Rye Meads 

This reserve is managed jointly by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. It forms part of the Lee Valley Special Protection Area (SPA). The reserve includes reedbeds, lakes, flood meadows and wet woodland.


Common Tern

In summer you can’t miss the noisy Common Tern colony that nests on rafts in front of the Gadwall Hide. The artificial nesting bank opposite the Kingfisher Hide can provide excellent views of nesting Kingfisher. In summer look out for nesting Kestrel, Reed Warbler and Long-tailed Tit.

In winter the lakes provide superb habitat for wildfowl including Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shoveler, whilst the wet scrapes are perfect for foraging Green Sandpiper. Look out for Bittern in the reedbeds during winter.

Otters are active around the reserve but as they’re nocturnal and extremely shy they’re difficult to spot. You may be able to spot the clues they leave behind such as their droppings called ‘spraints’. 

Water Buffalo and Konik Ponies which graze the wet meadows, helping the Wildlife Trust conserve rare plants such as Meadow Rue and keep them suitable for breeding wading birds such as Lapwing. 

Access information

The visitor centre and car park are open from10:00 –17:00 (or dusk if earlier) every day except Chistmas Day and Boxing Day. Car parking is free for RSPB members with a small charge for non-members. The trails and all nine hides have full or partial access for all.

Sat nav users should use postcode EN11 0GH.

Stanstead Innings 

Bee Orchid

Stanstead Innings is owned and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. Reedbed improvement works have taken place alongside ongoing habitat enhancements across the site. The gently sloping shoreline and deeper water make this an interesting site to visit on its own or it can be combined with a visit to Rye Meads Nature Reserve, situated just across the road.

The open water areas, viewed from the Shoveler Hide offer excellent views of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shoveler. Species such as Black-necked Grebe are occasional visitors to the sailing lake. From the Sandpiper Hide look out over the shallow areas for Lapwing, Green Sandpiper and Teal. In late spring the wildflower meadows come alive with a burst of Bee Orchid and Ragged Robin. Summer sees the arrival of many warblers including Reed and Sedge Warbler. 

Access information

Follow the circular walk to take in both hides and wildflower meadows. This accessible route links into the west side of Rye Meads Nature Reserve where there’s access to two additional bird hides. A small car park is located off Marsh Lane, Stanstead Abbotts.



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