A wildlife expanse with nationally acclaimed wetland meadows
From 21 September for two weeks the Great Brook Road is closed for maintenance. Access to Chimney Meadows nature reserve during this time is via Bampton. An ancient landscape and a vital refuge for wading birds, Chimney Meadows is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust's largest nature reserve in Oxfordshire.
Restoring a wildlife haven
Once in the grip of intensive farming, the rich wildlife of this remote and tranquil place has been restored since the Trust started looking after it in 2003. Fields once planted with wheat and barley are now colourful, species-rich wild-flower meadows. Once heavily grazed pastures are now nationally-important wetlands and home to wading birds. This type of habitat is important for its remarkable diversity of plant-life and as a home to nationally declining wading birds such as curlew, which breed here.
In spring and summer these grasslands are transformed by an ever-changing display of wild flowers that attract busy communities of insects. In April and early May cowslips are in flower, whilst in June and July, plants such as yellow rattle, common knapweed, oxeye daisy and pepper-saxifrage can be found in abundance.
Wonderful wetland vista
The large hide overlooking our wetland area provides views of feeding cormorant, little egret and kingfisher. At the smaller hide, which overlooks our northern pond, you can see little grebe, jay and long-tailed tit.
A Living Landscape
Chimney Meadows is our largest nature reserve and its fields are part of an ancient landscape, created by the Thames and shaped by centuries of farming. It forms part of the Upper Thames Living Landscape, a Willdife Trust project to create space for wildlife and people together.
Chimney Meadows is one of three of BBOWT’s most charismatic wildflower meadows that have been named Coronation Meadows. HRH Prince Charles, as patron of RSWT, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Plantlife, initiated the Coronation Meadows project. It celebrates the historic and extraordinary diversity of meadows, and encourages the creation of many more in the next 60 years through seeds and green hay from the Coronation sites.
Coronation Meadows represent a certain ethos; an attitude towards farming, rearing livestock and an appreciation of the value of farmland wildlife that has allowed these fragments of flower rich grassland to survive over the decades. Chimney Meadows, Moor Copse and Upper Ray Meadows are prime examples of a Coronation Meadow because they are rich in a wealth of wild flowers. On each reserve there are meadows which have been regenerated using green hay from nearby land, a natural spread of species from field to field.
The meadows are managed carefully using traditional farming methods, sometimes with rare breed livestock for conservation grazing. Ancient hedgerows and tracks connect each meadow to the next these are just as important for wildlife as the meadows themselves. They help to create patchworks of habitats greater than their individual parts.
Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve
Jackie and Eric Lewis-Leaning
- Come along to one of our seasonal guided walks for all ages and interests.
- There are two bird hides for bird watching, both with wheelchair access.
- Volunteer! We run regular work parties on the reserve.
- Help us manage this reserve by supporting us
- Tweet your wildlife sightings to @bbowt
- Sign up to our e-newsletter
Download the site risk assessment.
Your Chimney Meadows photographs
Share your photographs of Chimney Meadows with us! Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group, and tag them with 'chimneymeadows'.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Meadow, Wetland
- Adder's-tongue Fern, Marsh-marigold, Cowslip, Quaking-grass, Yellow-rattle, Club-tailed Dragonfly, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Orange-tip, Barn Owl, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Curlew, Fieldfare, Greenfinch, Green Sandpiper, Goldfinch, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little Owl, Meadow Pipit, Mute Swan, Sedge Warbler, Short-eared Owl, Skylark, Snipe, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Redwing, Whitethroat, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Yellowhammer, Badger, Brown Hare, Otter