I have circled on the map below the 5 key sites for birds and wildlife in the Hampton area, these are the sites I will visit most often and where most of my records will come from. To give you some detail on the sites, I have given a brief description below the map of each one.
- 1 – Serpentine Lake – The biggest lake in the Hamptons development, Serpentine lake has key pieces of habitat for specific species. It has a gravel spit in the middle which attracts birds you won’t find anywhere else in the area such as Waders & Terns. The Lake is also where most species of wildfowl can be found including the resident geese which occupy this lake during the day. The Lake has a Reedbed fringe on the Northern side as well as a reed lined stream leading off to the south. These reedbeds are key pieces of habitat for migrant birds such as Cetti’s and Reed warblers.
- 2 – St. James’ Pond – This is my most watched spot in Hampton (mainly because my flat overlooks it) and it can hold a surprising variety of species. As well as being home to the grebes (Great Crested & Little), it’s also the home of at least 1 resident pair of Cetti’s Warblers. St. James’ Pond is connected to Serpentine Lake by a man-made canal, the chosen hunting ground of the resident Kingfisher as well as the ‘motorway’ for the Common Terns which are numerous here in the Summer. The pond is surrounded by mixed woodland on the south side where you can find most of the woodland species of Britain.
- 3 – Brick Works Lake – This Lake is the largest remaining lake from the historical brick works upon which Hampton was built. It’s almost inaccessible to the public from Hampton itself, except for in a few set locations, which means that constant observation can be tricky. The lake is publicly accessible however from the main road to Yaxley. The lake is a good place to find winter ducks such as Goldeneye and Pochard. The Lake is also the roosting place of a large portion of the c.250 Greylag Geese which are resident in Hampton.
- 4 – St. James Woods Nature Trail – To encourage the residents of Hampton to preserve the natural wildlife, the developers included this piece of land which has intertwining gravel paths which encompass a series of small ponds. The habitat here is much more untouched than the other green areas of Hampton and as such it has longer grasses, more berry bushes and denser shrubs to house the smaller birds. It’s the only place I know of in the Hamptons where you can find Stonechat, Linnet and other similar species. The ponds have never held anything for me but at the right water levels I could see how it might attract unusual species.
- 5 – Hampton Nature Reserve – This 300 acre piece of habitat is managed by the Froglife charity. It’s completely out of bounds for the public due to it’s status as a ‘Site of special scientific interest’. The reason for this is that it holds Europe’s largest population of Great Crested Newts among other rare and precious wildlife such as Stoneworts and the only known colony of Grizzled Skipper Butterflies in Peterborough. It’s a vast network of over 340 individual ponds making it ideal for Reptiles and Amphibians alike. The reserve is covered in dense grasslands and I’d imagine, given access, would turn up some amazing bird species too!