Open every day 10am-5pm. (Closed Tuesdays)

There will be takeaway food and drink on offer and the toilets will be open. The following facilities will also be open - the gift shop (one way system in operation), the playground, the bird hides and the Brambley Hedge trail.

Please note face coverings must be worn within the Nature Discovery Centre.

Please read the Trust’s latest statement on COVID-19 here.

Thank you for your support and patience, we look forward to welcoming you back.

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.


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


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
No dogs currently permitted


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

When to visit

Opening times

10am-5pm Wednesday-Monday

Best time to visit

All year

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.

Essex & Suffolk Water’s reservoir enhancement project is well underway at Abberton Reservoir and making excellent progress. The concrete edge has been removed and a lot of re-profiling work has been done leaving shallow muddy margins and large areas of rough grassland. Visitors can still enjoy walks on the new Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve. There are stunning panoramic views across the reservoir and surrounding villages from the higher ground.

There are 2 hides overlooking the reservoir, and one in the new woodland. Staff and volunteers are happy to explain the reservoir enhancement scheme to visitors, so do please call in and see us.

Contact us

Essex Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01206 738172

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)
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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