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Bedfordshire Nature Reserves

Lady Amhurst Pheasant
Chrysolophus amherstiae
©Steve Blain Website
At some 123,000 hectares Bedfordshire is one of the smallest counties in England, though it can boast of being the home of both the RSPB and for many years of British Birds. Its geology, with four main strata of chalk, gault clay, lower greensand and Oxford clay traversing the county roughly from south-west to north-east ensures that it supports a diverse range of habitats even in a predominantly agricultural context, though some, such as heath-land, now occur only in small, isolated fragments. A total county list of some 280 species includes between 110 and 120 regularly breeding species: on average around 200 species are recorded in all each year.
Bedfordshire's speciality used to be Lady Amherst's Pheasant, which occurred on the Greensand having spread from its original introduction at Woburn (also occurring just into Bucks). Sadly, the population of this extremely secretive and more often heard than seen bird has declined rapidly and is now presumed to have died out there. - by Fatbirder

Harrold Odell Country Park, Bedford
Woodland, lakes and meadow
Location: SP960570 - 10 miles NW of Bedford
Road: Harrold to Carlton road
Admission: Free
Facilities: Visitor centre and hide.
Telephone: 01234 720016

Features: Good mix of wetland and woodland birds. Breeding Reed and Sedge warblers, Cormorants and small heronry. Hobby in late summer.

Male Ring Ouzel
Blow's Down, Dunstable
Remnant chalk grassland.
Location: Edge of Dunstable - see map on website.
Road: South of A505
Access: open access - see website.
Features: The open grass slopes attract passage birds, most notably Ring Ouzel in spring. Other birds of interest include Wheatear, Whinchat, Black Redstart and Dotterel.
Full details and map on the Blow's Down website.

The Lodge, RSPB
The Lodge - RSPB Headquarters
The Lodge, Sandy (RSPB Headquarters & Nature Reserve)
Woodland and heath.
Location: 2 miles from Sandy.
Road: A603
Facilities: Trails with wheelchair accessible hide.
Telephone: 01767 680541
Features: Headquarters of the RSPB. Woodland and open sandy heath. All three woodpeckers, warblers and other typical woodland birds occur.

Millennium Country Park (Stewartby Lake & Marston Vale Brick Pits), Bedford
Location: TL010420 - South of Bedford
Road: A421 off Green Lane
Admission: Free
Telephone: 01234 767037
Features: Lake with surrounding scrub. Wildfowl and gulls (large winter gull roost), passage terns and waders. April 2000 will see thhe lake incorporated into the Stewartby Millennium Country Park, with a new reedbed, winter-flooded grassland, visitor centre, hides, cycle track and horse trails.

Priory Country Park, Bedford
Former gravel pits.
Location: SE edge of Bedford, adjacent to River Great Ouse
Road: Barkers Lane off A428, or through Priory Business Park off A421 Bedford bypass
Admission: Free
Facilities Visitor centre with 2 hides
Features: Former gravel pits with areas of scrub and woodland. Winter wildfowl, passage terns and waders, and Water Rail all year.
- original content from Birds of Britain

This is a list of all the main nature reserves in Bedfordshire, or managed by a Beds local organisation:

Latest bird sightings from Bedfordshire:

Buckinghamshire Nature Reserves

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis ©Ashley Beolens Website
From the Thames Valley in the south to the River Ouse in the north, Buckinghamshire contains a wealth of interesting habitats, each with its characteristic bird community. Significant habitats include the Chiltern escarpment, the Chiltern Beech woods and the Vale of Aylesbury. Important bird sites within the county include Ashridge Forest, Black Park, Calvert Jubilee Brick Pit, College Lake, Great Linford Lakes, Little Marlow Gravel Pit, Steps Hill, Stoke Common, Wendover Woods, Weston Turville Reservoir and Willen Lake. The Berks, Bucks and Oxen Naturalist Society (BBONT) manage several of these sites.
The county can boast some rare breeding birds as well as providing important wintering areas for a number of species. Birds which breed in the county include Barn Owl, Crossbill, Curlew, Firecrest, Hawfinch, Hobby, Little Ringed Plover, Long-eared Owl and Nightingale, while the wonderful song of the Woodlark can again be heard at a few sites. Buzzards and Red Kites can also be regularly seen along parts of the Chiltern escarpment. Other species such as Nightjar, Snipe and Stonechat, breed occasionally.
In winter, wetland sites such as Willen Lake and Linford Pits in the north, Calvert Brick Pits, College Lake and Weston Turville Reservoir in the middle of the county and Little Marlow Gravel Pit in the south play host to many wildfowl that includes good numbers of Goosander at preferred sites and small numbers of Smew at others. In the Vale of Aylesbury large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing are annual. Large numbers of Gulls gather at rubbish tips and at roost sites in the county, bringing occasional records of scarcer species such as Iceland and Glaucous Gulls.
Waders are most often reported at the various water sites mentioned above, with the majority of records during the spring and autumn migration periods. Species such as Whimbrel, Greenshank and Ruff are annual but with many other wader species reported each year. Perhaps the most important migration site for passerines is Steps Hill, where birds such as Ring Ouzel are annual and significant movements of other commoner migrant birds are often noted.
The Buckinghamshire Bird Club is the major ornithological organisation in the county and organises evening meetings, field trips, conferences, surveys and publishes both a monthly newsletter and a county annual report. Apart from the clubs main function to advance the education of the public in the knowledge and understanding of ornithology in Buckinghamshire, the club also collects and provides data to planning and conservation bodies. Further details of the club and it`s activities given in the clubs website at - by Fatbirder

Church Wood, Hedgerley (RSPB)
Chiltern woodland.
Location: 3 miles from J2 M40 in Hedgerley village.
Admission: Free
Facilities: Paths.
Telephone: 01295 253330
Features: The woods have bluebells in spring. Woodpeckers, Nuthatch (illustrated right) and other typical woodland birds.
College Lake Wildlife Centre, Tring (Wildlife Trusts)
Lake with islands and marshy area.
Location: SP935139 - Bulbourne near Tring.
Road: B488
Facilities: Visitor Centre, 10 hides and well marked trails
Admission: Permit required from site (free to BBOWT members).
Telephone: 01296 662890
Features: Tern nesting rafts, Kingfisher. Passage waders and winter wildfowl. Good for butterflies and dragonflies.

Weston Turville, Aylesbury / Wendover (Wildlife Trusts)
Reservoir with reedbeds.
Location: SP863096 - N of A413 between Aylesbury and Wendover
Facilities: Public Hide. Parking in large layby.
Admission: Public footpath along perimeter.
Features: Breeding Reed and Sedge Warblers, Little and Great-crested Grebes. Passage terns and winter wildfowl and gulls.

- original content from Birds of Britain

This is a list of all the main nature reserves in Buckinghamshire, or managed by a Bucks local organisation.

Latest bird sightings from Buckinghamshire:

Hertfordshire Nature Reserves

Goldcrest Regulus regulus ©Andy Bright Website
Hertfordshire is a relatively under-watched county and over the years has shown that it can turn up decent birds just like any other county - Paddyfield Warbler, Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Falcated Duck, Yellow-browed Warbler and Solitary Sandpiper are just a few examples.
Among the most popular birding sites are the reservoirs near Tring in the west of the county. Many of Hertfordshire's best birds have been found there. The reservoirs are famous for the first British record of breeding Little Ringed Plovers back in 1938 and other ornithological highlights include Britain's first Marsh Sandpiper in 1887 and England's first breeding record of Black-necked Grebe in 1918.
In the east of the county is the Lea Valley, (shared with Essex) where some more top sites are located, such as Amwell and Rye House Marsh/Rye Meads. One last site well-deserving of a mention is Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits near St Albans which has, in recent years, proven itself as a place to watch. The county has several RSPB Members Groups, some of which have an online presence. - by Fatbirder

Amwell (Wildlife Trusts)
Old gravel pit, now managed for wildlife.
Location: TL375128 - near Amwell village on backroad to Stanstead Abbotts.
Admission: Public access
Facilities: Public hide and viewing area.
Features: Disused gravel pit with reedbeds and woodland. Breeding reedbed and woodland birds as well as Ringed and Little Ringed Plover. Wintering ducks normally include good numbers of Smew. Bitterns regular in winter. In process of becoming SSSI on basis of wintering Gadwall and Shoveler.
(Contributed by Toby Austin)

Heartwood Forest (Woodland Trust)
New native forest with ancient woodland & grassland.
Location: TL172451 - near Sandridge & Wheathampstead.
Facilities: Paths. Bicycle racks.
Features: New native forest connecting valuable ancient woodland, including grassland habitats such as wildflower meadows. Will become largest continuous native woodland in the UK. Already best site for Short-eared Owls in Winter in the county, when it has also attracted Hen Harriers & Great Grey Shrike.

Lemsford Springs, Welwyn Garden City (Wildlife Trusts)
Green SandpiperOld watercress beds.
Location: TL223123 - near Lemsford village.
Facilities: Paths and hides (access by arrangement).
Telephone: 01707 335517
Features: Lagoons, marsh and river stretch provide habitat for a wide variety of water birds including Water Rail and Kingfisher. Green Sandpiper winter (juv illustrated).

Rye Meads, Hoddeston (RSPB / Wildlife Trusts)
Two ajoining reserves. Rye Meads (H&M WT) accessible through RSPB reserve.
Location: TL387099 E of Hoddeston opposite Rye House railway station.
Facilities: Nature trails and hides. RSPB reserve has close circuit TV on breeding Kingfisher and Common Tern colonies.
Admission: Charge to enter RSPB reserve (free to members).
Features: Breeding reedbed warblers, Kingfisher, Snipe. Bittern is regular in winter along with wildfowl, Water Rail and Jack Snipe.

Tring Reservoirs (Wildlife Trusts)
Friends of Tring Reservoirs website.
Mixture of habitats around a complex of 4 reservoirs.
Location: SP904161 (for Wilstone Reservoir) - NW of Tring.
Facilities: Paths and hides. Bluebells Tearooms at Startop's Reservoir.
01727 858901
Wilstone Reservoir, one of the four Tring Reservoirs, was made famous by the first nesting in this country of black-necked grebes in 1918. It is also home to the rare mudwort plant, and hobbies can be spotted hunting across the water. Tringford Reservoir, the smallest of the four, has a tranquil ambience. The open water of Startop’s Reservoir attracts grebes and, if conditions are suitable, little ringed plovers. Marsworth Reservoir has large corn bunting roosts, and the occasional sighting of bitterns in winter. One of the best birdwatching spots in southern England, Tring Reservoirs has a diverse range of birdlife to spot.- original content from Birds of Britain

This is a list of all the main nature reserves in Hertfordshire, or managed by a Herts local organisation.

Latest bird sightings from Hertfordshire:

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