(FormerlyThe Hanson Environmental Study Centre)
Located at Great Linford on the northern edge of Milton Keynes the site was formerly a gravel pit providing materials for the construction of the M1 and latterly Milton Keynes itself. In 1971 a major project began to restore the site as an area for wildlife and conservation.
The Centre is managed by the Parks Trust as a nature reserve and field study centre, providing an education facility for local schools. In addition the site is visited by various organizations and study groups and is open to members of the public via a permit membership scheme.
The site consists of a large lake bordered on one side by woodland and small meadows, interlaced with a series of smaller lakes and ponds. There are three hides all with wheelchair access.
What can I expect to see?Spring migrants include the Cuckoo and many common warblers. On the lakes waterfowl and waders breed including Great Crested and Little Grebe. Heron nest on the Island in the main lake.
Summer visitors include the Hobby, (a small falcon) which can be seen hunting around the lakes. Over the ponds many species of dragonflies and damselflies are evident and by the sides of the pathways you may spot a grass snake sunbathing.
Autumn and Winter migrating birds often visit the lake (even the occasional Osprey). Ducks regularly include: Goldeneye, Pochard, Shoveller, Teal, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. Rarer visitors include Goosander, Smew and even Great White Egret. Short Eared Owls may be seen patrolling the meadows and fields.
All year round the woodland is home to mammals such as Voles, Wood Mice, Grey Squirrels, Stoats, Weasels and Rabbits. Larger inhabitants include Foxes, Reeves Muntjac Deer and Otters are occasionally spotted.
Buzzard circling over the far meadow at HESC.
Kingfisher are a common sight around the lakes, Little Egret are often present and Bittern and Water Rail have been spotted in the margins. Undoubtedly, within Milton Keynes, this unique haven of mixed habitat is home to a wonderful array of birds, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals.
Important - Please note.
Admission to the site is by permit only.
If you wish to visit the site and do not currently hold a valid 12 month permit please contact the Parks Trust: 01908 233600. or visit
Photographs © Tony Bedford