Great reserves to visit in December

Tufted ducks by Margaret Holland

With nearly 90 nature reserves to choose from in our three counties, which are the best to visit this month?
Wigeon

Wigeon by David Tipling/2020VISION

Foxcote Reservoir, Bucks

Enjoy watching the comings and goings of migrating wildfowl in this quiet corner of Buckinghamshire.

On a cold winter's day the expanse of open water is likely to hold rafts of wigeon (above), coot and tufted ducks. These are joined by smaller numbers of goldeneye, goosander, teal, shoveler and occasionally pintail, striking visitors from further afield.

Foxcote Reservoir

Hartslock

View from Hartslock nature reserve over Goring Gap by Craig Howes (craighowesphotography.co.uk)

Hartslock, Oxon

Stroll along the River Thames from Goring-on-Thames to reach Hartslock nature reserve. The magnificent views from the reserve stretch out over Goring Gap and the winding River Thames.

Explore the area further with our circular Wild Walk, which start in Goring before heading to the reserve and on through the surrounding countryside.

Hartslock

Hartslock Wild Walk

Tufted ducks

Tufted ducks by Margaret Holland

Loddon Nature Reserve, Berks

Just outside Twyford, beside the River Loddon, this flooded gravel pit dotted with islands and surrounded by scrub, is the perfect place to watch water birds.

In winter the resident birds are joined by visitors including shoveler, wigeon, pochard and tufted ducks. There's a circular path around the water, making it perfect for a short stroll.

The paths can get muddy in winter so wear wellies, but there are sections of boardwalk in places too.

Loddon Nature Reserve

Raleigh Park

View from Raleigh Park by Andy Gunn

Raleigh Park, Oxon

Raleigh Park is one of the sites managed by BBOWT's Wild Oxford project. Just off the busy ring road between Botley and North Hinksey, there are spectacular views stretching out over Oxford city centre.

Limestone grassland, calcareous fen and scrub make the site ideal for spotting a huge variety of birds. A stream and series of ponds make Raleigh Park an ideal place to explore wetlands.

Raleigh Park and Wild Oxford

Murmuration

Murmuration by Danny Green/2020VISION

Thatcham Reedbeds, Berks

Thatcham Reedbeds is one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England. During the winter you can often see mini murmurations of starlings as they gather to roost in the reedbeds.

Large flocks of tufted ducks and pochard also gather here along with shovelers.

Explore the reedbeds and nearby Bowdown Woods and Greenham Common on our Wild Walk that starts at the Nature Discovery Centre.

Thatcham Reedbeds

Thatcham Wild Walk

Shovelers

Shovelers by Nick Upton/2020VISION/naturepl.com

Weston Turville Reservoir, Bucks

Weston Turville Reservoir is a good place to observe winter wildfowl such as teal, shoveler (above) and tufted duck. You may even catch a glimpse of a bittern hiding in the reeds if you are lucky! Head to the bird hide for a peaceful spot to observe the birdlife.

The reserve is not far from Bacombe Hill, an ancient chalk grassland w ith extensive views over Aylesbury Vale, and Dancersend, a tranquil haven with a rich variety of wildlife. Both of these reserves make great places for a wintery walk.

Weston Turville Reservoir

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