An old gravel pit transformed into a haven for breeding and wading birds
Summer Leys is an example of how to create the right conditions for a variety of wildlife. This important wetland within the Upper Nene Valley Special Protection Area is made up of flooded gravel pits, flood meadows, species-rich neutral grassland and mature hedges. Wading birds use the scrape and the shallow lake margins. Oystercatcher, ringed plover, little ringed plover and redshank stay to breed, whilst whimbrel, turnstone and common sandpiper pass through during migration. One of the most obvious breeding bird species is the common tern; numerous pairs nest in a colony on the islands where they are safe from predators.
During the winter large numbers and a wide variety of ducks can be seen, including teal, wigeon, shoveler, pochard and tufted duck. They are joined by large numbers of golden plover, sometimes over a thousand, which roost on the islands and fly out to nearby fields to feed.
This video shot by Graham Barker shows just how much birdlife can be seen in early winter.
Sixteen species of dragonflies and damselflies have been recorded. Summer Leys is one of the best places in Northamptonshire to see the uncommon hairy dragonfly, a species that colonised the county in the late 1990s. Look for them on the edges of Marigold Pond from mid-May to the end of June.
At Kim's Corner you will find a fragment of species-rich neutral grassland, once widespread in the Nene Valley, but now limited to a few sites. This area is a good place to watch butterflies such as common blue and the rarer brown argus.
Lots of lovely photos of the wildlife at Summer Leys can be seen on Oliver Andrews Flickr page.
The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Wetland, Woodland
- Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, Golden Plover, Common Frog, Common Toad, Grass Snake, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Grey Heron, Coot, Red Fox, Great Burnet, Lady's Bedstraw, Bird's-foot-trefoil, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Hairy dragonfly, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Tern, Swift, Swallow, House Martin
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.