The Animals of Stanwick Lakes

The Animals of Stanwick Lakes

Lots of different animals live at Stanwick Lakes but you might not see them on your visit as some are a little bit shy, some come out at night, and others live under the water.

Scroll down to find out some fantastic facts about our favourites.

Oyster Catcher

The Oystercatcher is distinctive with its black and white feathers, red bill and pink legs. They are often spotted feeding by the quieter lakes on the reserve, but also listen out for their loud peep-ing call – if you hear them, look up to see them as they fly overhead.

Muntjac Deer

The Muntjac deer is a small deer – only about 50cms tall. The males have short, simple antlers and their canine teeth can spotted sticking out of their mouth. They are quite often seen by visitors but even if you don’t see them, you may see their hooved footprints in the mud.


Bittern are a member of the heron family and are particularly elusive birds. They are very rarely seen but have been heard at Stanwick Lakes making their loud booming call. They particularly like the reeds where they catch fish to eat.

Grass Snake

Grass snakes are reptiles and we have lots at Stanwick Lakes! They are timid, harmless snakes which are rarely spotted, but if you do see one, they may be basking in the sunshine on a bare patch of earth, or swimming in the river. Adult grass snakes can be up to 150cms in size.

Tawny Owl

You are very unlikely to see a Tawny Owl when you visit Stanwick Lakes as they are nocturnal, which means they come out at night. They perch in the trees, looking out for prey such as mice, voles, frogs and worms then swoop down to the ground to catch them.


Bats fly over the lakes and rivers at night, tucking into midges, mosquitoes, moths and small flies. Did you know that a single bat can eat as many as 3,000 insects in one night?! Noctule, Daubentons, Pippistrelle and Soprano pippistrelle bats have all been recorded on the site.

Great Crested Grebe

The Great Crested Grebe are one of the easier birds to see at Stanwick Lakes. They live on several of the lakes, including Solstice Lake near to the Visitor Centre. They have distinctive feathers on their head and if you are lucky you may see them “dance” in the spring as part of their courtship.


Kingfishers swoop up and down the rivers at Stanwick Lakes, but they are so fast they are tricky to spot despite their bright blue feathers. They also like to perch on a tree branch to spot fish, then dive in to catch them. Why not go and stand on Kingfisher Bridge and see if you can see one!


Otters live at Stanwick Lakes but you are unlikely to see one when you visit as they are quite secretive and prefer the quieter parts of the site. These mammals are great swimmers and use the rivers and lakes to move around the nature reserve.

Peacock Butterfly

24 different species of butterfly have been recorded at Stanwick Lakes – this one is the Peacock butterfly. The butterflies love the meadows where they drink nectar, lay their eggs and their caterpillars grow up.


Several different types of fish live in the river and lakes at Stanwick Lakes – the best place to spot them is from Kingfisher bridge. If you do see a fish, it might be a chub. Look out for its blunt snout, rounded body and very large mouth.


This is a Smooth newt, which lives in the lakes on the nature reserve when they are young or in the spring when it’s the breeding season. Once they have grown up, they leave the pond and find a damp place to live. One of their favourite snacks to eat is a tadpole!

Scarce Chaser Dragonfly

Dragonflies are a common sight at Stanwick Lakes in the summer. You can see them flying around the nature reserve, particularly near to the lakes and rivers. Did you know that they date back to prehistoric times when dragonflies the size of eagles soared through the sky!

Common Toad

The common toad is an amphibian and has rough, warty looking skin. Did you know that they don’t hop like frogs, but crawl. You may see one crawling across a path in the spring, but in the winter they find a patch of earth and logs to shelter under.

Green Shield Bug

Shield bugs can be spotted in the meadows and woodland edges at Stanwick Lakes. There are lots of different types but they all have a shield shaped body. Some people know them as stink bugs as they can let out a nasty smell!