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Great nature reserves to visit in May

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Thursday 26th April 2018 by bbowtblog

Bluebell woods, Whitecross Green Wood and Moor CopseBluebells by Kate Dent, Whitecross Green Wood by Becky Woodell, River Pang by Helen Taylor

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 May.

Bluebells bloomed early this year but there are still some to enjoy, migrant birds have returned and more and more insect species are flying around. 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.

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

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


Bowdown Woods

Bowdown Woods

Why go now? The woodland at Bowdown Woods is awash with bluebells and greater stitchwort, and alive with the sound of birdsong. Listen out for great spotted woodpeckers drumming on the trees. Breathe in the scent of English bluebells covering the woodland floor, along with early-purple orchids, Solomon's seal and yellow pimpernel. The Bomb Site walk is mostly flat and surfaced, an ideal route for less mobile visitors to explore this nature reserve.

Explore the surrounding area on the Living Landscape Wild Walk One – a lovely varied walk that includes the Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham Reedbeds and Greenham Common as well as Bowdown Woods.

Moor Copse

Moor Copse

Why go now? Woodland and meadow flowers provide a colourful carpet to Moor Copse. There are spectacular displays of bluebells, dotted with early-purple orchids, in May. Look for the delicate blossom on wild cherries fluttering to the ground like confetti. On sunny days look for butterflies basking in the sun.

The 1-mile circular Wildlife Walk follows the River Pang through the woodland and ends through the meadows.


Bernwood Meadows

Bernwood Meadows

Why go now? Green-winged orchids flourish in their thousands at Bernwood Meadows. These orchids are now uncommon due to the widespread drainage of wet meadows but careful management here means a spetacular display each spring. They've had a slow start this year but should soon be at their best.

The ridge and furrow in these meadows support a variety of species, look for meadow buttercups on the drier ridges; damp-loving rushes and cuckooflower grow in the wetter furrows.

Whitecross Green Wood

Whitecross Green Wood

Why go now? The grassy rides through the woodland at Whitecross Green Wood are rich in wild flowers in spring. Look out for the grass vetchling, a rare member of the pea family that has a single bright pink flower. It flowers from May to July.

Old areas of coppice in the wood are filled with bluebells and primroses, and pungent wild garlic with its distinctive star-shaped flowers.




Why go now? Explore Foxholes on the circular Foxholes Wild Walk, which starts in nearby Shipton-under-Wychwood. The woodland is filled with bluebells, violets and early-purple orchids in spring.

Remember to look up too and look out for woodland birds such as nuthatches, treecreepers and great spotted woodpeckers which are filling the woodland with birdsong.  

Warburg Nature Reserve


Why go now? Discover Warburg Nature Reserve, a tranquil reserve nestled in the Chilterns on the circular Henley Wild Walk, alternatively why not walk to the reserve from nearby Maidensgrove or Nettlebed. 

There’s a Tramper mobility scooter available to hire, free of charge, from the interpretation centre. If you’d like to borrow this please contact us beforehand to arrange this – call 01491 642001 or email warburg@bbowt.org.uk

Children can borrow a Nature Detectives pack from the interpretation centre and discover the reserve's seasonal wildlife.

Things to do

  • Read our top 10 wildlife sightings for May, 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.

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