The word ‘Ham’ is locally used to mean river meadow. The internationally important Ashleworth Ham Nature Reserve lies in the floodplains of the Severn Vale, approximately one mile north of Ashleworth village on Ham Road, and covers over 40 hectares. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The land is owned and managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT); please see www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk for contact details.
Ashleworth Ham floods easily, particularly over the winter, and GWT manages the drainage to retain the water, forming a large lake perfect wetland for overwintering wildfowl.
Although the actual reserve is not open to the public, there are 2 viewing screens positioned along the roadside and an elevated hide, opposite the reserve, in Meerend Thicket, with a parking area. Occasional guided tours are also offered.
Large numbers of wildfowl can usually be seen in winter, including up to 4000 widgeon, 1500 teal and 1000 mallard, along with pintail, shoveler, tufted duck and pochard. In spring, there are breeding populations of lapwing, snipe, redshank, redstart, grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, reed bunting and more. Many birdwatchers submit their sightings at this reserve to The Gloster Birder website, theglosterbirder.co.uk.