Heysham Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationOn-site car park open during reserve opening times
There are a number of good footpaths around the reserve.
Reserve can still be accessed on foot during closed hours.
When to visit
Opening times9am-6pm or dusk.
Best time to visitYear-round
About the reserve
Step onto Heysham Nature Reserve during spring and summer and the birdsong is almost deafening. Meadow pipits, sedge warblers, whitethroats, chiffchaffs, greenfinches, linnets and grasshopper warblers are just a handful of the breeding species that add to the spectacular choir. In winter, water rails, snipe and woodcock patrol the water’s edge.
The reserve is also a hotspot for migrants, with impressive groups of willow warblers arriving during spring and thrush species taking their place come autumn. We have even recorded an amazing collection of rare birds at Heysham Nature Reserve, including wryneck (2000), night heron (1990), bee-eater (1984), serin (1990), woodchat shrike (1989), and at least ten yellow-browed warblers from Siberia. April and May are peak times for migrating birds, and are also when we carry out many of our important migration and ringing studies.
The reedbed, grassland and wetland habitats at Heysham Nature Reserve aren’t just good for birds. Gorse, hawthorn and other shrubs thrive alongside stunning wildflowers including yellow-wort and the dainty bee orchid. Stroll through the reserve on a sunny day and the grass erupts with clouds of colourful butterflies and day-flying moths that take advantage of this nectar buffet. Keep your eyes peeled for small skipper, grayling, common blue and small copper butterflies, as well as hundreds of five and six-spot burnet moths.
Dotty for dragonflies? Heysham Nature Reserve is home to 14 spectacular species including ruddy darter, emperor dragonfly and emerald damselfly.