Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre
01206 738172

Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park

A wetland site of international importance for wildfowl. Up to 40,000 ducks, swans and geese visit each year. Excellent bird watching opportunities and fabulous views over the reservoir.


Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park
Church Rd,
A static map of Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park

Know before you go

25 hectares

Parking information

Large free on site car park

Bicycle parking


Grazing animals

Sheep grazing from September-October

Walking trails

Various routes around the reserve and reservoir, please call in to the centre and ask for details.


Some walking trails are wheelchair friendly. A wheelchair and electric buggy are available for use. 


No dogs permitted

Please note that dogs are not permitted on the reserve or inside the Nature Discovery Centre.

Assistance dogs are allowed on the site.



Visitor centre
Bird hides
Picnic area
Accessible toilet
Baby changing facilities
Outdoor play area
Disabled parking
Accessible trails

When to visit

Opening times

Abberton Nature Discovery Centre is open 7 days a week.

Winter opening hours:
10am – 4pm, 1 November – 10 February.

Summer opening hours:
10am – 5pm, 11 February – 31 October.

Christmas opening hours:
Christmas Eve 10am – 2pm, Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve 10am – 2pm. 

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

The huge expanse of Essex & Suffolk Water's Abberton Reservoir is one of Europe's top wetland sites. It is of international importance as a safe haven for wild ducks, swans and other water birds, whether resident, passing through on migration or over-wintering. It lies close to east-coast migration routes and, with its surrounding envelope of pasture and tree plantations, is a welcome sight to tired birds. Up to 40,000 ducks, swans and geese visit each year. The top seven species are Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Coot and Black-headed Gull and they cannot fail to impress. Added to this there can be hundreds of Shoveler, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Pintail and Great Crested Grebe.

In the spring there is the unusual sight of Cormorants nesting in trees, one of the few places in Britain where they do this. They began in 1981 and have continued ever since. Late summer brings the spectacle of large numbers of swans and ducks moulting - replacing their worn-out feathers - on the reservoir. Safety is vital while they do so because they replace all their flight feathers at once, which means that for a while they are unable to fly. In dry winters water levels fall temporarily to expose large expanses of mud. This attracts large numbers of passage waders such as ruff and spotted redshank from the coast. The surrounding farmland, too, is of value to birds. In winter thousands of golden plover may be seen there, along with small numbers of migratory geese and swans. For the keen birdwatcher the reservoir boasts an impressive list of rarities visiting briefly in winter or passing through on migration.

Visitors can enjoy walks on our nature reserve, whilst taking in stunning panoramic views across the reservoir from the three accessible hides.

Contact us

Essex Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01206 738172
Abberton shop


The Nature Discovery Centre has a fantastic gift shop, with a large selection of binoculars and telescopes, eco gifts, bird food and feeders, gifts, greetings cards, cookware, biscuits, packaged snacks and ice creams.

Abberton Middleditch Wild Play Area

Photo: Carol Durrell - River Photography

Middleditch wild play area

The Middleditch wild play area is ideal for younger visitors to explore the outdoors.

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