Birds

Stanwick Lakes is known for its wild birds and thousands of people visit to see them each year. It is particularly well known for waterfowl like ducks and geese but a huge variety of birds, such as Reed Warbler, Long Tailed Tit and Grey Wagtail are regularly spotted.

Over 15 lakes, ponds and marginal habitat provide perfect areas for waterbirds, particularly those lakes with an open nature and emerging islands. Ongoing surveys reveal that the site is used by Oyster Catchers, Common Terns and Great Crested Grebes for breeding.

Reedbeds provide habitat for Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Bittern (a BAP priority species) and Stanwick Lakes boasts one of the largest in the county. Between November and January the site hosts spectacular Starling murmerations around dusk before they retire to a reedbed for the night.

There are large numbers of other wintering waterfowl species including Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal and Tufted Duck. Many of the birds which spend the winter on site migrate down from colder regions like Scandinavia and Siberia to benefit from our comparatively milder climate.

Wetland Bird Surveys (WEBS) counts carried out in autumn and winter indicate that Stanwick Lakes can hold a significant proportion of the valley’s population of rare Golden Plover (an annex 1 species of the EC Birds Directive); in fact, at times, over 3,000 birds have been present. Lapwings (an IUCN Red list species) are seen in flocks of over 1,000 in flight from September to March, although the site will host in excess of 3,000 birds at any one time.

Managed hedgerows, trees and bramble patches provide areas for nesting birds in the spring and summer while providing warmth and cover in autumn and winter. More common garden birds such as Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Robin and Great Tits are regularly seen as well as less common birds such as Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and Bullfinch.

The abundance of hawthorn provides food in the form of berries in the autumn and winter for Redwing and large numbers of Fieldfare (another IUCN Red list species), as well as providing thorny protection for nesting birds in the spring and summer.

Barn Owls and Tawny Owls use the site and have nested in owl boxes on site. The wildflower meadows, which have an abundance of butterflies and bees during spring and summer, provide the perfect hunting ground for them, due to the small mammals using the long grass for cover.

The display in the Visitor Centre provides a good introduction to the resident birds and to our summer and winter bird visitors. For a comprehensive list of birds throughout the seasons visit Seasonal Birds.