Nature reserve

Nature reserve

Come and take a seat in the huge bird hide for an up close and personal encounter with wildlife – see how many of the 25 breeding bird species you can spot!

Out and about on the reserve there’s even more to see, because over 500 varieties of plants and one quarter of Britain’s butterfly species have been recorded here.

The WaterWorks Centre nature reserve has become a unique wildlife haven and a fantastic area for all the family just a few miles from central London. Previously known as the Essex Filter Beds, over 150 years ago it began supplying the surrounding boroughs with much needed clean water.

At the WaterWorks Centre you’ll find a fascinating insight into the nature and history of the filter beds too. You can also take a self-guided trail around the nature reserve which explains all about its animals and features – just download a copy below.

Wildlife at the nature reserve


The WaterWorks Centre nature reserve has one of the largest bird hides in London offering close-up views across a series of filter beds, each with its own unique character.

In spring and autumn waders on passage through Lee Valley drop into the site. Common and Green Sandpiper are regular visitors, whilst Wood Sandpiper and Blacktailed Godwit have recently been recorded.

The secluded beds are a fantastic place to get up-close to Teal and Snipe and in summer Pochard and Little Grebe breed here. A variety of wildfowl including Gadwall and Shoveler can be viewed from the central hide.

Sand Martin’s are regular summer visitors and use the artificial nesting towers to breed. An artificial Kingfisher bank has also been installed and there are superb views of Moorhen, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck.

Certain beds have been allowed to form dense scrub and are home to species such as Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, whilst Sedge and Reed Warbler nest amongst the reeds. Listen out for Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker. The flood relief channel adjacent to the WaterWorks is also an excellent place to view bats foraging in the warm summer evenings.


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