Grafham Water Nature Reserve
The reservoir was created in 1965 to provide people with drinking water and was immediately colonised by wildlife. The nature reserve surrounds the western side of the reservoir and contains ancient and plantation woodlands, grasslands and wetland habitats such as reedbeds, willow and open water.
Grafham Water is one of the prime bird watching sites in the county, with rare and scarce birds such as osprey and the occasional Slavonian grebe alongside the more familiar resident mallards and greylag geese. With nine miles of shoreline, and around 170 species of bird recorded each year, there is always something to see – in autumn the drawdown zone created by water levels dropping attracts a variety of waders such as common sandpiper and dunlin. Flocks of wintering and summer breeding wetland birds are what make Grafham special, earning its SSSI status with nationally important numbers of coot, tufted duck and great crested grebe. Other winter visitors include pochard, goosander, goldeneye and wigeon.
Terns are an attraction with common, black and arctic terns arriving in numbers during passage periods. The reservoir can be great for gull watching with upwards of 30,000 birds roosting in mid-winter along with sightings of Mediterranean, Iceland and Glaucous gulls. There are five bird hides around the nature reserve but many species can be viewed from the three car parks around the site. Part of the reservoir is kept free from sailing and fishing as a bird sanctuary. Here there are two bird hides offering excellent views of large numbers of wetland birds.
The woodlands offer relaxing walks through the dappled shade. The ancient woods also provide spring displays of bluebells and primroses. The meadows teem with life, from dragonflies and butterflies to voles and grass snakes. During summer, the meadows are clothed in an exquisite display of wildflowers including both common spotted and bee orchids. Nightingales nest in the scrub.
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VenueGrafham Water Nature Reserve
Mander Car Park, Grafham Water, West Perry, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 0BX
Map reference: TL 146669 Lat: 52.28828 Long: -0.32126