Milton Keynes may not seem the best urban birding location in the UK, but we have our fair share of interesting places for the birds (sadly many have declined over the years through neglect or pressure from the growing town). So here are my 5 top birding spots in Milton Keynes. A few details about local wildlife hotspots to be found in (and around) Milton Keynes.
As you will see they are mainly lakes, Milton Keynes has a lot of lakes of various sizes, so I’ve added Little Linford wood in to break up the lake theme, and each site title can be clicked on to take you to a Google map of the area (I hope) and so onto my 5 Top Birding Spots of Milton Keynes.
5 Top Birding Spots in Milton Keynes
Manor Farm – Now Known as the Floodplain Forest
Currently Manor Farm (where the majority of posts on this blog are located) is the premier location in Milton Keynes for waders, and passage birds (it is currently no.1 in my 5 Top Birding Spots in Milton Keynes). Created from a recent gravel workings the area is a complex of small interconnected lakes, and pools, fed by the river Ouse. You can read all about it in more detail in my Introducing the Patch pages. The nature reserve is covered under Main Pits and Stilt Pits.
|Manor Farm – Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve|
no.1 in my 5 Top Birding Spots in Milton Keynes
|Banded Demoiselle (Willen Lake, MIlton Keynes)|
Willen lake used to be THE number one location for birds in Milton Keynes. The nature reserve on the north lake used to have a changeable water level, that in peak wader migration would be lowered to attract passage birds. Real rarities like Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern (2 at once) and Black-winged Stilt (tried to breed) have turned up, and Spotted Crake was almost annual.
Then they built the road through the middle and it all changed.
The water level is now no longer changed and the birds don’t turn up as much as they used to. It still holds the odd good bird but not remotely as it used to. The South lake gull roost which used to be huge has diminished, probably due to the increase in water sports. Sadly there is also a lack of people watching the lakes now, regular birders having moved on to better, less disturbed areas.
Parking however is now a costly affair, the main car park by the water sports and family area charge quite a bit (as does the one behind the peace pagoda), but there are two free parking areas, one opposite the sewage works and one by Willen sports pavilion, although for a new visitor it could be tricky to locate.
|5 Top Birding Sites in Milton Keynes|
Linford Reserve (Permit only) – Now Known as Linford Lakes Nature Reserve
This little oasis of a nature reserve, run by the parks trust is actually under threat, the local council in their wisdom is building houses closer and closer and wants to turn the surrounding land into a country park, so rather than the rugged farmland that has attracted Short-eared owls will be a manicured haven for dog walkers and youths!
Sometimes we really do need to allow nature to do as it wishes.
|Caldecotte Lake Pub|
The largest of the Milton Keynes lakes. Located in the South-east of the city, it is a huge body of water that now holds a decent Gull roost. The lakes often have interesting ducks and other water birds including: Great Northern Diver, Red Necked Grebe and Slavonian Grebe and has even had real rarities like a Spotted Sandpiper once! Personally I probably know this lake the least of all, as I have never lived that side of the town, but there are good birds, butterflies and other wildlife to be found here. Just look at Holding Moments blog all about the lake and it’s residents.
What I do know is that there is a great pub on the lake (semi-newly built but looks like a converted windmill). They do some nice food. And you can look out over part of the lake which offers some nice views with your pint.
The wood is home to a great array of butterflies with Purple Emperor;White admiral ; and in the past wood white all distinct possibilities. Dragonfly numbers are also really good here and you can find huge swarms some years at the right time. Bird wise, the woods used to hold all three woodpeckers (although I’m not sure about lesser anymore); and does hold woodcock at the right time, as well as tree sparrow and other finches and buntings in the winter.
Other sites, that did not make the 5 Top Birding Spots in Milton Keynes list, but are worth a look:
- Gayhurst Quarry (Another good water body).
- Stone Pit Park (great for Butterflies and Dragonflies).
- Walton Balancing Lakes (Near the OU, good for Dragonflies and Water Rail).
- Linford Wood (a small piece of ancient woodland in the heart of the town, often has Tawny Owls calling).
- Howe Park Wood (another piece of ancient wood great for rare butterflies and Dragonflies)
- Blue Lagoon (a deep lake by the rubbish tip, great for gulls, butterflies and dragonflies)
If you can visit one of these sites then please do. And if you do, let me know what you see. They can turn up some wonderful wildlife and it is always nice to hear about local sightings.
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