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Great nature reserves to visit in September

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Wednesday 30th August 2017 by bbowtblog

Devil's-bit scabious at Yoesden, Bucks. Photo by John MorrisDevil's-bit scabious at Yoesden, Bucks. Photo by John Morris

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 September. We love hearing about your visits to our reserves. Let us know what wildlife you see when you visit them. Share your photos of our reserves with us on Twitter and Facebook or upload them to our Flickr gallery.

Click on the photos to go to the reserve webpage for more information and how to get there.


Greenham Common

Crookham Common by Rob Appleby. Autumn lady's-tresses by Wendy Tobitt

Greenham and Crookham Commons on the southern edge Newbury forms the largest area of lowland heath in West Berkshire. From late summer to the end of September, when conditions are right, you may see thousands of autumn lady’s-tresses in the grassland at Greenham Common. This delicate plant is our latest flowering orchid with white, bell-shaped flowers arranged in a single spiral around the stem. It is probably the largest population on a single site in southern Britain. The best spot to see these beautiful snow-white flowers twirling around soft grey stems is on the short dry turf 100m east of the Control Tower car park. Tread carefully or you’ll squash them!

Join our guided walk on 3 September around the common to look for late summer flowers with local expert Peter Creed.

Inkpen Common

Inkpen Common by Peter Creed

Lying south-west of Newbury, this rare Berkshire heathland was once part of the old Inkpen Great Common where villagers had rights to graze livestock and collect firewood and gorse for feeding their ovens.

Today's nature reserve is split into two parts. The smaller south-western portion is now a small woodland of naturally regenerated oak and birch. The larger eastern part includes areas of heather and gorse, fringed by silver birch and oak, a small valley bog and a pond. Some parts can get very wet in winter. 

Explore the reserve and surrounding area with our Inkpen Wild Walk. Starting in Kintbury, this 17km circular walk takes in Inkpen Common and nearby Inkpen Crocus Field nature reserve, which is a must-visit reserve during the spring when thousands of crocuses bloom there.


Homefield Wood

Gentians. Photo by John Morris

Take a stroll through the chalk grassland at Homefield Wood to look for gentians that flower in late summer. Autumn gentians are the more common species, but you can also find Chiltern gentians, which as the name suggests only grows in the Chilterns. Find out how to tell the difference with our handy infographic.

Other reserves in the Chilterns where you can see gentians include Aston Clinton Ragpits, Dancersend and Yoesden in Bucks, and Chinnor Hill and Warburg Nature Reserve in Oxon. The two species can be tricky to tell apart without a hand lens and a ruler to measure specific features on each plant, and where the two species grow together they easily hybridise. So enjoy the sight, whichever the species you find!


Adonis blue. Photo by Colin Williams

Along with the gentians, you can enjoy the sight of a swathe of Devil's-bit scabious growing in the glade Yoesden at this time of year. Look out, too, for the second brood of Adonis blue butterflies. These electric blue butterflies breed twice each year and the adults should be flying again now.


Cholsey Marsh

Cholsey Marsh. Photo by Jim Asher

Take a walk along the Thames Path through Cholsey Marsh near Wallingford. This site comprises flood meadow and marsh, wet woodland and scrub with ponds. The marsh is home to wading birds, a mixed winter roost, reptiles, dragonflies and the highly protected Desmoulin’s whorl snail.

It’s a great site at this time of year with lovely views of the Thames and the chance of catching a glimpse of a passing kingfisher. Take a stroll at dusk to watch bats, including Daubenton's bats, as they swoop low over the river catching insects to eat. 

Dry Sandford Pit

Ivy bees at Dry Sandford Pit. Photo by Wendy Tobitt

Take time on our Cothill Fen Wild Walk to explore Dry Sandford Pit. The site has been created out of an old limestone quarry. A ring of sandy cliffs create a secluded spot where nature and geology are both on show. The cliff face reveals ancient fossils laid down during the era of the dinosaurs.

Now the cliff is used as a home by hundreds of solitary bees and wasps. The ivy bee, which was first spotted here in 2011, is now well established in south-facing banks. This remarkable mining bee, slightly smaller than a honeybee, was described as new to science in 1993 when it was identified in southern Europe. It was first sighted in Britain in September 2001 when it was found on the Dorset coast and has spread north since then. The foot of the cliff is carpeted with lichens, wild flowers and fungi.

Things to do

  • 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

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