Stony Stratford Nature Reserve is a wetland site between Stony Stratford, the Great Ouse and the A5, and is part of the much larger Ouse Valley Park. The reserve is important for breeding and over-wintering birds, and for dragonflies. Map
The reserve was created in 1979 from gravel workings used during the building of the A5, and contains five lakes surrounding a 23ha wet meadow (there is no public access to the meadow). Formerly a BBOWT reserve, the site is now owned and managed by The Parks Trust.
Following a period with little management, the reserve has seen much conservation work in recent years. Two islands were cleared of scrub and covered with shingle, which is attractive to a variety of breeding birds. Several wader scrapes and drains have been dug, and a new reed bed has been planted.
What To Look For
There is a bird hide at the north of the reserve (off the foot path from the car park), but the other hide on the south side of the largest lake (close to the lay-by on Queen Eleanor Street) gives the best views of the reserve and its birdlife. Between March and June Common Tern, Oystercatcher and Lapwing nest on the island. In the 1980s, Little Ringed Plover also nested here and is likely to do so again. Specially made nesting rafts are also used by Common Terns. Outside the breeding season, several waders occur on passage, the most regular being Green Sandpiper and Common Snipe.
Raptors at the reserve include Kestrel, Sparrow-hawk and Buzzard, with occasional visits from Red Kites. Hobbies occur in summer, and in recent years, Ospreys have regularly appeared on autumn passage.
Winter wildfowl numbers are less impressive than they have been in the past, but most of the common dabbling ducks can be found: Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail and – notably – Teal, with flocks of up to 60 birds. Tufted Duck occur throughout the year and breed at the reserve.
An artificial cliff that held a thriving Sandmartin colony in the 1980s and early 1990, now hosts nesting Kingfishers – often twice a year.
Besides bird life, the site is best known for its dragonflies, especially at the pond nearest the car park. No fewer than 19 species have been recorded here, and in 2004 it was the first site in Buckinghamshire at which Small Red-eyed Damselfly was recorded. A walk along the river on the northern boundary should produce other species such as Banded Demoiselle.
How to get there
The reserve is north of Queen Eleanor Street, Stony Stratford, and there is a car park at its eastern end (the car park is not sign-posted off the main road, but lies between Ryeland and Ostlers Lane) SP792410. Alternatively, you can park in the lay-by opposite Stony Stratford sports ground (SP786410) and enter the reserve from there.
The nearest public transport:
The reserve is no more than a ten minute walk from Stony Stratford town centre which is served by numerous bus routes.