Location Ferry Meadows CP is on the west of the town south of the A 47 alongside the river Nene. The Country Park itself is an area of 200ha ( including a 16ha nature reserve) and is part of a much larger area of approx 1000ha managed by the Nene Park Trust which consists of mature woods, extensive grassland, scrub and meadows. The area was originally farmland with riverside meadows and the lakes were formed by gravel extraction in the 1970's.
Facilities The site has excellent facilities including visitor and water sports centres, toilets, Cafes, bird hides and numerous paths throughout the area.
Access The main car parks and visitor centre are accessed off the A605 (Oundle road). From Peterborough turn right at the roundabout to Nottcutts garden centre into Ham Lane and follow this road into the park. Other points of access are: 1. From Bluebell Bridge, parking at Thorpe Wood Golf course and take the public footpath alongside the course to the bridge; 2. At Milton Ferry Bridge, this is accessed off the A47 Castor by pass, on leaving Peterborough take the first slip road to Castor turn left onto Peterborough road and after 50yds left again, follow the road to the car park.
Birds Although heavily used by the general public this is probably the best bird watching site within Peterborough and over 200 species have been recorded here. Resident birds include Little, Tawny, and Long-eared Owls, Jays, Tits, Finches (including good numbers of Bullfinches), Mistle Thrushes, Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers and Water Rails on the nature reserve, also large numbers of ducks and Geese on the lakes in the park. Red Kites and Buzzards are now common.
Spring/Summer Early morning in spring is probably the best time to visit as passage migrants follow the river Nene inland from the coast. As well as the commoner summer visitors rarer species include Hobbies, Grasshopper and Cetti's warblers, Nightingales, Cuckoos and Spotted Flycatchers can still occasionally be found. Birds on passage include Ring Ouzels, Redstarts, Arctic Terns, Ospreys and Black-necked Grebe. A Red-rumped Swallow was also seen recently.
Autumn/ Winter Look out for returning migrants which could include Arctic/ Black Terns, Osprey, Wood warbler and Honey Buzzard. Wildfowl numbers increase substantially in the winter; these include large flocks of Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck and Coot .
Fieldfare and Redwings are common throughout the park at this time of the year with Siskins and Redpolls frequenting the alders in the nature reserve. Flocks of Waxwings have also been recorded.
This wood is on the eastern side of the park bordering the north bank of the river Nene. It is a long, narrow wood between Milton Ferry Bridge in the north-west and Bluebell Bridge in the south-east. Like most local woods it is largely an oak-ash wood but has scattered sycamore, beech, pine, larch and yews throughout it. The river is fringed with willow and poplar trees and there is a stand of alder at the south-eastern corner next to Bluebell Bridge.
The wood holds all the usual species including Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Spotted Flycatchers and Treecreeper. In winter Siskins and Redpolls are sometimes seen in the alders. On passage Firecrest has been seen in the wood as well as Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher.
Access From the park at Milton Ferry Bridge or Bluebell Bridge or by parking at Milton Ferry Bridge and walking into the western end, or parking at Thorpe Wood Golf Course car park and walking along the footpath between the golf course and office buildings to the southern end. A cycle path also enters the wood in the middle from South Bretton.
This is a small wood on the eastern edge of the area near the Thorpe wood roundabout (A47 Jct 15) it is bisected by the Nene Parkway, the larger 6ha northern half next to Longthorpe with the smaller section next to the police station. The wood is managed by the County Wild Life trusts and the northern section has been managed by coppicing and the southern half has been left to develop naturally. The wood is rich in wildlife with the southern part particularly good for hole nesting species. Whilst Lesser Spotted Woodpecker bred regularly in the past they no longer do so, however Nuthatches , Tree Creepers and Marsh Tits, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are regularly seen.
Access There is a small car park in the northern section and this part of the wood has a circular path though it. It can be accessed from the western end of Thorpe road at the junction with Holywell way.
This is a long narrow area bordered by Longthorpe Parkway and the river Nene stretching from Orton Mere to the city centre. Originally grazing meadows on the river Nene floodplain it now consists of amenity meadows ( which still occasionally flood), a purpose built rowing course, woodland scrub and tree belts.
Access From the city centre take the A1179 Thorpe road to the first roundabout, take the first left into Thorpe Meadows Road there is a car park adjacent to the rowing course. You can also park at Orton Mere station, cross the railway line and river and enter the meadows via the public footpath.
Autumn/Winter This is a good time to check out the rowing lake as it holds good numbers of wildfowl including large numbers of Mute Swans. Rarer species including Common Sandpiper and Arctic terns have been seen on passage. Scaup, Glaucous Gull and Red-necked Grebe have also been reported .
Spring/Summer Orton Staunch regularly attracts Grey & Pied Wagtails and Nightingales have been reported from the tree belt. Kingfishers can also be seen in the area where they have bred in the past.
The Board Walks Nature Reserve and Crightons Wood ( managed by the city council) are worth checking out. This area is best accessed from the public footpath opposite the Boat House Pub.