Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
About Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve
Formerly pasture land, these fields were quarried for sand and gravel by Hanson between 2007 and 2014. Once quarrying ceased, the site was redeveloped with 2km of footpaths, bridges and boardwalks and three bird watching hides installed, giving great views across this new landscape and its rich wildlife, with information boards explaining how the site was created. The nature reserve was finally opened to the public in August 2016 and has already gained a reputation as one of the best sites for bird watching and natural history in Buckinghamshire.
The site is designed to quickly fill up with floodwater when the River Great Ouse floods. A number of spillways throughout the park bring floodwater in at the west end and this then flows through the system, eventually running out of spillways downstream. This means that at times of high water parts of the nature reserve are not accessible – but typically the water drains away within a couple of days. (If you are visiting during periods of high rainfall, please check the water levels before you set off). This dynamic water system makes the site even more appealing to wildlife as the wet/dry margins of the lakes attract a great variety of wetland birds in winter and invertebrates in the spring and summer.
In winter, a great variety of wildfowl assembles on the two main lakes with species including Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard as well as less common species like Goosander and Pintail. In spring and early summer a variety of wading birds visit the site on migration with a few such as Lapwings and Redshank staying to nest. Other notable birds include Cuckoo and several species of Owl.
What to look out for:
- Little Egrets and Grey Herons fishing throughout the year
- Breeding wader birds in the spring and early summer
- Colourful damselflies and dragonflies on sunny summer days
- Basking and swimming Grass Snakes from the spring through to the autumn
- Wintering ducks from late summer through to spring
- Bats at dusk on warm summer evenings
- Hunting Barn Owls and Little Owls
- Secretive otters, if you're very lucky, all year round!
A team of Volunteer Rangers patrol the park and are happy to answer questions you may have. As the site is very sensitive and home to many nesting birds and other secretive wildlife, please ensure that dogs are kept on a lead whilst walking through the nature reserve. For most of the year, wild Konik ponies and cattle graze the lake margins and islands and should be watched from a safe distance.
Please dress appropriately when visiting our Nature Reserve especially during the summer months when insects are likely to be present.
There are no public toilets in this park.
Free parking is available at car parks at Manor Farm Court, MK12 5NN (off Old Wolverton Road) and Haversham Road.
There are several bird hides on site where you can sit and admire the wildlife at the reserve.
Surfaced footpaths lead you from the car parks to the accessible circular route and bird hides, where you can discover more about the history of the nature reserve and its wildlife. There are several gates along the route and benches along the path by the river. Max gradient 5.6%
Other paths that cut through the reserve are more informal, loose gravel paths that may not be suitable for some wheelchairs.
The reserve is situated in the River Great Ouse floodplain and is expected to flood, so may not be fully accessible at all times - before your visit check the current water level.
River in Heavy Flood
The River Great Ouse is currently in heavy flood. Most of the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve will be inaccessible today, including the riverside walk and the Floodplain Meadow. The car park at Haversham Road is likely to be flooded too so, if you choose to visit today, please use the car parks at Manor Farm Court.