Watching the water birds at Charlecote

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Bring your binoculars and take a stroll along the banks of the rivers in the parkland. As the river Avon and little river Dene weave their way through Charlecote's parkland, they play host to an incredibly diverse population of waterfowl at all times of the year.

The heron's two-metre wingspan
Charlecote’s most iconic bird is the huge grey heron and our heronry is one of the largest in Warwickshire.

The adults return to their tree-top nests in West Park in February and until June you can regularly see them flying in with food or leaving to fish.

In July the young disperse, followed by the adults in August and September. Providing there isn’t a prolonged freeze, a few birds will remain in the area throughout the winter. You can often see them poised on the riverbank.

A flash of kingfisher blue
Another river bird that always excites those lucky enough to see it is the kingfisher. There's at least one pair usually nesting somewhere on the riverbanks.

Search carefully and quietly and you may glimpse one perched on an overhanging branch, watching for fish.

Our resident swans
Waterfowl are the most easily watched birds. Mallard are present throughout the year and a few pairs nest. Usually there are two, sometimes three, pairs of mute swans as well —one pair on the river and one on the lake – as well as a few Canada and greylag geese.

One or two pairs of coots and moorhens regularly nest here, either on the lake or riverbanks. A pair of tufted ducks is often present, though nesting is rare.

Cormorants are increasing along the Avon and they can often be seen fishing or perched in bankside trees.

Cold-weather visitors
Winter can bring a flock of wigeon to the river, along with a few teal and one or two little grebes. Some linger into April, but do not stay to nest.

Less often something rarer, such as goosander or a little egret, puts in an appearance.

Watch closely
Standing on the parterre terrace in summer, or walking along the riverside path in Places Meadow, you can sometimes hear the rhythmic songs of reed and sedge warblers or catch sight of the black head of a reed bunting in the bankside vegetation.

Sometimes, especially around the weir, the stunning grey wagtail, with its grey back and sulphur-yellow belly, might be seen.

What did you see today?
There's always something of interest for serious birdwatchers or families with children of all ages. Let us know on twitter or facebook about anything you spot on your visit.

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