23 Nov
2013
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The lakes

It is a golden afternoon and with the flame-yellow maples reflecting perfectly on the lake’s glass-like surface, we could be in a postcard.

We have been doing a little tour of Cotswold Water Park. I promised Izzy ducks and they have proved surprisingly hard to deliver. After last week’s visit to WWT Slimbridge, I think she is expecting a similar number of waterbirds here and so far, we have seen very few.

Our first stop at Waterhay Reedbed was not very fruitful. A notice on the board stated that the water levels had dropped due to recent quarrying activity and that the bird interest had subsequently declined. We wandered along the footpath for a while and there were plenty of songbirds – Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Starlings, Magpies, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, but apart from the occasional quack of a Mallard, waterfowl were decidedly thin on the ground. Izzy was not impressed.

So, we made another stop at Lake 12, where a row of Black-headed Gulls surveyed the car park from the fence. Here, we ate our sandwiches and Izzy had a very random tantrum about noodles. Then, a group of Mallards waddled over, expecting sandwich crusts. Luckily, Izzy simply had to brush down her clothes to provide them with a feast. We gazed out over the water, where Great Crested Grebes dived and caught fish, Coots fought, Tufted Ducks dozed and Mute Swans glided whilst sailing boats floated by.

We try one last stop, at Swillbrook Lakes Nature Reserve and follow the footpath between the stream and the lake. It is serene, the peace only disturbed by the occasional plop of an unseen, surfacing fish. A Heron lifts unhurriedly into the sky and flaps away. A few more Mallard splash in the distance. It has not been a spectacular day for wildlife, but for autumn colours and landscapes, it has been the best.

Checklist

Practicalities

We parked in the car park at Waterhay and followed the bridlepath for a little way, before turning back. Then we parked in the car park at Lake 12 and watched the birds from there. Next, we parked next to the entrance of Swillbrook Lakes Nature Reserve and followed the footpath for a little way, before returning the way we had come. The footpath at Waterhay would be navigable by buggy, but the footpath at Swillbrook was not.

 

Other places to visit a lake

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