March 2024

(This is the first WWV Newsletter – the intention is for the newsletter to be produced after each WWV committee meeting (every two months) to update members on items discussed, as well as providing information about on-going WWV work and items of interest.)

WWV Committee Meeting Update (14/03/2024)

• Nature trail installed within DPW and DPW South
• New seat located within DPW South overlooking the dip
• Following a recent training day, we now have three newly-qualified First Aiders
• Inventory of WWV tools to be undertaken
• A new approach to welcoming prospective members to be considered
• Welcome to three new members

Deer Park Wood (DPW) Update

The Southern and Scottish Electricity contractors have, at long last, finished their work under the wires within DPW. They cut the trees under the high voltage cables every few years to avoid any contact. This has unfortunately not been done for some time, and the results are pretty drastic.

There are now numerous piles of chippings to move and some brash still to cut up into habitat piles. Clearing up after the contractors has certainly kept us busy over the last few months, and the cutting down of trees has changed the feel of the east side of DPW considerably.

We have, however, been able to utilise the wood chippings by spreading them on the paths, and this has also allowed us to create many more wood and habitat piles. A quick count indicates that in excess of 500 trees have been cut down to a level of three feet or so by the contractors – certainly the most severe cut we think we have ever seen. Hopefully in a year or two the growth from the low stumps will provide a lovely green cover to act as a barrier between the wood and the road.

Spring is now well on its way and aconites have been and gone, we have seen a lovely display of snowdrops within DPW at all the entrances to the woodland walk and now a few daffodils and crocuses have appeared.

The wood is still extremely wet due to the heavy rain, so the central grass area has not seen much use. We have, however, spotted a whole array of fungi appearing throughout the wood which has kept us busy trying to identify the various different varieties spotted by our volunteers – see below.


our regular visitors are still appearing despite the cutting back we have seen on both the east and west side. We have our muntjac doe, who has only one eye and no tail: she has been with us now for some years; a new muntjac doe (who we think is pregnant and possibly the youngster of the one-eyed doe), and a muntjac buck, who has a missing hoof and who has been sighted around the wood for at least the last couple of years. They seem to be all together as a family, and we will wait and see if a fawn appears in the near future. We have also seen a fox, which is almost certainly one of the three cubs that we saw last year – and we have had our yearly visit from a badger, who wandered through the feeding area in February.

(You can explore our resources page which has links to monthly databases of flowering plants and bird/mammal sightings.)


At the end of February, there were numerous examples of Scarlet Elf Cup visible beside the east path along the Deer Park Rd side of the wood. They appear between December and April but as of a few days later, they all seem to have disappeared!

According to Galloway Wild Foods’ website, they are edible and sought after, so maybe a local forager has gathered them. They are a striking colour which makes them very visible – too visible for their own good! Elf cups are ascomycetes, which means that they shoot their spores into the air. They typically appear in humus rich, damp, deciduous woods with plenty of fallen wood, preferring moss covered sycamore, willows, beech and hazel.

…and another species:

…which was initially though to be Crepidotus variabilis:

…but with further enquiries we are now assuming is Crepidotus cesatii – (Roundspored oysterling). This excellent website shows in more detail:

DPW South

– has seen a new substantial path constructed, giving good access from the bridleway.

Very recently a new seat has been installed at the end of the path, giving a good view over the dip for bird watching and, of course, somewhere to have a rest.

A nature trail in both woods has also been created. This was all undertaken by contractors on behalf of WODC and WWV. We will be adding more information about the development of DPWSouth this spring.

Nesting boxes

We completed the annual survey of our bird boxes: their condition was checked and any old nests removed ready for the new occupants to take up residence.

On the west side we have 34 boxes, of which 13 are old wooden ones and 21 are RSPB Woodcrete boxes. A total of 29 were opened: 13 had old nests, which indicates a 45% occupancy during the last nesting season. One contained a clutch of 8 abandoned eggs and another the sad sight of the skeletal remains of 4 chicks. Who knows what may have happened to the parents which cut short the lives of their chicks…

Two of these boxes were already being visited by blue tits so we left them undisturbed.

On the east (Deer Park Road) side, the story was quite different. Here we have 19 boxes of which 7 are wood and 12 Woodcrete. A total of 18 were checked, and 14 were found to have been used: a surprising 78% occupancy. This side of the wood is close to the noise of Deer Park Road traffic and, being a much narrower strip of woodland subject to the over-exuberant clearing of trees under the adjacent power line, is far more visually open to the road. Despite that, it would seem to be more attractive to nesting birds.

Our Woodcrete boxes all have 32mm entry holes, reinforced against the best efforts of squirrels and predatory birds. This size is suitable for tits, sparrows, redstarts and nuthatches: only the first two species have been seen in the wood. The nests are often built from moss with the occasional addition of some brightly coloured fabric, probably scavenged from balls lost by dog walkers.

Other WWV Activity

This year WWV have also been busy collecting litter from across Witney as this is the best time to do so, before the vegetation grows up and hides the rubbish until next winter. We have visited the Witney hospital path, Marriotts car park and all areas around the hospital, Loom Lane, the old Bathing Place and surrounding areas and of course in and around DPW and DPW South, including the bridleway. Around fifty large bags of rubbish were collected in all along with four shopping trolleys, pipes, and numerous other items that people didn’t want, so well done to all involved – but of course it’s such a shame that people drop so much litter…