Wonderful wetlands to visit
Teeming with as much wildlife as rainforests or coral reefs, wetlands are a wonder of Britain’s natural world. The term ‘wetland’ includes reservoirs and estuaries, as well as wet soil areas like peatlands and marshes. Where land meets water, there is more wildlife than almost anywhere on the planet, so to celebrate February’s World Wetlands day, here’s our pick of the top five wetland sites across the Michael Graham region.
London - Woodberry Wetlands. Opened by Sir David Attenborough in April 2016, this fabulous nature reserve in the heart of London connects city dwellers with wildlife on their doorstep. Spanning 27 acres, the equivalent of 13 football pitches, the waters and reedbeds are alive with wildlife. Kingfisher, reed bunting and chiffchaff breed here, alongside a rich assortment of inner city wildlife including bats, butterflies and moths.
Hertfordshire - Stocker's Lake Nature Reserve. This 100-acre wetland reserve in the Colne Valley has the largest heronry in Hertfordshire. In late autumn water birds return from the north, so keep an eye out for spectacular goldeneye and mandarin ducks. The wet woodland provides habitat for all types of finches in the winter.
Northamptonshire – Rushden Lakes. The visitor centre here is the first for the Wetland Trust’s three counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Pay them a visit to find out about the beautiful Nene Wetlands, a 670-acre nature reserve with paths and cycle tracks around the lakes, meadow and woodland. This diversity of habitat makes the Nene Valley one of the most important places in England for a wide range of wildlife including kingfishers, herons and otters.
Leicestershire - Rutland Water. Home to the fantastic Rutland Osprey Project, in 2001 this internationally famous nature reserve saw the first Osprey chick to fledge in Central England for 150 years. Enjoy a ramble and visit the dozens of bird hides and visitor centres – or join in one of the many activities on offer including guided walks and birdwatching for beginners.
Buckinghamshire - College Lake. Once a chalk quarry, College Lake is one of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust's flagship nature reserves, providing home to over 1,000 wildlife species. Water birds thrive here and there are hides and an eco-visitor centre all overlooking the lake. Lapwing also love the marshland here. Look out for large flocks flying acrobatically in the sky above the water. A perfect way to spend a cold February afternoon.