At the North end of East Hagbourne, close to the border with Didcot, is a small piece of land known as Butts Piece. The land is owned by the Hagbourne Parish Charities, ostensibly for the benefit of the poor of the parish; at one time there were allotments here, but in recent years the lack of a water supply meant that it fell out of use, and became overgrown. In 2010 a new water supply was established and half of the piece reinstated as allotments, with a further quarter – previously unmown scrubland – to be used as a general amenity open area. I have seen common blue butterflies, meadow and field grasshoppers here. Along the eastern fringe of this area are the comfrey plants where I have found large numbers of scarlet tiger moths (plus the odd large skipper, several species of beetle and ladybird)
The northernmost patch – a few hundred square metres, largely covered by hawthorn and blackthorn (probably the remnants of an Enclosure hedgerow) and bramble – is a little-known but valuable habitat for a wide variety of woodland bird and insect species including yellowhammers, willow warblers, chiffchaffs, linnets, gold- and green-finches, blue, great and long-tailed tits, and the occasional woodpecker, along with magpies, wood-pigeons, chaffinches; ringlet, large skipper and marbled white butterflies, and a few mammals (muntjac deer, rabbits…)
In 2010 the Parish Council agreed that the local Environment Group could improve this area to combine wildlife habitat with public access, some coppiced land and fruit trees. While this work has been under way in the winter of 2010/11, large numbers of redwing and a few fieldfares have visited to feed on the haws and sloes.
I’ll be visiting regularly to see what other species turn up as Butts Piece (I hope) becomes recognised as a significant part of the area’s precious wildlife habitat – I shall use a Butts Piece category so you can find related posts easily – and here’s a spreadsheet listing species identified there (with links to species info and photos):
Species at Butts Piece (updated Mar 2015)
Click on the Scarlet Tiger Moth to go to the Flickr set of photos from Butts Piece.