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BirdWatching Sites

An Interactive Guide to Birdwatching Sites in the North East of England

Big Waters – NWT Reserve

A popular nature reserve, on the outskirts of Newcastle, which is managed by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and a dedicated team of volunteer wardens. Big Waters is a large subsidence pond with reed beds, farmland and some woodland along the outskirts. Access to the western section of the reserve is restricted to NWT members. Here there are two locked hides, which provide a great view of the pond and the surrounding habitat.

Adjacent to the main bird hide, there is a well-established feeding station, which is home to a small colony of Tree Sparrows and a wide variety of woodland birds. Northumberland’s first Pine Bunting was recorded at this site in 1990, which attracted a great deal of attention and brought Twitchers from all over the UK. NWT members can obtain keys to access the bird hides for a small charge. There is no public access to these hides.

The east of the reserve is managed by Newcastle City Council as a recreation area. Visitors can follow a nature trail, which extends from the car park, to the eastern end of the pond and onto Bridge Street (B1318), or to paths, that take visitors, behind the fields at the back of the pond. During the winter, Greylag, Pink Feet and at times White-fronted Geese can be found in these fields.

A Tree Sparrow

Big Waters has over the years, attracted a huge range of bird species and is famous for its comfy and well maintained bird hides and feeding station. The site is especially popular Nov-Feb, as large numbers of wildfowl come for the winter. Species to watch out for at this time include Bewick and Whooper Swans, Bean and White-fronted Geese, Goldeneye, Goosander, Smew, Teal and Wigeon.

A Black Tern at Big Waters by M.P.Frankis in May 2016

In May 2016 a group of Black Terns stayed for a few hours and in July the same year; a Caspian Tern was recorded passing through. A Green-winged Teal was also found at this site in 2014; and it provided great views to the left of the reserve.

A visit to Big Waters is definitely recommended and is surely a highlight in any birders calendar.

County

Tyne & Wear, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Map Reference

NZ 227 734

Habitats

  • Wetland
  • Woodland
  • Farmland

Access

The reserve is suitable for accompanied wheelchairs.
A downloadable access sheet is available from the NWT website at www.nwt.org.uk

Facilities

There are two locked bird hides to the west of the reserve. Members of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust can obtain keys for a small charge. Please contact the NWT on (0191) 284 6884 or email mail@northwt.org.uk . There is no public access to these hides. There are no toilets available, and the nearest shops are in Brunswick or Seaton Burn.

Parking

There is free parking available.