What might you see along the Stour?
The Stour Valley Local Nature Reserve has a wide range of wildlife just on your doorstep waiting to be discovered.
What could you see during your visit?
We are privileged to be home to a breeding pair of otters along the 2 ½-mile stretch of river. These normally shy creatures have become tolerant of human activity and you may be lucky to enjoy watching them for a time whilst they go about their day-to-day life, hunting for fish, playing and grooming. Tell-tale signs on the river include a loud splash, a trail of bubbles or a slight bow wave as the otter moves just below the surface.
There are several pairs of kingfisher that call the river home, during breeding season they will pair up however, once the chicks have fledged they will go back to a solitary life. Our most iconic river bird, often people only get a brief glimpse of a blue flash as they fly up and down the river but with patience you can be rewarded with a dive.
A common sight along the river banks, the grey heron is instantly recognisable, but it is not just fish these birds will hunt. You may see them out in our meadows where they will also look for small mammals or frogs to catch!
About half the size of a grey heron, this all-white bird has long black legs with bright yellow feet and can often be seen feeding alongside the grey heron here at the Stour.
Our largest native snake, growing over a meter in length, has a distinctive yellow and black ‘collar’ behind the head. They feed on amphibians and fish so have been seen swimming in the river – and occasionally in people’s ponds - hunting for their food. They are not venomous but can still give a nasty bite but will rather play dead of threatened, as a final attempt to dissuade a potential predator they will emit a foul-smelling liquid.
An uncommon species in the UK but very abundant here on the Stour. Easily recognisable by the flat-white ‘hairy’ legs.
This species was almost wiped out back in the 1970’s due to Dutch elm disease destroying the trees upon which its larva feed. A Schedule 5 species and a UK BAP priority species, it is great to know we have colonies here on our reserve.
A Schedule 1 species, this bird may not look particularly interesting but when you hear its loud song it will stop you in your tracks. Sighting the bird is not as easy as it tends to duck for cover in the bushes along the river.
Follow the links below for what you might see during the changing seasons: