Merton Borrow Pit

For an approximate location map, click here.

This deceptively deep lake with its sheep-cropped grassy surround was created when material was extracted to build the embankment of the adjoining M40 motorway. Despite its noisy neighbour and outwardly unpromising appearance, this compact and accessible site has produced some exciting birds in its short existence, and may produce a surprise at any time of year.


From Oxford via Islip: follow signs for Oddington and Charlton-on-Otmoor from Islip, but keep to the main road rather than diverting right to either village. Just after negotiating a series of bends, and before the bridge over the motorway, the lake is clearly visible from the road on the right. There is room for a few cars by the gate on the right, and one or two possible places on the left. but please respect the needs of other vehicles, and in particular do not block field entrances.

It is possible to walk right around the lake; however the site is open and this is probably not necessary (and may cause disturbance to some of the birds present). Scan the lake edge carefully before proceeding as waders can be surprisingly easily missed. In wet conditions the grassy lake surround may be soft and muddy.

Wildfowl and waders, and occasional passing raptors. The proximity of Otmoor no doubt helps, and birds have been known to travel between here and Otmoor. The fields to the north of the road may be worth scanning.

Dave Dunford