Standlake Common Nature Reserve | Oxfordshire County Council

Standlake Common Nature Reserve

A 25-hectare site with a mosaic of wetland habitats.

Standlake Bird Hide.

Habitats and species on the reserve

Standlake Common is now a well-established nature reserve that is home to many resident birds including large numbers of mute swans, coot, greylag and Canada geese, reed buntings  and the occasional kingfisher.

Many migrants stop off on their way by so huge flocks of swallows, sand martins, house martins and swifts can be seen in spring and autumn. More unusual birds such as black-tailed godwits and green sandpipers have been recorded with a black-winged stilt in 2012 a great favourite.

The reserve has a wide variety of habitats with hedges and thorn scrub, lowland meadow grassland, a small reedbed, ponds and the open water of the lake. This all makes for a rich diversity of wildlife so you never quite know what you are going to see. Over 150 bird species have been recorded so far together with toads, grass snakes, roe and muntjac deer plus a multitude of bees, butterflies and other insects.

Surveys of the aquatic life in the lake show that the water quality is good and supports many plants, fish and invertebrates that in turn provide food for all the other species that we can see above the surface.

The grassland is managed as a traditional hay meadow with sheep grazing after the hay is cut in late summer. In 2013 green hay was spread from the nearby Langley’s Lane SSSI with the aim of increasing the wildflower species in the grassland.

The River Thames forms the southern boundary of the reserve.Kingfisher at Standlake by Jim Hutchins


In order to avoid disturbing the resident wildlife, particularly during the nesting season, the reserve has been carefully designed to allow visitors to view the whole site from two hides which are accessed directly off the Windrush Path.

You can purchase a key for the hides that will also give you access to the hide at Rushy Common Nature Reserve from the project office, email: or tel: 01865 815426. The Langley’s Lane hide is accessible to wheelchair users with limited parking for blue badge holders directly next to the hide with a dedicated access code.

Please note that the reserve is on private land and public access is not permitted on or around the nature reserve itself.

The reserve is found to the south west of Standlake, off the A415 Witney to Abingdon Road, OS Grid Ref: SP 385 018, nearest post code OX29 7RW. It can be accessed on foot via the Windrush Path from Standlake or Newbridge. Please note there is no public car park at the reserve but both Standlake and Newbridge are served by local bus services. Contact Traveline South East on 0871 200 22 33 or visit their website for timetables.

History of the reserve

This used to be a typical arable field but when Oxfordshire County Council granted permission in the 1990s to extract gravel from this area of farmland it provided the opportunity to create a new nature reserve next to the River Thames.

Gravel extraction was completed in 2000 and since then the county council has been working in partnership with the mineral company and landowner to establish a mosaic of wetland habitats that support a wealth of wildlife on this 25ha site.

The restoration plan for the reserve has been designed specifically for nature conservation and many different habitats have been created on the site. The lake has very gently sloping banks with extensive gravel beaches and areas of shallows that attract ducks and wading birds and support a diversity of aquatic plants. A number of islands also provide refuges and safe nesting sites for many birds. The reed bed attracts smaller birds such as the reed bunting and a variety of insects.

This is just one of several lakes resulting from gravel extraction in the area but the only one restored specifically for nature conservation. There is quite a lot of movement from one lake to another, for example, oystercatchers breed on an island in a neighbouring lake and frequently visit the nature reserve with their young.

Last reviewed
06 June 2017
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