Please note: there is no longer a bird hide at Thatcham Reedbeds.
Know before you go
Parking informationEntrance to the reserve is via the Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, off Lower Way. You can park at the main Centre car park (please note seasonal closing times) or continue down Muddy Lane to a small reedbeds car park at the bottom.
There are three waymarked routes from the Nature Discovery Centre, the longest route takes in the reed and fen areas of the reserve and the Kennet & Avon canal.
Terrain is flat and routes are even but the reedbed route is more challenging than those around the lakes and can be wet in places. Safety first - railway crossing required.
When to visit
Opening timesThe Nature Reserve is open at all times but the main car park is subject to seasonal locking times.
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
This reedbed forms part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape which covers more than 27 square kilometres of lowland heathland, ancient woodland, reedbeds, rivers and streams.
An emblematic species for the site is the tiny and nationally rare Desmoulin's whorl snail which is thriving at the reserve. These minute snails are no bigger than 2 mm.
This is one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England and home to some rare reedbed specialists such as the scarce burnished brass moth. They are also important for a number of breeding birds including Cetti's warbler, sedge and reed warblers. In among the reeds you can also look out for water rail and reed bunting. Over 14 species of dragonfly and damselfly have been seen in the reedbeds and at least six are thought to breed here. Look for migrant hawkers, emperor and four-spotted chaser dragonflies, as well as common blue, azure and red-eyed damselflies.
The open water
Areas of open water on the reserve and on Thatcham Lake support good populations of wildfowl. Purpose-built tern rafts attract breeding common terns in the spring, and sand martins breed in the nesting bank on the island. Moorhen, coot, mallard and great crested grebe can be seen nesting on the lake margins or on the fishing lakes nearby. In winter flocks of tufted duck and pochard gather here along with shovelers.
Attracting breeding bittern
Over the next few years we aim to make the reserve more suitable for bittern to breed here rather than just visit. The improvements to the site will benefit many other species, such as breeding dragonflies and damselflies.
Things to do
Explore part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape on Wild Walk One. This 6-mile circular walk passes through Thatcham Reedbeds. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the area of this walk. Try our other Wild Walks. Visit the Nature Discovery Centre.
Thatcham Reedbeds are managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust on behalf of West Berkshire Council.