The sight of thousands of purple and white chequered snake's-head fritillaries at these ancient wet meadows will take your breath away.
These wet meadows crossed by old river channels with willow-lined ditches have a rich diversity of wildlife typical of old, unspoilt meadow land. They were once a widespread feature of our river systems, but many have been lost to drainage and farming. In spring, the blooms of cuckooflower mark the start of a colourful sequence of wild flowers in the meadows. The orange-tip butterfly can be seen fluttering from flower to flower laying its eggs. Later, the yellow of buttercups and the reds and purples of great burnet and knapweed come to the fore.
Each April, Iffley Meadows plays host to a wonderful widlife spectacle where you can enjoy Oxfordshire's iconic flower, the snake's-head fritillary, in bloom in its natural surroundings. Before BBOWT took over management of the nature reserve in 1983, a mere 500 of these flowers could be found. As a result of BBOWT's careful management of the site and controlled grazing, numbers of fritillaries have shot up to over 89,000 - a huge success story.
Several species of dragonfly and damselfly patrol the vegetated ditches during the summer. Warblers can be heard chattering in the reeds - Cetti's warbler can be distinguised by its loud, 'explosive' song.
Snake's head fritillary count at Iffley Meadows
Watch BBOWT team perform snake's head fritillary count at the Iffley Meadows nature reserve.
Things to do
- See the snake's-head fritillaries in bloom in April
- 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 photographs of Iffley Meadows
Share your photographs of Iffley Meadows with us. Just add them to our BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'Iffley Meadows'.
April 2013: Listen to Gavin Bennet, Assistant Reserves Ecology Officer, as he visits Iffley Meadows to see the snake's-head fritillaries.