For a county as far removed from the sea as Warwickshire, it may seem strange that the focus of birdwatching is around water. The main sites are found in the Tame, Avon and Leam valleys and have been shaped by mining subsidence, sand and gravel extractions and the need for drinking water. In the north, Alvecote Pools (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve SK250040) is the first in a series of waters with other interesting sites such as Kingsbury Water Park (County Council) and Ladywalk Nature Reserve (West Midland Bird Club, noted for annual wintering Bitterns) ending with the relatively small but often very good Shustoke Reservoir (Severn Trent Water SP220910).
Near Coventry lies Brandon Marsh, headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and first breeding site in the region for Cetti's Warblers. Not far away is the largest heronry in the county (approx 60 pairs SP4079) at Coombe Abbey Country Park, here you can also find Lesser-spotted Woodpecker in some good mature woodland. The vast expanse of Draycote Reservoir near Rugby can be good for passage waders and terns and is excellent in winter for scarce gulls, grebes, divers and sea-duck. In the south of the county are a couple hills near the villages of Napton and Ilmington, which sometimes have small falls of migrants, with Icterine and Yellow-browed Warbler turning up in recent years.
The county of Warwickshire in the Midlands offers a limited range of habitats for birds being land-locked. There are numerous small nature reserves throughout the area, most of which are maintained by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (See website list below). The majority of these sites are woodland and hedgerow, which are home to a range of species typical to these habitats. The Headquarters of the Trust is at Brandon Marsh. This reserve is home to one of the UK strongholds of the Cetti's Warbler that can be easily heard and sometimes seen during the summer. There are a few sites, which are good for over-wintering water birds. Draycote Water regularly holds over 50,000 roosting gulls in the winter and both Draycote and Coton Lakes regularly feature various scarcer species of ducks, grebes and Divers including Smew, Scaup, Goosander, Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver.
The other main winter county highlight is Bitterns at Ladywalk Nature reserve. Passage migrants can be seen at any of the sites mentioned in Spring or Autumn and typically include Black Tern and Osprey. Warwickshire is an ideal base for twitching, as any part of the mainland UK is reachable by car in a day. Day trips to sites like North Norfolk, the South Coast etc., are also entirely feasible.
Eleventh consecutive year and fifth at Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve, The Birdwatchers Summer Fair 2005 and Wildlife Digital Photo Show is the place to be, Sat 4th and Sun 5th June 2005. Booking details from PO Box 1, Studley, Warwicks B80 7JG. 20% discount off space for registered charities.
Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve
The reserve is owned and managed by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. It consists of a combination of scrubland, reed bed, ponds and lakes. There is an entrance charge of £2.00p for non-members and facilities include a cafeteria and toilets. A number of paths network the reserve and there are also hides overlooking the main lake. The most important summer residents of the reserve are a population of Cetti's Warblers. The best place to find them is at the start of the nature trails, near the reserve map from where their distinctive call should be heard in the bushes. The reserve is also home to Grasshopper Warblers, which can be heard in the reeds and scrub but seldom seen. Recent unusual sightings have included Osprey, Spoonbill and Great Grey Shrike. It is also well worth having a good look around the car park area as recent sightings here have included Black Redstart and Stonechat.
This site is best in the winter months when it is home to various species of wildfowl. Smew have been present here for several consecutive winters. Other regulars include Goldeneye and Goosander. A Ferruginous Duck was present for several years up to 1998. The lakes are all close to the road so just park off the road and viewing is straightforward.
This large reservoir, owned by Severn Trent Water is probably the premier site in Warwickshire. The easiest way to watch birds here used to be to drive around the perimeter road (approx 5 miles) and stop at convenient viewing points - but this is no longer allowed. However, you can park in the nature trail car park and walk. The site is best in the winter months when a wide variety of species of wildfowl are present including Goldeneye, Goosander and Wigeon. Other occasional visiting species include Smew, Scaup and Common Scoter, Slavonian and Black-Necked Grebes. Four Great Northern Divers over-wintered here during 1998/99. The reservoir is also a roost for large numbers of Gulls (50,000+) and these frequently include Glaucous, Iceland, Mediterranean and Little Gulls. The gulls can be viewed from several points around the perimeter but the best bet is to look for the other birders who gather in the evening (about an hour before dark) in the hope of finding something special. A good telescope is essential for this as the birds are generally fairly distant. The reservoir is also a stop-off point for passage migrants both in spring in autumn with visitors typically including various Waders, Black and Arctic Terns and Osprey. Half of the perimeter of the water is grass, which is ideal for grazing geese and ducks. The other half is a man-made bank of boulders, which is home to all three common species of wagtails and to kingfishers. Outside the perimeter road are trees, shrubs and a hedgerow that provide a home for all the species one would expect including treecreeper, woodpeckers and warblers.
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Number of Species
Number of bird species: 307
Count Bird - White-tailed Plover Vanellus leucurus [as it was a UK first… …plus it was used for the now very rare Warwickshire Birders car stickers!]
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Where to Watch Birds in West Midlands
- Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the Former West Midlands - F Gribble, G Harrison, H Griffiths, J Winsper and S Coney Series: WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN BRITAIN AND EUROPE: HELM SERIES 312 pages, 53 maps, 24 line drawings. Christopher Helm due June 2007
ISBN: 9780713664195Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds noted at Ladywalk Reserve
short annual report obtained from the head warden, Steve Cawthray, 129 Greenfinch road, Chemsley Wood, Birmingham, B36 OQX firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Birds of the West Midlands
…covering Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the former West Midlands County - Graham Harrison and Janet Harrison 496 pages, colour photos, line drawings, maps. West Midlands Bird Club 2005
ISBN: 0950788120Buy this book from NHBS.com
Draycote Reservoir Recorder - John Judge
Tel: 07733 017594 (mobile) email@example.com See Draycote Birding
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Places to Stay
Charming stone farmhouse on the edge of village. Attractive garden with views of Ilmington Hills. Comfortable en suite bedrooms. Guests welcome to bring own wine. Ground floor bedroom en suite suitable for disabled guests. Easy reach of the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and so many National Trust properties and gardens.
Folly Farm Cottage B&B
Romantic Country Cottage situated in delightful Cotswold village of Ilmington, Near Stratford Upon Avon. We are providing luxury Four Poster B and B all En suite. 3 Four Poster B and B rooms (2 King Size Beds, one with Whirlpool bath)Hospitality tray, TV and Video, late breakfast served in your room.
Nuneaton & District Birdwatchers' Club
We are an independent birdwatcher’s club based in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, founded in 1950. A small, friendly club, we have regular indoor and outdoor events, and are always keen for new members to join.
West Midland Bird Club
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - The WMBC serves birdwatchers and ornithologists in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the Metropolitan WM, with lectures, field trips, a bulletin and an annual report… - Local page for Tamworth: http://www.westmidlandbirdclub.com/tamworth
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is the leading local environmental charity, protecting wildlife and natural places throughout Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull.
Banbury Ornithological Society
Founded in 1952, the Society studies the bird life in the twelve 10km squares surrounding Banbury and includes parts of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Fieldwork is the core of BOS activity, however, the Society also holds regular monthly meetings, publishes a monthly newsletter and Annual Reports, manages 5 bird reserves and is pro-active in local conservation matters…
Forums & Mailing Lists
Archie's British Birding Blog Deluxe Edition
Adam Archer - Polesworth, Warwickshire, United Kingdom - Welcome British Bird Fans. This blog is just a lighthearted collection of my birding exploits around this wonderful Country of ours and very occasionally beyond. During 2010 I foolishly decided to attempt a target of 300 British Bird species in a year, a challenge I'm now regretting…
Keith's Birding log
Welcome to Keith's Birding, a personal view and recording of birdwatching (or 'birding') in and around my locality. The main page is a diary, with accounts of my various trips, sightings and thoughts on nature near my home base of Wigram's Turn Marina - along with accounts of my conservation work at Brandon Marsh Reserve. There are also various links to pages giving more details about this site and some of my birding records…
Welcome to Warwickshire Birding this Blog will be updated on a regular basis and will include all news from the Warwickshire Birding scene. This site will be for postings of Bird or Bird related news only, no Gossip / Questions or Discussion Threads. Steve Seal…
Bob the Birder
BLOG from a birder in Warks…
I've been living on water aboard my 60ft traditional Narrowboat for the past 9 years and wouldn't change that for the world! I'm currently moored on the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union Canals at Napton-on-the-Hill Warwickshire, England…
I'm a passionate nature lover and conservationist working with Brandon Marsh Conservation Team: Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Love living aboard my traditional Narrowboat…
All things birdy in Warwickshire including a species list and up to date information on sightings.
Gulls in the West Midlands Region
This is a personal website which presents data and images relating to gulls in the West Midlands Region (the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the metropolitan county of the West Midlands).
Log book, access details, and much more.
Birds of Shustoke Resevoir
Shustoke Reservoir lies on th B4114 Coleshill to Furnace end road, south of the river Bourne. The site runs 1.5km west to east, the main pool is only 400mts across at its widest point. The water supply comes from the river Bourne which feeds the small pool of eight acres at the eastern end, the water is then transferred to the main pool of 92 acres. Disturbance at weekends from sailing boats can be a problem…
The Unofficial Guide to Brandon Marsh
Brandon Marsh is a superb mosaic of open water, wetland and grassland that attracts a wonderful variety of wildlife. It is especially important for birds throughout the year, but also provides suitable habitats for many other plants and animals.
Photographers & Artists
Photographer - Brian McGeough
This is just an on going gallery to see how I can improve my birding pictures I will replace bad with good as I get better…
Photographer - Rosemarie Kearney
A growing portfolio of bird pictures…
Photographer - Keith Burtonwood - Click on the Wildside
We live in the beautiful Warwickshire village of Easenhall. The garden is flanked by an ancient hedgerow which I try to leave undisturbed. Some 35 species of bird and various mammals and plants are present throughout the year - species such as Nuthatch, Great Spotted and Green Woddpeckers, Tree creepers, Goldcrest and Fieldfare to name but a few…
Photographer - Ashley Grove Wild Images
Ashley Grove is a semi professional photographer based in Worcestershire. Having a life long interest in wildlife, his images show that passion. With several lectures available to Birding and Photography groups, Ashley is a highly rated speaker…