Idbury, lying as it does on the edge of the Cotswolds in a mixed landscape of fields, hedges, streams, gardens, and patches of ancient woodland, is a rich habitat for plants, animals and birds.
We are lucky to have the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to campaign to preserve and maintain this habitat; BBOWT, for instance, manages the Foxholes Nature Reserve, a patch of the old Wychwood Forest that stretches between Bould and Foscote, the two hamlets whose residents also attend the Idbury Parish Meeting.
Another local group concerned with the history and environment of this area is the Wychwood Project.
Two writers have turned a naturalist’s eye onto the Idbury landscape. The first was the classicist William Warde Fowler (1847-1921), who had a house in Kingham from 1873, and published Kingham Old and New: Studies in a Rural Parish in 1913. His chapters in this on ‘Birds Past and Present’ and ‘Some Flowering Plants of Kingham’ can be taken as applying to Idbury too, for Idbury was part of the landscape that Fowler walked for nearly 60 years, ever attentive to the bird and plant life.
In the chapter ‘A Midland Village: Garden and Meadow’ in his A Year with the Birds, Fowler writes, ‘We have within a radius of five or six miles almost every kind of country in which birds rejoice to live. We have water-meadow, cornland, woods, and hills, and also here and there a few acres of scrubby heath and gorse; and the only requisite we lack is a large sheet of water or marshy ground, which might attract the waders and sea-birds so commonly found near Oxford.’
The best of W. Warde Fowler’s nature writings have been edited by Gordon Ottewell as Warde Fowler’s Countryside: Impressions of a Victorian Naturalist (1985).
The second writer to paint a vivid picture of the natural history of Idbury and the surrounding countryside is David Green, who worked in Idbury for the Countryman in the 1930s, living for most of that time in a cottage in the hamlet of Bould. Green wrote about this time in the five chapters of the section ‘Upper Evenlode Country’ in his book Country Neighbours (1948).
David Green writes of Bould Wood:
I remember well in our wood the veined white flowers and shamrock leaves of a certain wood-sorrel cluster rooted among moss on a rotten oak-stump some four feet from the ground, the intrinsic beauty of flower and leaf intensified by nearness and by the strangeness of their position, which normally, or course, would be close to the ground. The delicacy of the flowers, the freshness of the leaves and the neat compactness of the whole casual ‘arrangement’ were altogether delightful, so that the bramble patch beside which they grew became for us a place to be visited often, not only for its white admirals and fritillaries, but also for the common wood-sorrel which year after year ‘corsaged’ that dead tree.
The work of both these writers is well worth exploring, and the paths they trod and the hidden places they discovered are still waiting unspoilt for those who care to look for them.
BIRDS IN IDBURY
An ornamental bird bath in Idbury churchyard is inscribed in memory of Elspet Keith Robertson Scott, remembering her as a ‘lover of birds’. Being in the heart of the country, with rich agricultural land, ancient hedges and woodland, and welcoming gardens with trees, hedges, and ponds, Idbury is an ideal spot for bird-lovers.
Below is a far from exhaustive list of birds seen or heard in Idbury over the course of an average year, roughly grouped.
Great spotted woodpecker
Not to forget Cyril the peacock….
WILD ANIMALS IN IDBURY
A comprehensive guide to the fauna of West Oxfordshire is beyond the scope of this site, but here is a list of the wild animals you are likely to see in Idbury over the course of a year:
Common long-eared bat
© 2008 Idbury. All rights reserved