Thames Valley Park nature reserve includes over 80 acres of wetland habitat alongside the River Thames with great routes for cyclists and walkers, including the Thames Path. Many different groups make the most of this magical space, from model aircraft enthusiasts to running clubs.
The reserve has extensive areas of wildflower-rich grassland, several ponds surrounded by reed beds and a wide variety of native trees and shrubs. It’s home to a diverse range of wildlife, with almost 40 different species of birds. Reed warblers and reed buntings make their homes here in summer and winter visitors include bittern, water rails and ducks such as the shoveler and gadwall. Dragonflies and damselflies abound, with 18 species recorded, as well as the common toad and the harmless grass snake. Pontoons and other viewing areas offer visitors a privileged glimpse into this fascinating world.
Immediately to the north of these wetlands is the iconic River Thames and the Thames Path which is directly connected to the network of trails through the wetland area. Although very rarely seen, Otters have been recorded along this section of the Thames and freshwater mussels can be spotted amongst the gravel at the river’s edge.
To the west of the wetlands lies an extensive area of wildflower-rich floodplain grassland, which is alive with the sounds of grasshoppers and crickets in the summer, while the rare Skylark can be heard serenading walkers from on high with its unforgettable song. These meadows are cut for hay in late summer and are regularly under water in winter, as the river rises, bringing the nutrients that make this such a special place for wildlife.
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