A lit­tle-known Lee Val­ley site with lots to of­fer

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - ABI­GAIL HAMIL­TON-THOMP­SON

STANSTEAD IN­NINGS IS an ap­prox­i­mately 50-hectare site on the east­ern edge of Hert­ford­shire and very close to the Es­sex bor­der. It is sit­u­ated along­side the hugely pop­u­lar Rye Meads RSPB re­serve, and is there­fore largely over­looked by visitors, but it has plenty of avian in­ter­est in it­self. Now part of the Lee Val­ley Coun­try Park, the for­mer gravel pits here have been flooded. Stanstead In­nings en­com­passes three wild flower mead­ows, a wet wood­land area and three lakes. De­spite the A414 by­pass in­tru­sion, and the nearby Rye Meads Treat­ment Works, the site en­tices many win­ter­ing wild­fowl and mi­grant birds. Of the three lakes, Ab­botts Lake is the largest, of which the north­ern end is de­voted to sail­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, but the south­ern side has been safe­guarded as a refuge area for wildlife, bar the oc­ca­sional fish­er­man, of course. As Stanstead In­nings is ad­ja­cent to Rye Meads, the chances of see­ing the elu­sive King­fisher out fish­ing are quite high. The location is fairly peace­ful, save the oc­ca­sional dog walker, and you’re highly likely to have use of any of the three bird hides to your­self. Also, run­ning along­side the site is the River Lee, which runs from Lu­ton to the River Thames. This river at­tracts many wa­ter­birds such as Great Crested and Lit­tle Grebe, Tufted Duck (pic­tured above) and many Canada Geese.

Green Sand­piper

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