Places to see birds

Farmoor Reservoir

Farmoor Reservoir
The Causeway - Reg Cox

Farmoor Reservoir lies in an old river channel that once cut the gap leading east towards Botley and Oxford city centre, five miles away. The four-mile walk around the reservoir offers views of the water, woodland paths, riverside meadows and nature reserves. The site is owned by Thames Water and is one of the top birdwatching venues in Oxfordshire. The combination of open reservoir, woodland, award-winning wetlands and meadows attracts a great variety of birds.
In autumn, the site is ideally situated to draw in migrating and wintering birds. Among the attractions is the large gull roost that builds from late July. But it is the unpredictability of what may arrive on migration that makes Farmoor such an interesting place to visit at this time of year. Take September 2009, when an American black tern, a white-winged black tern and black tern were all present on one day, to be joined by a flock of 54 Arctic terns later the same afternoon.
There has been a long-standing collaboration between Thames Water, The Environment Agency and Pond Conservation to create wetland wildlife habitats close by the River Thames at Farmoor Reservoir. Over the period from 1990 to 2003 this led to the creation of three nature reserves: Pinkhill Meadow, Shrike Meadow, and Buckthorn Meadow. Both Pinkhill and Shrike Meadows have observation hides and Pinkhill has a feeding station provisioned throughout the winter.
Access to the reservoir and the reserves is from the B4044 Oxford to Eynsham Road; car parking is £2 per day payable at the exit barrier or £20 for an annual pass. The hides used to have key access but are now kept unlocked at all times. The nature reserve area is reached from the Thames towpath. Thames Water has recently built a trail suitable for wheelchairs, which links the hides. There is a short ramp with a 1:20 slope, and car parking for disabled badge holders is available at the Pinkhill hide at the start of the trail but please contact the Ranger Team upon arrival.
In 2012 Thames Water installed two fully accessible toilets at the east and west sides of the reservoir and mobility scooters are available, free of charge if booked in advance. The Farmoor Ranger Team can be contacted on 07747 640707. Busheyleaze Copse to the south of the reservoir has a wide range of woodland species, including marsh tits, and in the winter these can be easy to see at the bird feeding station supplied by Thames Water.
Thames Water has a close relationship with the Oxford Ornithological Society and holds open days and bird events through the year.