Grid Ref: SP
605 808 (OS Landranger 140)
Stanford Reservoir straddles the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire,
the larger part being in the latter county. It lies in the valley of the
River Avon, just to the south of South Kilworth and about 7km south west
of Lutterworth. The reservoir is owned by Severn Trent Water and is managed
by the Northants Wildlife Trust. A permit, available from the Trust, is
required for access to the grounds of the reservoir, and the car park
by the dam, off the minor road between South Kilworth and Stanford on
Avon at SP
596 802. However there is a car park at the inflow (north east) end
611 811, accessible from the minor road between South Kilworth and
Welford, and part of the reservoir can be viewed from here without entering
the grounds. Maybe because of its location, being shared between two counties,
Stanford does not get the attention it deserves, and is consequently rather
The reservoir holds good numbers of wildfowl during the winter months, with
Pochard, Tufted Duck and Ruddy Duck numbers being particularly notable.
Goosanders are regular, and can reach high numbers at times. The reservoir
also has a fairly large, and from within the grounds, easily-watched, winter
gull roost, the numbers being bolstered recently by the opening of nearby
Welford Tip. It is surprising, then, that the roost is very rarely watched.
and autumn tern passage is always notable, in particular Black Terns which
often visit in good numbers. Several rare terns have been recorded: the
reservoir produced Leicestershire's first Caspian and Whiskered Terns,
as well as two White-winged Black Terns in the 1970s. Large flocks of
Swifts, Swallows and martins also congregate over the water on migration.
Wader passage is largely dependent on water levels - when the level is
low, areas of exposed mud appear towards the inflow and in the bays on
the Northants shore. Whilst the habitat is only suitable fairly infrequently,
the reservoir has held rare waders including two of the county's three
Lesser Yellowlegs, and the only Wilson's Phalarope.
The breeding season can be a little quiet, although a few declining species,
such as Turtle Dove and Grasshopper Warbler, retain small populations. Several
species of warbler breed in the scrub, hedges and trees surrounding the
reservoir. Hobbies regularly breed nearby, and can sometimes be seen during
the summer and on passage hunting over the water.
Over the years Stanford has amassed an impressive list of rare birds,
which, in addition to these already mentioned, has recently included the
county's first Icterine Warbler, as well as Great White Egret, Spotted
Crake, Gannet and Golden Oriole.