coppiced. Records from 1852 (see below), as well as 1870 and 1877 show that the coppiced wood (underwood) was a valuable commodity offered for auction. The coppiced stands are now grown tall again.
We have measured the girth of some of our largest Oaks. One appears to date from 1885 and may be even older. In 1885 the Statue of Liberty arrived by boat in NYC, Queen Victoria was on the throne, with William Gladstone and then Robert Cecil as Prime Ministers; women were permitted to take the University of Oxford entrance exam for the first time; and professional football was legalised. All of this, and more, as our Oak was just starting life!
Meanwhile, this 137-year-old tree, and all our other Oaks, have been providing a habitat for a myriad of life. Some 1,178 invertebrates use the Oak, 257 of those relying solely on the tree. Some 108 species of fungi, 100 different moths and 700 different lichens also call this tree home (John Lewis-Stempel, Countrylife: 10th March 2023).
Down at ground level beneath the Oaks, and other trees, are intriguing holes and places of shelter. Amongst the leaf litter signs of spring are racing ahead. Arum lilies, Stinging Nettles (already vicious to the unwary), and Dog’s Mercury - an indicator plant of old woodland are all showing well.
The small meadow at the heart of the copse was looking especially lovely, with its clumps of tussocky grass and a healthy surround of protective brambles. Providing cover, food and nesting opportunities for birds, mammals and insects, we won’t be removing the bramble and may plant just a couple of small native trees in its midst, by way of increasing biodiversity. More about that later in the year.
Fundraising to secure this magical place
We are fundraising to support our considerable investment in this magical copse. We are working on ways to safely offer our supporters sight of its wildness and develop volunteering opportunities later in the year.
Can you help us?
Might you be able to fundraise for us and with us? Do you work for a company that supports charities? Are you a marathon runner who could raise money for us? Could you help produce fundraising material?
Any ideas ? Please let us know at: OBG@oxonbadgergroup.org.uk