The Cotswold Water Park is an excellent birding destination throughout the year; ranging from 20,000 wintering waterbirds, to 21,000 wintering gulls, to vast numbers of breeding warblers along with Nightingales, Little Ringed Plover and Common Tern, there is always something of interest here!
Internationally important for winter waterbirds
Large numbers of nightingale and breeding warblers
Impressive displays of starlings
The Cotswold Water Park Bird Blog
For really up to date sightings and information on what to see where in the Cotswold Water Park, the CWP Bird Blog is a great place to start. Launched in 2006 to promote birding in the CWP and to provide a central repository for birding information for the CWP it highlights what has been seen in recent days and shows which of the 150 lakes are good locations to visit. The Bird Blog is maintained and updated by volunteers – if you have any sightings why not send them in?
© Andy Rouse
Birdwatching in the Cotswold Water Park
Due to the central location of the Cotswold Water Park and the vast area of wetland habitats, bird monitoring and ringing studies are showing that this area is an important stop-over for feeding for migrating birds, during both the Spring and the Autumn. Almost anything can turn up, and frequently does!
There are several bird hides from which to see a great variety of birds, but often it is from the public footpaths around the lakes where birdwatchers can get their best sightings. Most of the lakes have numbers, which are used by the birdwatchers to record sightings on the blog, and which are shown on the CWP Access Map – available to download or from the Gateway Centre.
The Cotswold Water Park Trust runs guided walks throughout the year, so keep a look out for details and dates.
Cotswold Water Park Birds leaflet
With such a huge variety of birds visiting and living in the area throughout the year, the Trust has produced a leaflet to help visitors identify some of the species which are special to the Cotswold Water Park. There is also guidance about the best places to see them, but of course nothing in the wild is guaranteed, so it is best to check the Bird Blog as well.
© Richard Tyler
Annual birdwatching highlights
In April and May, warblers and hirundines arrive back in the area along with the Nightingales and Hobbies, often 25 or more, and occasionally with a Red Footed Falcon in tow.
This is a great time for breeding waders such as Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Lapwing and for large numbers of breeding ducks such as Tufted Duck and Gadwall.
Visit in the Autumn months to experience the sheer number and variety of passage birds migrating through this inland site.
Often the birdwatcher’s preferred season here in the CWP, as there are so few human visitors yet large numbers of wintering waterbirds and gulls.
With more than 150 lakes, getting around the area may prove tricky, so why not pick up a Walking and Cycling map which identifies all the lake numbers and public Rights of Way. You can get a paper copy at The Gateway Centre, Spine Road (next to Cotswold Outdoor) or download a PDF version from the maps page.