Chorlton Water Park is a real wildlife oasis in South Manchester and its proved to be a real lifeline for people during the coronavirus lockdown.
Just like Sale Water Park, the lake is made from a flooded gravel pit that was used to build the motorway.
I’ve lived next to the water park in Merseybank Estate for six years and in that time I’ve seen many seasons.
Despite the popularity of Chorlton Water Park with cyclists, walkers and families, wildlife thrives in this urban environment.
It helps that the park is in a prime location next to the River Mersey and close to Sale Water Park and Kenworthy Woods so it forms an important wildlife corridor in the city.
Here are some of the wonderful birds and other wildlife that can be found all year round in the different areas of Chorlton Water Park.
CWP is lined with trees that attract various garden birds like robins, long-tailed tits, great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, blackbirds, crows and magpies.
By the lake
Lots of people feed the ducks down at the lake so the feral pigeons often hang around hoping for a snack.
The house sparrows also come to hoover up any crumbs that are left.
ln the spring of lockdown a mute swan laid its eggs in the reed bed in plain view. Swans and geese also nest on the lake islands.
Around the fringes of the lake you can find reed buntings, kingfishers and herons feeding in the reeds.
In the lake
The lake itself is where so much of the wildlife in the Water Park thrives. There are mallards that live here all year round.
As with many inner-city bodies of water, there are interesting colour morphs of mallards that show up like this one.
Another domesticated bird that sometimes shows up is the domestic goose like this one.
Canada geese are a mainstay of the lake and they breed there every year.
The juvenile swans stay around with their parents for a long time before heading out on their own.
Cormorants hunt for fish in the lake too.
Black-headed gulls love the lake, especially in the wintertime.
Coots breed on nests in dangling tree roots and there are always baby coots in the spring and summer.
Moorhens also live and breed in the lake but in smaller numbers than the coots.
In the autumn and winter, many migrant ducks make a stop at the lake when they’re on the move. Tufted ducks are some of the most common visitors and they gather in the centre of the lake.
The shy gadwall also pass through but they avoid humans as much as possible.
Pochards are another wintertime visitor but in very small numbers. Shovelers and teal also show up.
The islands are an important breeding ground for the reclusive great crested grebe.
They breed in the tree roots of the islands and produce a humbug chick every year.
On the Chorlton side of the park is Barlow Tip, a overgrown tip where whitethroats breed in the spring and summer. Greenfinches, goldfinches and reed buntings love it there too.
The tip is a good place to spot raptors like the kestrels that hunt there.
Mammals that are most often seen at the park are grey squirrels in the trees and rats attracted to the food fed to the birds.
At dusk, the bats come out as there are bat boxes near the children’s playground. Foxes also patrol at night once people leave.
There is plenty of other wildlife like frogs, toads, dragonflies and various species of butterflies too.
Chorlton Water Park and Barlow Tip are home to many birds so this is not an exhaustive list! Keep up-to-date with the sightings recorded on the Manchester Birding Forum depending on the season.
Full list of birds I’ve seen in Chorlton Water Park:
- Black-headed gull
- Blue tit
- Canada goose
- Carrion crow
- Coal tit
- Common whitethroat
- Domestic duck
- Domestic goose
- Feral pigeon
- Great crested grebe
- Great tit
- Grey heron
- House sparrow
- Long-tailed tit
- Mallard duck
- Mute swan
- Reed bunting
- Tufted duck
- Wood pigeon
In 2018 a red-breasted merganser was recorded here.
If you’re wildlife watching in your local area with little ones then download my Birdy Bingo card game to see how many points you can score!
Read more: The secret garden (wild)life of Merseybank Estate in Manchester
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What birds have you spotted in Chorlton Water Park? Share your sightings in the comments below!
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