Wintering waterbirds

Look closely at the rivers and the fields nearby and you'll find lots of common and rare wetland birds, thanks to the work of our rangers and partners. On the restored seventeenth century water meadows we’ve created a spectacular environment for water birds - from Kingfishers to occasional Ospreys.

If you look closely at the ducks on the rivers you might spot the brown heads of wigeon among the regular mallards. Together with team, these are winter visitors who add variety to the heron, egrets, swans  and other water birds. Be sure to bring your binoculars.

A grey heron fishing
A grey heron fishing
A grey heron fishing

These strange looking birds are easier to spot in flight, when they look almost pre-historic. They are superb fisherman and can be spotted throughout the year at Sherborne Park.

Little Egrets

A little egret at Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate
Egret in flight
A little egret at Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate

If you spot a strange white bird looking like something from a Egyptian drawing, it is likely to be the little egret. Looking like a small heron with all white plumage, they were once very rare visitors but can now be found fairly commonly in southern England. This is possibly due to raising temperatures due to climate change. As well at Little Egrets, Sherborne Park also receives occasional visits from the rarer Great White Egret.

Kingfishers

Kingfishers can be seeing, often as a flash of blue by the warter's edge
Kingfishers can be seeing, often as a flash of blue by the warter's edge
Kingfishers can be seeing, often as a flash of blue by the warter's edge

These beautiful and iconic little birds are still considered a rare gem, and we love to see them flying. For the best chance of spotting them yourself, we recommend visiting the watermeadows.

Wigeon and teal

Winter visitors, a flock of Wigeon in flight
Winter visitors, a flock of Wigeon in flight
Winter visitors, a flock of Wigeon in flight

In the winter the Sherborne brook becomes home for wigeon and teal. Wigeon are often visiting from Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia and teal from the Baltic and Siberia. 

A brief history of the water meadows

Water meadows were once a vital part of the farming landscape. In the seventeenth century, farmers would base all their year-round activity on the rise and fall of the river.

When the water ran into the meadows and surrounding flood plains, it would bring with it nutrient rich silt, which was great for local wildlife.

With the development of artificial fertilisers and new imported food supplies after the Second World War however, water meadows and wetlands became redundant and the homes of water-loving plants, mammal, insects and birds came under threat.

Sluice gates control the flow onto the water meadows
Sluice gates control the flow onto the water meadows
Sluice gates control the flow onto the water meadows

Our Work

As part of our conservation work, we’re restoring these natural habitats to allow nature to thrive.

Rangers at Sherborne Park have reinstated the historic water meadows along the River Windrush, creating a fantastic environment for water birds including Herons, Egrets, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks and Kingfishers, and even the occasional visits from rare Ospreys, White Storks, and Great White Egrets.

Have you spotted one of our rarer visitors? Or want to share a great shot of our regular favourites? We’d love to see what wetland birds you’ve discovered on your visit to Sherborne Park. Find us @NTLodgePark or find our Facebook page by searching ‘NT Lodge Park and Sherborne Park Estate’.