A lovely mix of chalk stream, woodland and chalk grassland creates a tranquil haven for wildlife and local people.
Community nature reserve
The Letcombe brook is a rare habitat - there are only two chalk streams in the whole of Oxfordshire and only 161 UK-wide. The clear waters are home to unusual and interesting wildlife including water vole and fish such as bullhead, brown trout and brook lamprey.
The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust works with volunteers living nearby to care for this precious habitat, where kingfishers hunt across the water flashing blue as their sharp call pierces the stillness of the valley. Streamside, heron and little egret can be seen prowling the shallows for a tasty fish morsel.
At dusk, Daubenton’s bats swoop low across the lake gorging on insects at the water’s surface. Numerous springs create flushes along the streams and these habitats support an interesting range of insects, particularly rare and specialist flies.
Variety of life
Small remnants of ancient woodland include old coppice stools around which wild flowers, such as bluebell, wood millet, common dog-violet, herb-Bennet, grow. Running along the eastern edge of the reserve is a steep bank with a flat top (the Old Bassett Road) where fragments of chalk grassland remain among the scrub.
Large ant hills survive among common bird’s-foot trefoil, field scabious, twayblade, cowslips and meadow grasses. Barn owls hunt for small mammals in this area.
The Wildlife Trust recently carried out work on horse chestnut trees by the lake which were infected with Phytophthora, a destructive parasitic fungus that causes bleeding canker and kills the trees. Wood from the trees is being used on site to create habitat for insects, small mammals and amphibians. New trees will be planted at a community event.
Things to do
- Follow the self-guided nature trail
- We regularly run work parties at this reserve
- Come to the regular events held here, such as bird and bat watching, moth trapping and wildlife discovery days
- 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.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Wetland, Woodland
- Dog-violet, Water Crowfoot, Cowslip, Twayblade, Water Crowfoot, Water Figwort, Water Mint, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Brown Trout, Bullhead, Cuckoo, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Moorhen, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Treecreeper, River Lamprey, Daubenton's bat, Water Vole