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Tilehurst – 18 April 2018

Rob Stallard led a walk through some of the Tilehurst copses and parks on the hot, sunny morning of Wednesday 18 April, starting from Tilehurst Recreation Ground. The first stop was in an alleyway leading to the Recreation Road car park, where two spiky black and yellow caterpillars of the Scarlet Tiger moth were feeding on the leaves of Green Alkanet. The route continued across Blagrave Recreation Ground to Blundell’s Copse. Wood Anemones were at their peak and the first Bluebells were coming into flower. Other flowers included Wood Sorrel, Early Dog-violet, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Wavy Bittercress and Moschatel. A few clumps of Hairy Woodrush were in flower beside the path, a number of Scarlet Elf-cup fungi were spotted and Soft-Shield-fern and Hart’s-tongue Fern were identified. Newly-emerged Speckled Wood and Holly Blue butterflies were seen, together with Brimstone, Peacock and Comma butterflies which had over-wintered as adults. Turning over a stone in the stream which runs through the copse revealed a small grey freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex, an indicator of good water quality. In the north-east corner of the wood, there was a big patch of flowering Three-cornered Garlic. The walk continued along roads to Lousehill Copse, passing a patch of grass with the pink flowers of Common Stork’s-bill. The route led steeply down through the copse to a large pond at the bottom. Several Orange-tip butterflies were on the wing, and plant species added to the tally included Yellow Archangel, Wood Speedwell, Common Dog-violet, Brooklime, Gooseberry, Colt’s-foot and Woodruff. A Treecreeper, Jays and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen, and Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Stock Dove were heard. After crossing Norcot Road, the next part of the walk went through McIlroy Park. A number of old trackways lead through the park. On the banks of the entrance track were Greater Stitchwort and Bush Vetch and more Speckled Wood and Brimstone butterflies were seen here. The track along the west side of the park led through some big old Beech trees, with some large multi-stemmed specimens growing on the bank beside the track. After a short steep climb, the group emerged on the grassy area at the top, with splendid views down into Reading and across the Thames. The route led along the grassy top, past Wild Cherry trees covered in white blossom, and back into the woods at the north-west end of the park. A sunny stretch of woods here had the best display of Bluebells of the morning and a big black and orange Red-tailed Bumblebee queen was visiting the flowers. After a steep descent and a long climb, the next destination was Arthur Newbery Park. English Elm trees in the south-east corner of the park had flowered a few weeks previously and their green seed clusters were inspected. At the south-west corner of the park is an old thatched cottage, next to a spring which feeds a small stream, which soon vanishes as it drops down into drains near the boundary with the top of the Chalk. The walk continued back through allotments, with an unsuccessful hunt for Slow-worms under old carpet and in compost bins, before heading back to the Victoria pub for lunch.

Pictures by Rob Stallard, Sue White and Laurie Haseler

RDNHS Walk to West Reading Woods, Leader Rob Stallard, 20 people attending
English name Scientific name Comments
Blundells Copse SU671734
Plant species
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta Just starting to flower
Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna Flowering
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Flowering
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Flowering
Hairy Wood-rush Luzula pilosa Flowering
Enchanter’s-nightshade Circaea lutetiana Leaves
Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Flowering
Ivy-leaved Speeedwell Veronica hederifolia Flowering
Moschatel or Townhouse Clock Adoxa moschatellina Flowering
Early Dog-violet Viola reichenbachiana Flowering
Soft Shield-fern Polystichum setiferum
Hart’s-tongue Asplenium scolopendrium
Wood Forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica Flowering
Brooklime Veronica beccabunga Leaves
Wavy Bitter-cress Cardamine flexuosa Flowering
Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata Flowering
Three-cornered Leek Allium triquetrum Flowering
Species of Lepidoptera
Scarlet Tiger-moth Callimorpha dominula
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni
Peacock Aglais io
Comma Polygonia c-album
Bird species
Blackbird Turdus merula Singing
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos Singing
Nuthatch Sitta europaea Calling
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Singing
Fungus species
Scarlet Elf-cup Sarcoscypha coccinea On dead wood
Walk from Blundells Copse to Lousehill Copse SU6873
Sticky Mouse-ear Cerastium glomeratum Flowering
Common Field-speedwell Veronica persica Flowering
Shepherd’s-purse Capsella bursa-pastoris Flowering
Common Stork’s-bill Erodium cicutarium Flowering
Common Witlow-grass Erophila verna Flowering
Lousehill Copse SU681733
Plant species
Gooseberry Ribes uva-crispa Leaves
Red Currant Ribes rubrum Leaves
Brooklime Veronica beccabunga Leaves
Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon In bud
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Flowering
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta Flowering
Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna Flowering
Wood Speedwell Veronica montana Leaves
Woodruff Galium odoratum Leaves
Common Dog-violet Viola riviniana Flowering
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea Flowering
Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Flowering
Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris Flowering
Colt’s-foot Tussilago farfara Flowering
Insect species
Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines
Bee Fly Bombylius major
Bird Species
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita Singing
Nuthatch Sitta europaea Calling
Jay Garrulus glandarius On tree
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris On tree
Stock Dove Columba oenas Calling
Fungus species
King Alfred’s-steak Daldinia concentrica On dead wood
McIlroy Park SU678738
(lovely views)
Plant species
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea Flowering
Bush Vetch Vicia sepium Leaves
Raspberry Rubus idaeus Leaves
Lords-and-Ladies Arum maculatum In bud
Honesty Lunaria annua Flowering
Insect species
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
Orange tip Anthocharis cardamines
Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius queen
Bird species
Red Kite Milvus milvus Flying over
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla On tree and singing
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Singing
Arthur Newbery Park SU673744
Plant species
English Elm Ulmus procera In fruit
Gorse Ulex europaeus Flowering
Broom Cytisus scoparius Leaves
Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius Leaves
Insect species
Bee Fly Bombylius major

List by Renée Grayer