Nature Discovery Centre
Please see below for updated opening times and notices about path closures.
Know before you go
Entry feeDonations to help support our work for local wildlife are welcome via our donation stations in the car park
Parking informationcar park
Colour-coded waymarked walking routes
Flat and level around the lake.
When to visit
Opening timesThe Nature Discovery Centre is now open Monday - Sunday, 10am-5pm. This includes the cafe (takeaway only), shop and outside toilets.
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
Due to staffing issues, the visitor centre will be closed on the following dates in October: Mon 04/Tue 05; Mon 11/Tue 12; Mon 18/Tue 19. The car parks and the rest of the site will be open as normal.
BBOWT will be carrying out some path improvement works around the Nature Discovery Centre lake between Tues 19 and Thurs 21 October. While the path around the lake will not be fully closed there will be machinery working in the area so please take extra care and be prepared for the possibility of a short delay to your walk.
The Nature Discovery Centre is surrounded by a mosaic of different habitats with fantastic wildlife to see all year around. Wander along the paths beside the lake, visit the internationally important Thatcham Reedbeds nature reserve or explore some of the nearby woodland. There is large network of footpaths, perfect for family days out or for the more adventurous.
During the autumn and winter, large groups of wintering wildfowl congregate on the lake, whilst the reedbeds and surrounding woodland and hedgerows host birds like fieldfare and redwing.
In spring and summer purpose-built rafts attract breeding common terns. House martins, swallows and swifts are a common sight over the lake and surroundings.
Throughout the year, one of our volunteers surveys the species of bird found on site. Below is a list showing the trend of different species and numbers of each throughout the year.
Our volunteer also leads regular walks around the reserve to help visitors learn about what they can see and hear during their visit and to learn more about each species.
In summer there are glorious displays of purple loosestrife, yellow-flag iris, reeds and sedges on the floating island, the lake shore and in the reedbeds.
All year around look out for the willow and alder around the edge of the lake, and hawthorn, blackthorn, spindle and bullace in the hedgerows.
A variety of moths and butterflies can be seen, including garden tiger, butterbur, waved black, holly blue, and gatekeeper. There are dragonflies and damselflies including beautiful and banded demoiselles, emperor and four-spotted chaser. A range of beetles such as bloody-nosed beetle and rhinoceros beetle have been recorded on site.
Visit the nearby Thatcham Reedbeds, one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in Southern England and home to some of the country's rarest reed specialists, including Desmoulin's snail.