…And where do I go..
The Cotswold Water Park (CWP) is an area of 40 square miles of the upper Thames valley, mostly comprising large areas of mixed farmland. For the past 50 years or more, sand and gravel extraction has been ongoing, resulting in the production of habitats not normally associated with farmland in the upper Thames, for example, the active quarrying produces shallow wetlands, expanses of gravel, sandy cliffs, reed beds and willow carr, whilst the post-extraction restoration process produces lakes of varying sizes, reed beds, duck marsh and wader scrapes.
These new habitats have attracted a whole range of wetland birds not normally associated with farmland. The CWP supports in excess of 20,000 wintering waterbirds and holds nationally important numbers of Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Coot, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Smew and Shoveler.
Breeding waterbirds are important here, with good numbers of Great Crested Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot and Mute Swan with increasing numbers of Gadwall and Red Crested Pochard, plus the occasional Pochard, Teal and Shoveler!
But its not just about the ducks!!!
The CWP supports a locally important population of breeding Little Ringed Plover, Sand Martin, Black Headed Gull, Common Tern and Nightingale. Lapwings breed in increasing numbers.
Liaison and partnership working between the CWPT and the local mineral operators enables Sand Martin colonies and Little Ringed Plover nests to be safeguarded each year, drastically increasing their breeding success in the CWP.
Birding highlights include:
Early Spring: April and May see early arriving warbles and hirundines as well as nightingale. Hobbies arrive back, often in large numbers and occasionally with a Red footed Falcon in tow. For the peak Hobby passage, where flocks of up to 25 can be recorded each year, try CWP 57, 58 and 41 where they feed over the lakes.
The Summer: For breeding birds such as Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Lapwing and large number of breeding ducks such as Tufted Duck and Gadwall. Also breeding Hobby, Barn owl and Little Owl.
The Autumn: for sheer number and variety of passage birds through this inland site.
The Winter: Yields large numbers of wintering waterbirds and gulls. For Smew and other wintering duck (November to March) try Lakes 74, Lake 44, Lake 57, Lake 114, Lake 16 and Lake 68a.
This website contains a variety of maps and information on the Cotswold Water Park and the best areas for birdwatching.
For descriptions of birding areas within CWP please use this page
Walking Maps are available from this link.
You will see colour ringed birds and for details of the colour ringing schemes in use locally please use this page.