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Staines Reservoirs

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Photo by htcdude
Photo by htcdude

England, London


[edit] Overview

This group of reservoirs forms one of the premier birding sites in the London area with large numbers of regularly wintering and passage waterfowl and a list of rarities unsurpassed in the region.

Staines Reservoir covers 170ha and is divided into north and south basins by a causeway which provides excellent viewing across both waters. There are concrete banks and the water depth averages about 10m but once every few years one is drained leaving muddy margins, islands and shallow water that are ideal for waders and other birds.

Around the reservoir is rough grassland with patches of hawthorn and bramble scrub that provide food and shelter for a few breeding birds and attract passerine migrants.

The two Staines basins lie to the east of the A3044 and to the west is the King George VI Reservoir, a much larger water dating from the Second World War. The birds are similar to those found at Staines but access is limited to those with special permits to census waterfowl.

Photo by htcdude
Photo by htcdude

[edit] Birds

[edit] Notable Species

Staines Reservoir is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is of national importance for its wintering waterfowl. Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail are all regular as well as Tufted Duck, Common Pochard and Common Goldeneye. Ruddy Duck winters here with well over 100 present in some years and Goosander occurs in small numbers. Greater Scaup is recorded most winters but Smew is seldom seen.

Brent Goose is an occasional passage visitor as is Garganey and other waterfowl to be recorded here include Black Brant, Green-winged Teal, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck, Common Eider, scoters and Long-tailed Duck. Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe can be seen all year but in autumn this reservoir becomes the most regular site in the London area for Black-necked Grebe. Slavonian Grebe and Red-necked Grebe are recorded annually, Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver and Red-throated Diver have all occurred and Shag sometimes join the regular Great Cormorant.

The five commoner gulls can all be seen at Staines for much of the year with Little Gull regular during both passage periods. Kittiwake is more or less annual and Mediterranean Gull is increasingly seen, Sabine's Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull and Ring-billed Gull have all been recorded. Skuas, including Long-tailed Skua, have occurred as well as all three phalaropes and even Leach's Storm-petrel.

Terns appear on both passages with regular Common Tern, Arctic Tern and Black Tern and Common Tern breed on artificial islands. Several rarer terns have been seen including Sooty Tern, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern and White-winged Tern.

The waders seen at Staines vary widely with the greatest variety and numbers occurring when water levels are lowered. However, Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Golden Plover, Northern Lapwing, Dunlin, Common Redshank, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper usually put in an appearance in small numbers.

When drained, the reservoir can attract Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper, Ruff and several other species such as godwits, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot and Sanderling. This area also has an enviable reputation for turning up real rarities among the waders with records of North American species such as Long-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper and Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk is now a regular hunter over the area as well as Common Kestrel and Northern Hobby is a frequent summer and passage visitor. Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are rare, rarer still are harriers, Osprey and Northern Goshawk.

Ring-necked Parakeet is now a permanent resident of the area but there are few landbirds of interest during the summer. However, Swift, hirundines and a range of other passerines occur on passage. Pipits, wagtails, chats, warblers and flycatchers all occur with occasional reports of scarcer species such as Blue-headed Wagtail, Woodlark, Black Redstart and Snow Bunting.

[edit] Rarities

Vagrant landbirds recorded at Staines over the years have included Alpine Swift, European Roller and European Bee-eater, Hoopoe and Wryneck, Tawny Pipit and Richard's Pipit.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Goosander, Ruddy Duck, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Tern, Ring-necked Parakeet, Eurasian Skylark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Reed Bunting

[edit] Other Wildlife

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[edit] Site Information

During passage periods Staines Reservoir is certainly one of the best birding localities in the London area and virtually anything can turn up.

[edit] History and Use

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[edit] Areas of Interest

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[edit] Access and Facilities

The causeway between the two basins is a public footpath with open access at all times but there is no access to other parts of the shoreline.

The reservoir is situated north of the A30 to the east of the junction with the A308 at Staines. The easiest way to reach it is to take the M25, leaving it eastwards at junction 14 onto the A3113 to Heathrow. Turn right at the next roundabout taking you onto the A3044 to Staines, left at the traffic-lights then right at the mini-roundabout. 500m further on is the car-park for the reservoirs.

There is no authorised access to the King George VI Reservoir.

[edit] Other Sites

Just to the west of the main Staines roundabout and north of the A30 is Staines Moor, Map an area of rough, wet grassland with patches of scrub. Redshank and Northern Lapwing have bred here and may sometimes be present in summer and breeding passerines include Skylark, Reed Warbler, both whitethroats and Blackcap.

Passage waders such as Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Golden Plover can sometimes be seen, especially when the area remains wet for some time.

The "moor" has numerous footpaths and is heavily used by dog-walkers but is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its flora, unusual in the London area.

[edit] Contact Details

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[edit] External Links

Content and images originally posted by Steve


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