Brush Hill Nature Reserve The Chiltern Society

High lights!

Glow-wormGlow-worm Lampyris noctiluca
Glow-worms are in fact beetles. However, the male, which is around 12mm (½ inch) long and is light brown in colour, looks more beetle-like than the female. Only the female produces a green light from the last few segments of her abdomen, created by a substance called luciferin mixed with oxygen, its primary purpose is to attract the larger-eyed males. NOTE: Leave glow-worms where they are, they cannot survive outside this unique environment.

Violet helleborineViolet helleborine Epipadis violacea
Up to 60cm (2 feet) tall and usually growing in clumps of as many as 20 stems or 'spikes' suffused with violet, the tightly-packed flowers occur on one side of the stem and are light pink. They are specialists of the dark, shady conditions of beech woodland. NOTE: lt's against the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to uproot wild flowers.

RavenRaven Corvus corax
In recent years, along with red kites and buzzards, ravens have also been spotted. They are usually found in the rugged west and north of the British Isles, so this is one of the few places in this part of the country where you may see one. A raven is a large crow, with a powerful beak, long wings and a more rounded end to the tail than other members of the crow family.

Attractive all year round

Some of the plant and animal species that may be seen at Brush Hill at different times of the year.

Bluebells, wood anemones, cowslips, warblers, nuthatches, treecreepers, woodpeckers, tawny owls, brimstone and orange tip butterflies…

Pyramidal orchids, toadflax, sanicle (wood elder), swallows, swifts, woodpeckers, marbled white, common blue and meadow
brown butterflies, scarlet tiger moths and glow-worms…

Wayfaring tree berries, traveller’s joy, lots of woodland fungi, red kites, buzzards and possibly ravens…

All kinds of animals may be seen because of the lack of cover, including redwings, fieldfares, siskins, redpolls, foxes, muntjac, roe and fallow deer…


The ancient woodland at the top of Brush Hill contains oak, Scots pine, larch, horse chestnut, cherry, ash, hornbeam and beech, which provide a dense, spreading canopy through the summer and beautiful golden colour in autumn.

Trees and more

Under the canopy of these bigger trees, there are holly, hawthorn, hazel, wych elm, elder, field maple, wayfaring tree and guelder rose (snowball bush). In spring, the ground is carpeted with bluebells, sweet woodruff, wood anemones, yellow archangel and dog’s mercury. Tawny owls can be heard in the evening and you might see a treecreeper, nuthatch or greater spotted woodpecker, along with speckled wood butterflies.

One of the fritillary species at Brush Hill


The mature hedgerows of hawthorn and blackthorn provide a bounty of fruit for our native animals as well as winter visitors such as redwing and fieldfare.


The downland is grazed by sheep between October and March to prevent scrub invasion and to sustain a green sward where plants such as wild thyme, cowslip, toadflax, lady’s bedstraw and pyramidal orchid can flourish. This area has been home to many species under threat across the county, including yellow meadow ants, glow-worms, chalkhill blue and small copper butterflies.

The hillside offers good aerial displays of swifts and swallows as well as resident red kites and buzzards.