Conigre Mead Nature Reserve Melksham

 How it started.

The reserve in 1989 was just a field of Cocksfoot grass, occasionally grazed by cattle. There was just one Willow tree in the centre, which marks the original course of the River Avon.  It was decide to try to create a Nature Reserve here on the banks of the river for all to enjoy and to be a resource for local schools. 

Money was raised from various local organisations, councils and individuals.  The reserve was then taken over by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, who with a team of volunteers manage it.Over the course of 20 years, ponds have been dug, trees and shrubs planted.

 Local Primary school children planted wildflowers.

Please note that all photos on this website are copyright protected and must not be used without permission of the site owners.


Working Party Dates

The volunteers meet at the reserve every month on the third Saturday at 10am for a working party. The working party dates for the next few months are:

24th May

21st June

19th July

New volunteers are very welcome!

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Reserve is award-winning!

South West in Bloom 'It's your Neighbourhood Award' presented to volunteers

The efforts of the volunteers at the reserve have been recognised with a South West in Bloom 'It's your Neighourhood Award'. The judges from South West in Bloom visited Melksham in July and commended the success of the reserve. The mayor of Melksham, Chris Petty, presented the award to the group during October's work party.

Conigre Mead Volunteers award SW in bloom 9495

Photo by Gill Cardy

The Melksham Independent News features the story on this week's front page:

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Flower ID Workshop

21st July 2013

On Sunday 21st July we held the first of our workshops funded by the Lottery. The weather was gloriously hot, and many flowers were in bloom. Our usual meadow cranesbill was very abundant but our leader, Tim Kaye, soon had us investigating other plants. We eventually recorded over 60 species of plants, mostly wildflowers, particular special ones were Flowering Rush and Arrowhead (also flowering) in the river, and masses of Purple Loosestife. It was a very informative workshop.

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Flowering Rush


Purple loosestrife, with green-veined butterfly.

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Musk Mallow

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Wildlife Sightings: July 2013

Photographs by Gill Cardy

Here are some photographs of sightings on the Reserve this month:


Emperor Dragonfly patrolling the river.


Azure Damselfly perching on vegetation.


Slow worm emerging from one of the ponds.



Workshops Update

Due to the cold weather the insects are not as numerous as usual, so the DRAGONFLY AND OTHER INSECTS WORKSHOP has been postponed and will now take place on Sunday 11th August at 10am till 4pm.
Other workshop are:
FLOWERING PLANTS: Sunday 21st July
MAMMALS: Sunday 4th August
REPTILES:  Saturday 1st September
All courses are for anyone with an interest in wildlife and are free, supported by the Big Lottery. Refreshments will be provided.
Places are limited. Booking essential to Wiltshire Wildlife Tust  (0138072560) or to Ian & Gill Cardy (01225 703859)

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Spring 2013 - Update and Wildlife Sightings

At last the river has gone down to something like its summer level, but the banks have been scoured when the river was in spate, and so much vegetation has disappeared. We hope it will return during the summer, and we plan to have some new planting.

A day of sunshine on the 26th April brought out the insects and particularly the butterflies   All 4 of the Nymphalid butterflies, which feed on the stinging nettles, have been seen – some of them looking very tatty as they emerge from Hibernation. Some nice fresh specimens of Tortoiseshell, Comma and Peacock were seen. Brimstones were flying a few days ago.

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Tortoiseshell butterfly

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Comma butterfly

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Peacock butterfly


Water Shrew

24th August 2012

A red-letter day for mammals albeit a sad one. A dead water shrew was found on the path to the old pond. These are scarce little animals and we have only ever seen dead ones and those not for over 10 years. At least we know they are still around. Here is a photo of a luckier animal, photographed elsewhereWater Shrew


Wildlife Sightings on the Reserve

by Gill Cardy

On Monday 24th July the sun was shining warmly for our few days of real summer. At last the dragonflies were flying and this morning a Brown Hawker, an Emperor and several male Scare Chasers (see photo below) were dashing about the old pond.


Then a beautiful grass snake swam across the pond - what a lucky sighting!



Rare Bug found on Reserve

A Bioblitz and several workshops held last summer on the reserve have revealed the high levels of biodiversity of Conigre Mead, including the discovery of a rare bug.

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Photograph of mystery bug found at Conigre Mead

In searching through the many photographs taken at the summer events, Reserve Warden Gill Cardy spotted a shield bug that was difficult to identify. After consulting the British Bugs website*, Gill suspected it might be the rare Box Bug. She sent photos of the unusual bug to British Bugs and 2 experts confirmed her identification. The Box Bug (Gonocerus acuteangulatus) is quite a rarity, having been found only at Box Hill until the 1990s. It is known to feed on Box trees, but more recently it has been found on other plants. This is the first confirmed sighting of this bug in Wiltshire.


Box Bug 7324


Other wildlife found at the Bioblitz and summer workshops include:

15 species of butterfly, 10 moth species, 7 dragonfly and damselfly species, at least 4 different species of bee, 3 grasshopper and cricket species, 5 fly species, 5 spider species and 3 snail species, 3 small mammal species and a wide range of plants.

* provides an online identification guide to UK Hemiptera (an order of insects usually referred to as the ‘true bugs’).




Bioblitz weekend 7-8th September

A Bioblitz was held at the reserve at the beginning of the month. A Bioblitz is a fast, intensive survey of all forms of life in a natural space carried out by expert naturalists and members of the public. It's a race to find as many as possible different species of plants, birds, insects, fungi, mammals, fish, and everything else  in 24 hours. Everything found is written down to make a 'species record' which feeds into national databases that monitor our wildlife - citizen science in action!

A survey session of bats and moths was held on the Saturday evening and on Sunday, the search was on for all manner of bugs and beasts. The photos below are from the Sunday morning session where visitors were helped with identifying and recording the spider population by a local expert from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Results from the Bioblitz have been forwarded to the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Record Centre to be recorded on their database (

bioblitz 2

bioblitz 6

bioblitz 4

For more information about Bioblitzs, visit this website:

Photographs by Anita Exton



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Photographs from our visitors

One of our visitors, Graham Peaple, was kind enough to send us some of his wonderful photographs taken on the Reserve.

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Banded Demoiselle

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Chaffinch in winter

Sparrow Hawk. May 2012.012




Mammal Workshop - new date

The mammals workshop has been re-scheduled for 25th August and will start at 9am to show live mammals.

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Upcoming Events

June - September 2013

Some exciting events are planned for this summer as the final part of our Lottery bid.

June: Insect and Dragonfly workshop

July: Wildflower identification workshop

August: Mammal workshop

September: Reptile and amphibian Workshop

Keep an eye on our notice boards and the Blog for further details

The next Working Party will be on Saturday May 19 at 10 am


December 2012

What a wet year! The reserve has been flooded about 8 times but in spite of all the rain our new paths have survived really well and show no signs of destruction - unlike the muddy Riverside Walk which is almost unusable. There is a lot of silt deposited around the river seat, but we have brushed it off once and it will be done again to restore a clean hard surface. One of the hibernacula was partly flooded, but the big one remained dry so we hope the reptiles will have survived.

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Our record of 15 dragonflies from last year was not repeated this year but good numbers of Scarce Chaser Dragonfly and White legged Damselflies were found, along with an unusually large number of Brown Hawkers. Let’s hope for a good year in 2013.

Our butterfly numbers were down as they were almost everywhere.

It was good to find a new species for the reserve in a Herald Moth, quite a common one which flies in the winter - pictured below.

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Keep a look out for waxwings which have come to winter in Britain in recent weeks. Please let the wardens know if you see one.

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All records are valuable. Please report your findings to the wardens (Tel. 01225 703859), or if possible to the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Record centre - 

Records of hedgehogs - anywhere in Wiltshire - are particularly welcome just now.

We are planning several events for 2013 to help you get more from this reserve - Watch this space!

Season’s Greetings to all our readers

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Tea-break on the new seats

Melksham's bee keepers made the most of the new seats on the Reserve and enjoyed a tea-break at their last meeting.

Bee keepers

photo by Pete Colegate

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