Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve



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Aston Rowant NNR’s diverse downland habitats on the northwestern scarp of the Chiltern Hills support a variety of plant, insect and bird life. The meadows support herbs such as thyme, basil and marjoram which are the food plants for a kaleidoscope of butterflies including the site’s speciality, silver-spotted skipper, the chalk hill blue and the marbled white. A total of 30 different species of butterfly have been recorded on the reserve, including dingy and grizzled skippers. The reserve’s diverse habitats also support a variety of birdlife including large flocks of finches and winter visitors such as the fieldfare and redwing. Wheatear, whitethroat and blackcap are among the summer visitors recorded here, while the graceful red kite can often be seen soaring on the thermals overhead. Rarer avian visitors to the reserve include ring ouzel, firecrest, hobby and raven, and other birds to look out for include the brightly coloured bullfinch, yellowhammer and the green woodpecker.

Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Oxfordshire

Located at the heart of England, Oxfordshire enjoys a rich heritage and surprisingly varied scenery. Its landscape encompasses open chalk downland and glorious beechwoods, picturesque rivers and attractive villages set in peaceful farmland. The countryside in the northwest of Oxfordshire seems isolated by comparison, more redolent of the north of England, with its broad views, undulating landscape and dry-stone walls. The sleepy backwaters of Abingdon, Wallingford, Wantage, Watlington and Witney reveal how Oxfordshire’s old towns evolved over the centuries, while Oxford’s imposing streets reflect the beauty and elegance of ‘that sweet city with her dreaming spires.’ Fans of the fictional sleuth Inspector Morse will recognise many Oxford landmarks described in the books and used in the television series.

The county demonstrates how the strong influence of humans has shaped this part of England over the centuries. The Romans built villas in the pretty river valleys that thread their way through Oxfordshire, the Saxons constructed royal palaces here, and the Normans left an impressive legacy of castles and churches. The philanthropic wool merchants made their mark too, and many of their fine buildings serve as a long-lasting testimony to what they did for the good of the local community.

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