Posted: Thursday 30th March 2017 by bbowtblog
Warburg nature reserve in spring. Photo by Steve Mendham
With nearly 90 nature reserves to choose from in our three counties, which are the best to visit this month?
Here are our top reserves in Berks, Bucks and Oxon to visit during April - insects are stirring, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. Why not make a day of it and take one of our Wild Walks to explore our reserves and the surrounding countryside. Or come along to a guided walk at some of the reserves and learn more about the wildlife and our work.
Click on the photos below to go to the reserve webpage for more information and how to get there.
Why go now? There are many paths and trails around Greenham Common to explore this huge site. Look for reptiles, such as common lizards, and butterflies basking in the warm spring sunshine. Listen out for skylarks and woodlarks singing away to attract a mate. Enjoy the sight of spring flowers including the yellows of cowslips and gorse. Did you know gorse flowers smell like coconut.
Please remember that Greenham Common is an important site for ground-nesting birds at this time of year. If you're walking a dog here please keep to the marked dog-friendly areas so you don't disturb the birds. Have a chat with our wardens if you've got any questions about this.
There is also a selection of waymarked trails to explore the common further, including a circular, paved path from the car park. Look for reptiles, such as grass snakes, and butterflies basking in the warm spring sunshine. The woodland is full of spring birdsong, and you may see Dartford warblers and stonechats perched on the top of bushes in the heathland.
Why go now? Stroll around Finemere Wood and enjoy the sound of spring birdsong and sight of the woodland flowers. The woodland rides are edged with primroses, and bluebells will be blooming later in the month along with early-purple orchids.
Read more about how we manage this nature reserve with Charlotte Karmali's blogs about the volunteer group there.
Why go now? Look out for spring flowers in the old 'ridge and furrow' meadows at Pilch Field. and listen out for warblers singing away in the hedgerows.
Join our guided walk here on 17 April to enjoy the fantastic display of spring flowers, which includes cowslips and green-winged orchids. You may see green woodpeckers on the anthills and, if you're lucky, hare or yellowhammer.
Why go now? Cowslips and curlews! The meadows at Chimney Meadows are managed for wildlife. It can be hard to believe that some were once arable fields before BBOWT bought them and transformed them into species-rich wildflower meadows. Wild flowers fill the meadows from spring onwards. Cowslips are at their best from late April, though some have started to bloom already.
In spring, listen out for the bubbling call of curlews. They're easily recognised by their long, down-curved bill, which they use to probe in the soil for earthworms and other insects. There are a couple of accessible bird hides and the raised Thames Path gives views out over the National Nature Reserve area.
Why go now? Thousands of snake's-head fritillaries bloom at Iffley Meadows in April, they should be at their best from Easter onwards this year.
These wet meadows, crossed by old river channels with willow-lined ditches, have a rich diversity of wildlife typical of old, unspoilt meadow land. The snake's-head fritillaries are joined by other wild flowers including cowslips and cuckooflower. Look out for orange-tip butterfly fluttering from flower to flower laying its eggs on the cuckooflowers.
Join us at the reserve on 23 April to find out more about how we manage the site for wild flowers and other wildlife.
Things to do
- Read our top 10 wildlife sightings for April, how many will you see before the month is out?
- Find a nature reserve near you with the Wildilfe Trusts' Nature Finder app for iphone and Android
- Share your photos of our reserves with us on Twitter and Facebook or upload them to our Flickr gallery
- Oxfordshire photographer Andrew Marshall's book Photographing wildlife in the UK (published by Fotovue) includes advice on how to take great wildlife photographs. The book includes top locations for photographing wildlife and some images that were taken on BBOWT nature reserves (Greenham Common, Chimney Meadows, Foxholes and College Lake).
- Our experts work with over 1,400 volunteers to look after over 80 nature reserves, five education centres and run hundreds of amazing events. We rely on the generosity of individuals, charitable trusts and businesses. Help us look after these precious places for your local wildlife by donating today.
- Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with wildlife news.
- Help BBOWT to maintain these precious havens for wildlife by becoming a volunteer.