Grid ref: TQ 350 892 (click for o/s map)
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This nature reserve has been developed around some of Thames Water's supply reservoirs in the Lea Valley. They have been improved for wildlife such as by planting trees and aquatic vegetation; the 19th century Marine Engine House has been adapted to serve as a visitor centre, and also has a swift tower; 13 miles of pathway have been laid out; and the Coppermill Tower to the south provides a high-level viewing platform.
Its birdlife is spectacular, and not just in London terms. Around 2,000 tufted duck gather in late summer, followed in winter by large numbers of pochard, gadwall and shoveler, and an occasional scaup. Having said that though, these birds are distributed across a large area of water, and sometimes you have to seek them out.
On the wooded islands there is a population of nesting cormorants and also a large heronry. Other breeding birds include kingfishers, little egrets, cetti's warblers, and both great crested and little grebes.
Peregrine falcons fly through now and again, and a variety of ducks, waders and songbirds stop off on migration.
The reservoirs just south of the visitor centre are the oldest and the most interesting for wildlife, with natural banks and mature marginal vegetation, that has been supplemented by new plantings.
The birdlife should get even better as these plantings mature, with the diving ducks that predominate now being joined by other species such as dabbling ducks that appreciate aquatic vegetation.
Main entrance on Forest Road (A503). Limited parking on-site. Cycle/pedestrian entrances from Blackhorse Lane and Coppermill Lane. SatNav: N17 9NH.
10 minutes' walk from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road stations (Victoria line tube and overground) and on bus routes 123 and 230.
Open 9.30am–5pm April to September, otherwise until 4pm.
Spring and early summer for breeding birds; late summer through the winter for wildfowl.
No dogs except assistance dogs allowed on site.
PLease respect other users of the site – it is an operational site for Thames Water and also a recreational fishery. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.