Previously quarried for sand and gravel, Croxall Lakes now provides a home for a wide range of wintering and breeding birds
The two main lakes attract a substantial number of wildfowl and waders during the autumn. The numbers of breeding birds has gradually increased since restoration works were completed.
If you visit the reserve between November and January you may well see short-eared owls flying low above the areas of tall grasses. This large bird hunts for small mammals and is not commonly seen in Staffordshire.
Otter signs such as footprints and spraints are commonly found on the reserve's riverbanks. However, this shy mammal is very difficult to spot.
Road to recovery
Croxall Lakes nature reserve is dominated by two large lakes situated at the joining of the River Trent and its tributaries, the Tame and the Mease. The site was formerly quarried for sand and gravel and is part of a complex of restored wetlands in the Trent Valley flooplain.
Since taking ownership of the reserve the Trust has carried out a number of projects to restore the site as a wildlife haven. Previous works include the excavation of scrapes for wading birds and the creation of shallows and reedbeds on the two main lakes. These provide cover and nesting areas for breeding birds.
More recently the Trust has undertaken extensive works along the river bank. Parts of the banks have been re-profiled and the resulting soil deposited into the lake to make more shallows and a larger reedbed. The project, known as 'river braiding', creates a diversity of river features with still pools, shallow riffles and gravel islands. This helps to restore natural river processes and better wildlife habitat.
Dabbling ducks, wildfowl and waders
The reserve attracts large numbers of wildfowl and wading birds. Why not take advantage of the reserve’s two bird hides? One of the hides gives a great view across the 26 acre main lake where, during the winter, you will see a number of different species of wildfowl such as wigeon, teal or possibly smew, not commonly seen in Staffordshire.
The other hide looks out across the reserve’s other smaller lake and main wildlife scrape. During the spring and summer months, look out (or listen!) for ground nesting wading birds such as lapwing, oystercatcher and redshank.
Not just birds!
Wetlands are not just good places to see bird life. Otter signs are frequently found on the river corridor, there has been the occasional water vole sign and harvest mice are building their nests in the areas of reed near the car park. Wetlands are also great places to see insects, with the scrapes providing habitat for a number of different species of dragonfly and damselfly.
How to get there
From Rugeley follow the A513 passing through Kings Bromley and Alrewas. Continue along this road passing over the A38. After approximately a mile you will pass over the River Tame, which forms the western boundary of the reserve. The entrance to the nature reserve is the second track on your left.
Parking & Access
There is a small parking area at the entrance to the reserve.
There is a surfaced access track that runs adjacent to the railway track up to the bird hide, with views across the main lake. From here you can walk under the small railway bridge to the eastern side of the reserve to the second bird hide.
The terrain is even and there are ramps to both bird hides. The route to the eastern side is unsurfaced and the ground is particularly uneven through the woodland to the hide. All of the main access points have kissing gates and the one at the main entrance is wide enough for wheelchairs.
106 acres / 43 hectares
Other Reserves Nearby
Whilst you're in the area, why not explore a few more of our nature reserves?
Do’s & Dont’s
Dog walkers & bird watchers
We want all our visitors to enjoy our nature reserves - whether you are visiting to watch birds, look for plants and insects or just want a quiet walk. Uncontrolled dogs can be particularly disruptive to wildlife, especially ground nesting birds. At Croxall Lakes we have allocated some areas where people can walk dogs without causing excessive distrubance, areas where access with dogs is restricted and even areas where there is no public access at all.
By doing this we aim to protect wildlife whilst still allow people to enjoy their visit. We ask all our visitors to behave responsibly and with consideration to other users and adhere to any restrictions indicated on site.