Great reserves to visit in December

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?

Ardley Wood Quarry, Oxon

Explore the geology and medieval earthworks as well as the wildlife at this nature reserve near Bicester.

The layered bare rock faces of the limestone quarry give a fascinating insight into the site's Jurassic past more than 160 million years ago.

Scrub, woodland and rough grassland make up the diverse array of habitats, along with several seasonal ponds. Listen out for birds in the woodland, and look out for the wide variety of mosses found here too.

Ardley Wood Quarry


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


View from Hartslock nature reserve over Goring Gap by Craig Howes (

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 starts in Goring before heading to the reserve and on through the surrounding countryside.


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. You might even spot a lapwing. There's a circular path around the water, making it perfect for a short stroll.

The paths can get muddy in winter so don't forget your wellies, but there are sections of boardwalk in places too.

Loddon Nature Reserve


Murmuration by Danny Green/2020VISION

Thatcham Reedbeds, Berks

Thatcham Reedbeds is one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England, which can be very atmospheric at this time of year. 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 nearby Nature Discovery Centre, perfect for a warming drink in the cafe before or after the walk. 

Thatcham Reedbeds

Thatcham Wild Walk

Short-eared owl

Upper Ray Meadows, Bucks

The Upper Ray Meadows nature reserve is a large expanse of floodplain meadows on the Bucks/Oxon border. The Gallows Bridge Farm area has two bird hides overlooking the scrapes and wet meadow.

During the winter months, look out for wigeon, teal, golden plover, snipe, fieldfare and short-eared owl.

Upper Ray Meadows


Wild Walks

Get out and explore the countryside this winter with our Wild Walks

Find one near you

Family walking at Warburg by Ric Mellis

Discover more about your local wildlife at one of our events


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