Nature Reserve and Picnic Site
The Prestwood Local Nature Reserve on the Hampden Road, Prestwood, is managed in conjunction with the Chiltern Society. It was established in 1975 at which time the land was being used as a scrap car dump.
In May 2011 the site was designated as a Local Wildlife Site in recognition of "diverse chalk grassland with some rare species and an excellent site for public enjoyment and education".
Throughout the summer months you can expect to find many chalk grassland specialities such as common spotted orchid (shown here), bee orchid, sweet briar, field scabious, clustered bellflower, marjoram and chiltern gentian and many more.
Prestwood Local Nature Reserve is also a stronghold of glow-worms, once much more abundant than now; the female of this beetle can be found glowing at night during the summer to attract a mate.
The grassland slope of the nature reserve is home to many species of butterflies, some of which are rarely found elsewhere locally.
The reserve is part of the Butterfly Transect that is walked by Prestwood Nature members each week from April to September.
A few of the less common butterflies found here are shown below. More can be seen on the Butterfly Transect page.
Shy retiring birds such as bullfinch, blackcap, garden warbler can be heard calling and singing in the cover of the scrub areas.
They can be seen more readily during April and May, when pairing up and feeding their young make them a little braver.
Red kite, buzzard and kestrel are all regularly seen here too.
Keep an eye and ear out for ravens who are increasingly frequent visitors to this valley.
Signs of badgers can be seen around the reserve. When looking for worms or other food the badger rakes up an almost square clod of earth. Foxes, deer and the edible dormouse all make use of this exceptional Nature Reserve.
The managed scrub areas include blackthorn, hawthorn, spindle tree, dogwood, wayfaring tree and hazel. The main management task is to cut these back regularly in order to create more light for the rare plants. Following each clearance many more plants flourish and have a greater chance to expand their area.
Prestwood Nature has carried out a full flora survey of the site, rediscovering some plants thought to have been lost and also some new species. Knowledge of the plants and wildlife of the reserve is important for fine-tuning the management plan.