This diverse woodland wildlife treasure trove astride the River Pang is a haven of peace and beauty, renowned for its flowers, butterflies and moths.
A place of great character
Large swathes of tranquil woodland surround a patchwork of meadows and pastures set in the heart of the Pang Valley in Berkshire. The River Pang meanders through the woodland providing a beautiful setting that is thought to have inspired EH Shepherd to illustrate The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
An Aladdin's Cave
The four areas of woods are floodplain woodlands that provide homes to many species that love moist ground, such as alder trees and clusters of yellow iris. Plentiful supplies of rotting wood lying in the damp attract a range of fungi, beetles and other insects.
Moor Copse is a wonderful reserve to visit all year round. In spring, woodland flowers and meadow flowers provide a colourful carpet whilst birds sing their hearts out.
In summer, butterflies are abundant, including the handsome silver-washed fritillary whose larvae feed on violets. Dragonflies and damselflies, such as the beautiful demoiselle and the brown hawker hunt up and down the river.
In autumn, the woodlands provide vibrant colour as the leaves gradually turn, and a diverse range of fungi, including deadman's fingers and green elfcup, push up from the leaf litter, or appear on dead wood.
As winter creeps in you may see a fox or stoat as they work hard to survive. Walks by the Pang and through the meadows are truly memorable when the landscape is encrusted with a sparkling winter frost.
Creating new grassland
In December 2006, with generous support from its members, BBOWT was able to purchase land adjoining Moor Copse, which doubled the size of the reserve. Supported by an active volunteer group, the Trust is restoring the area for wildlife.
The extension contained a field which the Trust has been transforming into a flower-rich grassland. Thousands of trees have been planted to link the existing woodland areas.
Other areas will be left or lightly grazed to form tussocky patches which attract small mammals such as mice and voles, which in turn provide vital food for predators such as the barn owl.
Encouraging water voles
Recently cleared trees from a stretch of Sulham Brook will encourage the nearby water vole population to colonise this part of the stream. The much-loved water vole is Britain's most endangered mammal because of predation by non-native mink.
Moor Copse is one of three of BBOWT’s most charismatic wildflower meadows which have been named Coronation Meadows. HRH Prince Charles, as patron of RSWT, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Plantlife, initiated the Coronation Meadows project in 2012/13. It celebrates the historic and extraordinary diversity of meadows, and encourages the creation of many more in the next 60 years through seeds and green hay from the Coronation sites.
Coronation Meadows represent a certain ethos; an attitude towards farming, rearing livestock and an appreciation of the value of farmland wildlife that has allowed these fragments of flower rich grassland to survive over the decades.
Chimney Meadows, Moor Copse and Upper Ray Meadows are prime examples of a Coronation Meadow because they are rich in a wealth of wild flowers. On each reserve there are meadows which have been regenerated using green hay from nearby land, a natural spread of species from field to field.
The meadows are managed carefully using traditional farming methods, sometimes with rare breed livestock for conservation grazing. Ancient hedgerows and tracks connect each meadow to the next these are just as important for wildlife as the meadows themselves. They help to create patchworks of habitats greater than their individual parts.
Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve
Rachel Paton: "In memory of my mother Ann, a long standing BBOWT member."
David Smith: "Thank you BBOWT for your invaluable work at the Moor Copse Reserve."
Things to do
- Volunteer with our regular work parties on the reserve.
- Try our circular Wildlife Walk (1 mile). Just follow the badger waymarkers.
- Look out for our seasonal guided walks.
- Help us manage this reserve by supporting us
- Tweet your wildlife sightings to @bbowt
- Sign up to our e-newsletter
Download the site risk assessment.
Your Moor Copse photographs
Share your Moor Copse photographs with us! Add them to the BBOWT flickr group, and tag them 'moorcopse'.
Species and habitats
- Meadow, Woodland
- Bluebell, Cuckooflower, Early Purple Orchid, Honeysuckle, Primrose, Purple-loosestrife, Spindle, Wild Cherry, Wood Anemone, Wood Spurge, Yellow Iris, Banded demoiselle, Brimstone, Brown hawker, Meadow Brown, Orange-tip, Ringlet, Silver-washed Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Common Carder Bee, Honey Bee, Red-tailed Bumblebee, White-tailed Bumblebee, Grass Snake, Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh tit, Mistle Thrush, Raven, Siskin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Tawny Owl, Water Rail, Badger, Red Fox