Kempton Nature Reserve is a decommissioned and largely drained reservoir in west London. The site is now an internationally important nature reserve, protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the wildfowl which winter here.
Access is restricted, with only one open day each year, although there is a local membership scheme. Security is tight, with the reservoir ringed by a high fence. Two of the three bird hides are likewise protected by high security fencing; this is a very secure nature reserve.
Kempton Nature Reserve has grown from the former Kempton Park East Reservoir. The reservoir was closed in 1980 and drained in 1982. However, the reservoir has retained a residual amount of water, supplemented by rainfall. Since 1996 the reserve has been managed actively as a nature reserve by Thames Water.
On a grey January afternoon, there was a pleasing wildness to the former reservoir, brightened by colourful, big-billed shoveler ducks out on the water. As dusk fell, more than 100 chattering jackdaws flew in low, settling into their noisy woodland roost.
The nature reserve features a lake, reedbeds, islands and young woodland, growing within the former reservoir walls. If you live locally, check out the membership scheme, this is a great place to enjoy nature and a bit of peace and quiet.
My thanks to Jane Clarke for company on this walk, undertaken in January 2020.