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Walker and Cyclists

Cyclists are welcome in Hodgemoor Wood on the bridlepaths and permissive horse trails. You can download a map of the wood showing these paths at http://www.hodgemoor.org.uk/downloads/map.pdf. These latter trails are those which have a made-up surface and marked with horseshoe signs. Cyclists are not permitted on other footpaths in the wood. Cyclists are kindly requested to give way to horse riders and to walkers.

We very much welcome non-riding members because the works we do on the trails and the whole of the amenity benefits all users.  We have had several walker and cyclist members since the early 2000s; the fee is negligible (£5 p.a. rising to £10 soon). This page is dedicated to cyclists and walkers to show routes through the wood and to enhance the experience with nature notes etc. Would you like to contribute? Email info@hodgemoor.org.uk

Buzz Bikes. Since 2013, Buzz Lane, a fully-insured mobile cycle mechanic and a qualified Level 2 British Cycling Coach, has been working in Hodgemoor Wood with young BMX cyclists, primarily providing training courses and mountain bike skills coaching at the weekend.  His organisation Bike Buzz www.bikebuzz.co.uk is now recognized by the Forestry Commission and the Hodgemoor Riding Association, and they have been developing the BMX jump site in the wood at the west end of Bottrells Lane, on the right (north) after Stockings Farm. You can download some more details of Bike Buzz here.

Or, would you like to be the web-author for walkers, nature lovers and other users of the wood? If yes, please volunteer. You can email us by clicking on the emailing info@hodgemoor.org.uk.

Hodgemoor Nature Notes

If you spot anything of note in Hodgemoor or you want to recommend a walking route please email us and tell us!

Muntjac Deer - Muntiacus Reevesi

Hodgemoor has a very healthy population of Muntjac deer and can be regularly seen crossing paths. But please do not let you dogs chase them!
The present day species are native to South Asia and can be found from Sri Lanka to southern China. Reeves Muntjac has been introduced to England, with wild deer descended from escapees from Woburn Safari Park around 1925. Muntjac have expanded very rapidly, and are now present in most English counties. It is anticipated that Muntjac may soon become the most numerous species of deer in England.

* Size - smallest of all UK deer, adults stand approximately 45cm at the shoulder and have an average weight range of between 10 - 16kg. The males (bucks) are marginally larger than the females (does).
* Identification tips - a Muntjac's small size is the primary factor in identification, and they often appear to be hunched forward when running. During the summer months a Muntjac's coat is a uniform reddy-brown colour with very pale, often white, hair under the chin, throat, belly and tail. The tail itself is a good identification aid, being noticeably longer than the tails of other British deer. Muntjac bucks have small and unbranched antlers which slope rearwards, ending in a pointed tip. They also have elongated canine teeth which can appear as small tusks protruding downwards from the upper lip.
* Diet - most forest foods will be eaten; fresh tree shoots, leaves, nuts, berries, acorns and fungi are all part of a Muntjac's diet. They will also strip bark from the bottom of trees. The deer typically feed at 3 - 4 hourly intervals, consuming fresh food quickly and then retreating into the undergrowth to chew the cud.
* Breeding - Muntjac deer can mate at any time of the year, there is no particular season as there is for the other British deer species. A single kid is produced 7 months after mating happens. Having given birth, the doe is in season again after a very short time and the kid is weaned after 6 - 8 weeks, and is totally independent of the mother by 6 months.

Tawny Owl

We were lucky enough to spot a Tawny Owl chick last year in Hodgemoor.
The Tawny Owl or Brown Owl (Strix aluco) is a stocky, medium-sized owl commonly found in woodlands across much of Eurasia. Its under parts are pale with dark streaks, and the upper parts are either brown or grey.The nest is typically in a tree hole where it can protect its eggs and young against potential predators. This owl is non-migratory and highly territorial. Many young birds starve if they cannot find a vacant territory once parental care ceases.
This nocturnal bird of prey hunts mainly rodents, usually by dropping from a perch to seize its prey, which it swallows whole; in more urban areas its diet includes a higher proportion of birds. Vision and hearing adaptations and silent flight aid its night hunting.
Although many people believe this owl has exceptional night vision, its retina is no more sensitive than a human's. Rather, it is its asymmetrically placed ears that are key to its hunting because they give the Tawny Owl excellent directional hearing. Its nocturnal habits and eerie, easily imitated call, have led to a mythical association of the Tawny with bad luck and death.

Common Buzzard (left) or Kite (right)?

Hodgemoor is fortunate to have both Buzzards and Kites and can be seen most days on walks. But which are which?
* The Common Buzzard lacks the forked tail, instead having a fanned tail.
* The Common Buzzard is rather compact with broad wings and a short neck, and is slightly smaller than the Red Kite. It can appear almost wholly cream / buff but is mostly brown with an obvious wing pattern looking from beneath. However, plumage varies enormously in Common Buzzards from very pale through to very dark.
* Generally, it also flaps its wings more, looking steady and purposeful in direct flight where the Red Kite glides more, with the occasional flap.
* To further complicate things, both birds will soar in wide circles high in the sky, the Common Buzzard on raised wings in a shallow ‘V’.
* The Red Kite is brightly patterned with long wings and makes relaxed, elegant, ‘elastic’ wing beats in direct flight with wings slightly angled / arched. It soars with wings bowed and not raised in a ‘V’. Its tail is long and deeply forked when closed and triangular with sharp outer corners, more pronounced in adults when spread. The tail appears pale looking from beneath and is constantly twisting in flight.

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