Map reference: SP3875
Brandon Marsh is a 200 acre nature reserve lying on the banks of the River Avon to the east of Coventry. It consists of a number of pools surrounded by scrub and woodland. It provides good birdwatching opportunities all year round, with wildfowl in the winter, breeding warblers in the summer, and plenty of passage birds in spring and autumn. Resident birds include Cetti's Warbler and Kingfisher.
Brandon Marsh Nature Centre is the headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and as such has excellent facilities including displays about the reserve, a tea room and a shop. An annual Bird Fair is held at the reserve in the summer months.
Access: Signposted from A45 just east of A46 junction. Admission charge for non members of the Wildlife Trusts.
Official Website: www.warwickshire-wildlife-trust.org.uk/Brandon/brandon.htm
Unofficial Website: The Unofficial Guide to Brandon Marsh. This contains up to date information on birds seen.
Resident: Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, Water Rail, Lapwing, Snipe, Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler.
April - September: Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Cuckoo, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap.
October - March: Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Goldeneye.
Map reference: SP4079
Access: Four miles east of Coventry on the B4027.
Coombe Abbey is a Country Park administered by Coventry City Council. Habitat includes a large lake, extensive woodland and grassland and a small grassy heath. It is the site of the largest heronry in Warwickshire, with approximately 50 pairs. About 15 pairs of Cormorants also breed. During the winter there is a good selection of wildfowl. Woodland birds include Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
The country park is very popular with families, especially during school holidays and at weekends. During these times early morning visits are recommended.
Recent rarities have included a Little Egret in August 2001, a Ferruginous Duck in October 2001, and a Bittern in January 2002.
Resident: Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Stock Dove, Little and Tawny Owl, Kingfisher, all three woodpeckers, Marsh and Willow Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay.
April - September: Warblers including Sedge, Reed and Lesser Whitethroat.
October - March: Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Goldeneye, Grey Wagtail, Fieldfare, Redwing, Siskin, Redpoll.
Map reference: SP4669
Access: South-west of Rugby off the A426.
Draycote Water is well known as being one of the best places in the West Midlands area for winter wildfowl and gulls. It is also a good site for birds on spring and autumn passage.
Visited this reservoir for the first time in January 2001. Highlights were a Great Northern Diver, a male Scaup and my first Velvet Scoter.
Resident: Little and Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck.
April - September: Spring and autumn passage includes Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Gull, Common, Arctic and Black Tern, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail.
October - March: Great Northern Diver, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Lapwing, Golden Plover. Winter gull roost can include Mediterranean, Common, Iceland and Glaucous Gull.
Kingsbury Water Park
Map reference: SP2097
Kingsbury Water Park is owned and run by Warwickshire County Council. It is situated in the Tame valley near to other good birding sites such as Coton, Lea Marston, Ladywalk, and Shustoke Reservoir. The park was established in the late 1970s on the site of a former gravel works. Since that time the M42 has been constructed passing straight through the park, but fortunately it is not too noticeable except for a certain amount of traffic noise.
Many of the pools have been adapted for leisure activities such as sailing and fishing. The nature reserve is at the northern end of the park, with four hides around Cliff Pool. This was recently landscaped to allow the ducks and geese access to the bank, which seems to have increased the number of some birds, such as Wigeon. The islands hold numbers of Lapwing and Cormorant, and in winter Golden Plover.
The West Midland Bird Club has a visitors centre adjacent to Broomey Croft car park, near to Cliff Pool. This is normally manned at weekends, and can provide details of what birds have been seen recently. Please call in for a chat if you are passing.
Winter is perhaps the best time to visit with good numbers of wildfowl present. Spring and autumn wader passage can also be good. Even in summer there are good numbers of breeding birds present, such as Oystercatcher, Common Tern and warblers.
Rarities do turn up regularly, particularly during passage. In 2003 these have included Smew, Osprey, Hobby, Peregrine, Ruff, Whinchat, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Mediterranean Gull, Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Avocet, Garganey and Rock Pipit. In addition 2002 produced Slavonian Grebe, Common Scoter, Great Grey Shrike, Black, Arctic and Roseate Tern, Little Gull and Temminck's Stint.
Highlights for me have included my only ever Firecrest, and all three woodpeckers in half an hour, so it's not just wildfowl.
Access: Signposted from the A4097 south of Kingsbury. Parking Fee. Use the Broomey Croft car park which is nearest to the nature reserve.
Resident: Little and Great Crested Grebes, Cormorant, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting.
April - September: Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Sedge and Reed Warbler, Blackcap.
October - March: Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Goldeneye, Golden Plover, Snipe.
Ladywalk Nature Reserve
Map reference: SP2191
Access: Leave the A446 800 metres south of junction 9 of the M42. Continue down Faraday Avenue to the end and then follow the sign to the nature reserve. Admission is by permit only, available from West Midland Bird Club.
This West Midland Bird Club reserve lies on the site of the old Hams Hall power station. It comprises about 50 hectares of floodland and woodland next to the River Tame. There are a number of pools of varying depth, surrounded by rough pasture, reedbeds and young woodland. There are five hides and a couple of feeding stations.
The reserve is perhaps best known for its wintering Bitterns, up to four being present in recent years. Other birds seen in winter 2001/2 included Little Egret, Water Rail, Peregrine, Green Sandpiper, Woodcock, Short-eared Owl, Stonechat, Brambling and Twite.
Resident: Little and Great Crested Grebes, Cormorant, Sparrowhawk, Water Rail, Tawny Owl, Kingfisher, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit.
April - September: Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turtle Dove, Sedge, Reed and Garden Warbler, Blackcap.
October - March: Bittern, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Snipe.
Lea Marston and Coton
Map reference: SP2194
Access: Leave the M42 at junction 9. Take the A4097 towards Kingsbury. Turn right at the first roundabout and after half a mile there is a car park on the right.
These large lakes are the result of sand and gravel extraction, and lie just to the south of Kingsbury Water Park. There is a large build up of wildfowl in the winter months, with a good record of rarities. For example, in winter 2001-02 there were small numbers of Smew present.
In addition to the car park there is a hide overlooking the easterly Coton lakes.
Recent rarities have included Ring-necked Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Scaup and Waxwing in winter 2000-01, Ruddy Shelduck, Wood Sandpiper, Turnstone and Hoopoe in spring 2001, Little Egret, Ferruginous Duck, Scaup and Green Sandpiper in winter 2001-02, and Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet and Roseate Tern in spring 2002.
Resident: Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.
April - September: Shelduck, warblers including Sedge, Reed and Lesser Whitethroat.
October - March: Little Grebe, Cormorant, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Goldeneye, Smew, Redshank, Common Gull, Grey Wagtail, Fieldfare, Redwing.
Map reference: SP2291
Access: From junction 9 of the M42 take the southbound A446. Turn left on the B4114 through Coleshill. Shustoke is about 2 miles further on. The car park is at the western end of the reservoir.
This is a Severn Trent Water reservoir of approximately 40 hectares. The adjacent small areas of woodland add to the diversity of birdlife.
There is some disturbance from sailing and fishing, so plan your visit accordingly.
Recent rarities have included a Red-necked Grebe in April 2001, Black Tern, Arctic Tern and Rock Pipit in October 2001, and a Common Scoter in April 2002.
Resident: Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Buzzard, Red-legged Partridge, Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay, Bullfinch.
April - September: Warblers including Sedge, Reed and Lesser Whitethroat. Passage waders include Redshank and Common Sandpiper.
October - March: Cormorant, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Fieldfare, Redwing, Siskin, Redpoll.
Details of these and other sites in the county can be found on www.warwickshirebirding.co.uk.
Updated 26 September 2003