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Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society
Stanford Reservoir

Stanford Reservoir © Richard Fray

Grid Ref: SP 605 808 (OS Landranger 140)

Stanford Reservoir straddles the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, the larger part being in the latter county. It lies in the valley of the River Avon, just to the south of South Kilworth and about 7km south west of Lutterworth. The reservoir is owned by Severn Trent Water and a permit from them is required for access to the grounds of the reservoir, and the car park by the dam, off the minor road between South Kilworth and Stanford on Avon at SP 596 802. This can be obtained from Ian Martindale, Ranger, Visitor Experience Team, at Severn Trent Water, email:

The reservoir holds good numbers of wildfowl during the winter months, with Pochard, Tufted Duck and Ruddy Duck numbers being particularly notable. Goosanders are regular, and can reach high numbers at times. The reservoir also has a fairly large, and from within the grounds, easily-watched, winter gull roost, the numbers being bolstered recently by the opening of nearby Welford Tip. It is surprising, then, that the roost is very rarely watched.

  Stanford Reservoir © Jim Graham

Spring and autumn tern passage is always notable, in particular Black Terns which often visit in good numbers. Several rare terns have been recorded: the reservoir produced Leicestershire's first Caspian and Whiskered Terns, as well as two White-winged Black Terns in the 1970s. Large flocks of Swifts, Swallows and martins also congregate over the water on migration.

Wader passage is largely dependent on water levels - when the level is low, areas of exposed mud appear towards the inflow and in the bays on the Northants shore. Whilst the habitat is only suitable fairly infrequently, the reservoir has held rare waders including two of the county's three Lesser Yellowlegs, and the only Wilson's Phalarope.

The breeding season can be a little quiet, although a few declining species, such as Turtle Dove and Grasshopper Warbler, retain small populations. Several species of warbler breed in the scrub, hedges and trees surrounding the reservoir. Hobbies regularly breed nearby, and can sometimes be seen during the summer and on passage hunting over the water.

Over the years Stanford has amassed an impressive list of rare birds, which, in addition to these already mentioned, has recently included the county's first Icterine Warbler, as well as Great White Egret, Spotted Crake, Gannet and Golden Oriole.

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