Here you will see some of the best displays of dragonflies and damselflies in Berkshire, including the downy emerald dragonfly and the rare small red damselfly, as well as wild flowers and birds.

Location

9 miles south-west of Reading
From Silchester, take road west towards Aldermaston for 1.5 miles to reserve entrance on left, opposite Allport factory (Valentine Wood Industrial Estate).
Berkshire
RG7 2PF

OS Map Reference

SU 613 634
A static map of Decoy Heath

Know before you go

Size
8 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

Surfaced car park - there is a combination lock on the gate, please call (01635) 35157 to arrange vehicular access

Grazing animals

Yes

Access

Waterlogged patches in winter; sloping; rutted paths; kissing gates

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

Dragonflies galore
Decoy Heath is one of the best sites for dragonflies and damselflies in Berkshire. No fewer than 23 species have been known to breed around its shallow pools. They include the keeled skimmer, white-legged damselfly, emerald damselfly and the small red damselfly with its bright red legs. This scarlet species prefers shallow, unshaded streams and bog pools with overlaying bog-moss mats. By creating new pools, the Trust has significantly expanded the available habitat for these delightful insects.

Fascinating bogland
Insects are attracted to flowers at the margins of the pools. Lesser skullcap, bog pimpernel and marsh violet are three of the more uncommon flowers that favour these boggy conditions. Rushes and sedges provide cover for nesting moorhens.

Heathland rarity
An important population of adders is present on site and doing well, thanks to habitat management by the Trust to create special basking platforms and protect hibernacula. Adders are very vulnerable to disturbance so please don't lift the tins; instead go quietly and you may well come across one basking in the open. Many uncommon mosses and liverworts inhabit the wet heath, while the drier areas favour grey and red lichens. Honeysuckle, foxglove and primrose can be found here. More than 80 species of birds have been recorded at Decoy Heath. Some years scarce ground-nesting birds including nightjar and woodlark make their homes here.

 

Contact us

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Contact number: 01628 829574
Contact email: info@bbowt.org.uk

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)