Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre
Know before you go
Parking informationLarge free on site car park
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.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen Daily 9am - 5pm (November, December & January 9am - 4pm) Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day
Best time to visitAll 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.
We serve a selection of sandwiches, paninis, toasties, children’s lunches, delicious handmade cakes; including gluten and dairy free, aswell as vegan options, cream teas, toasted teacakes and seasonal bakes.
Open daily, serving from 9.00am - 4.30pm with hot food cooked until 3.30pm.
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.
Middleditch wild play area
The Middleditch wild play area is ideal for younger visitors to explore the outdoors.
Read our blogs
Assistant Ranger Blog Autumn 2019
My name is Katie and I am the new Assistant Ranger here at Abberton reservoir nature reserve. I love all wildlife, especially Bats! I am…
Bug Bonanza at Abberton
Lots of butterflies, bees and other insects to be seen around Abberton Reserve at the moment especially on the wildflower areas and…
Spring at Abberton
Spring is arriving at Abberton, albeit slowly. The weather is cloudy and blustery. There is the beginnings of leaves on Hawthorn and…