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Thatcham Reedbeds

A great place for reedbed wildlife including a host of warblers and a variety of dragonflies and damselflies. Here you may also hear the nightingale and cuckoo.

Living Landscape

Cetti's warbler.

This reedbed forms part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape which covers more than 27km2 of lowland heathland, ancient woodland, reedbeds, rivers and streams.

Desmoulin's snail

An emblematic species for the site is the tiny and nationally rare Desmoulin's whorl snail which is thriving at the reserve. These minute snails are no bigger than 2 mm.

Reedbed wildlife

This is one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England and home to some rare reedbed specialists such as the scarce burnished brass moth.

They are also important for a number of breeding birds including Cetti's warbler, sedge and reed warblers. In among the reeds you can also look out for water rail and reed bunting. 

Over 14 species of dragonfly and damselfly have been seen in the reedbeds and at least six are thought to breed here. Look for migrant hawkers, emperor and four-spotted chaser dragonflies, as well as common blue, azure and red-eyed damselflies. 

The open water

Areas of open water on the reserve and on Thatcham Lake support good populations of wildfowl. Purpose-built tern rafts attract breeding common terns in the spring, and sand martins breed in the nesting bank on the island. Moorhen, coot, mallard and great crested grebe can be seen nesting on the lake margins or on the fishing lakes nearby. In winter flocks of tufted duck and pochard gather here along with shovelers.

Attracting breeding bittern

Over the next few years we aim to make the reserve more suitable for bittern to breed here rather than just visit. The improvements to the site will benefit many other species, such as breeding dragonflies and damselflies.

Things to do

Nearby nature reserves

The Nature Discovery Centre
0 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Bowdown Woods
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Greenham and Crookham Commons
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Reserve information

Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way
RG19 3FU
Map reference
SU 506 672
Great for...
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
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Opening Times
The Nature Reserve is open at all times but the main car park is subject to seasonal locking times.
Gift shop
Visitor centre
35.00 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
West Berkshire Living Landscape
Walking information
There are three waymarked routes from the Nature Discovery Centre, the longest route takes in the reed and fen areas of the reserve and the Kennet & Avon canal. Terrain is flat and routes are even but the reedbed route is more challenging than those around the lakes and can be wet in places. Safety first - railway crossing required.
Entrance to the reserve is via the Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, off Lower Way. Visitors wanting to access the site can choose to park at the Nature Discovery Centre or continue down Muddy Lane to a small reedbeds car park at the bottom. Please note the Nature Discovery Centre car park opens at 8am every morning and is subject to seasonal locking times. Please check the board at the entrance to the main car park for more information on your arrival.
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01635 35157

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.