Know before you go
Parking informationTake A413 north from Buckingham, after 1 mile take right turn on to Main Street in Maids Moreton. Continue until T junction and turn left on to Foscote Road, after 1 mile you reach the reserve entrance on left. Park in lay-by on right opposite gates
Gentle slope. Wheelchair access possible in dry weather.
Swimming is not permitted.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen all year
Best time to visitDecember - August
About the reserve
Lying in a rolling Buckinghamshire landscape of arable fields, pasture and woodland, Foxcote Reservoir is the kind of place that rewards patient visitors. Created in 1956 by damming a small tributary of the River Great Ouse, this site has become important for the numbers of wintering waterfowl, especially wigeon and coot.
On a cold winter's day the expanse of open water is likely to hold rafts of wigeon, coot and tufted ducks (it is the male tufted duck that has the bold black and white plumage). These are joined by smaller numbers of goldeneye, goosander, teal, shoveler and occasionally pintail, striking visitors from further afield.
Out on the open water great crested grebes may be performing their spring courtship. This involves head-shaking, diving, fluffing out their plumage in the so-called 'cat' display and presenting each other with water plants as they rise from the water breast-to-breast. in the 19th century the fashion for ladies' grebe-feather hats meant that the birds were almost lost to Britain forever; but protection has allowed strong populations to establish.
At the water's edge
Thanks to careful management this healthy reservoir is teeming with aquatic plants and insects. In the summer months the reedy margins are alive with reed buntings and reed warblers which build their nests deep within the reeds.Clinging to swaying reeds, the reed bunting delivers its chirruping song, a simple 'cheep-cheep-cheep-chizzup', before flying jerkily to another clump of reeds. The reed warbler has an attractive, varied song - a continuous and hurried series of notes, some chattering, some musical. Both species feast upon the abundant insects such as craneflies, midges, beetles and dragonflies, flitting across the water. As the summer sun warms the shallows a host of damselflies and dragonflies emerge. Common blue damselflies, tiny bars of electric blue, are particularly noticeable.
A peaceful place
Large numbers of birds come to this reserve because it is beautifully quiet. Any loud noises or sudden movements will disturb the birds, disrupting feeding. The bird hide, which offers a raised view over the reedbeds to the water, is reached by a gentle sloping path and a wooden boardwalk.