The river Thames is the obvious place to start looking at wildlife in and around Windsor. Graceful swans, ducks coots and moorhens all live on its banks. However, in summer the river traffic will disturb bird watchers more than it will the birds themselves.
Standing on Eton bridge around dawn and dusk, you will have close encounters with squadrons of swans and geese, flying along the river toward you from either direction. Some will fly beneath the bridge while others will rise a little and cross your path at only a few feet above head height.
Birds of prey are a lot more common now than a decade ago. In particular a healthy stock of Red Kites can be seen and heard wheeling above Windsor almost any day of the week. In addition buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks all make regular appearances
The great news is that a mile to the north of the Thames there is the new ‘jubilee river’ which is actually a flood relief scheme, but has been built to provide protected rare habitats for a wider range of wildfowl than are seen on the river proper.
Grasssnakes and the rare adder are ocassionally spotted in the area. If you are lucky enough to spot a snake, stay still and watch from a suitable distance. Adders are the country’s only venomous snake and were once a common sight in the countryside of the Thames Valley, but these days are very rare and are protected in law.
A few miles west of town is the Braywick nature reserve on the site of a disused quarry.
Being surrounded by water we are lucky to find lots of insect life in the area. This dragonfly was on an elder tree close to the river.
The Windsor great park offers a great opportunity to look at deer up close and to spot foxes, rabbits, hedgehogs and lots of native wildlife. There are a few muntjac deer in the great park, but these are shy creatures rarely seen by visitors. However, you will see lots of Roe Deer.
The mycologists out there will be pleased to learn that Windsor Great Park is great for fungi of so many different varieties that they would deserve a whole web site of their own. There are many trees and plants for botanists, including some ancient oaks, a true symbol of England itself.
Sutherland Grange is an open space to the west of Windsor town centre between the Maidenhead road and the River Thames. In spring and summer, the hay meadow at Sutherland Grange boasts a huge variety of butterflies, beetles, flowers and grasses. Stag Beetles, Rose Chafers, Leopard Moths can all be seen in summer months, alongside thousands of spieces of smaller, less instantly recogniseable insects. Because of this abundance a great range of birds can be found here.
We also have a good number of interlopers. Windsor park is home to a huge flock of green parakeets who are thriving. Largest reported flock on the beech trees near the polo fields included more than 100 individual parakeets. These birds also started making appearances in Dedworth in 2012, as they extend their terretory beyond the boundaries of the Great Park. We also have a very health population of sparrowhawks in Windsor!
This photograph of a parakeet was taken in the Great Park.
The Brocas, the ancient field directly by the river on the Eton side of the Thames by Windsor bridge also boasts a great hay meadow environment. look out for butterflies, crickets, swifts and all manner of smaller creatures in high summer.