New bus service launching this summer, with access to WWT Slimbridge. Find out more.

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Viewing wildlife

Our 13 hides look out onto the Slimbridge reserve and offer you the best spots to see the wildlife of the Severn Estuary.

Visitors at the Esturay Tower by Clem Stevens

In the summer the South Lake Observatory Hide offers an excellent view out onto a lake bustling with activity. The sound proofing, large windows and comfy seating lend this hide to being good for families and for people who are beginner birdwatchers. In this friendly hide our visitors frequently share knowledge and tips and even the odd view through a telescope!

Another bright and airy lookout is the Kingfisher Hide. In the winter we have feeders up here which attract many familiar garden birds, which makes it a great spot for photography.

Last year kingfishers didn't breed at Slimbridge as numbers suffered in the long cold winter, but we are hopeful a pair will return soon to rear some young. In the meantime the hide is still a pleasure to visit with 360 degree views out onto the reserve.

Explore the accessible Estuary Tower Hide - complete with a lift. The hide is located just a few hundred meters from the visitor centre and has magnificent views of the Severn Estuary. You can spot a breath-taking variety of wild birds, from autumn wading birds to winter ducks, geese and swans. Meet our ‘Guides in the Hides’ volunteers who will be on hand to help with bird identification and share their knowledge about this wild landscape. If you’re a wildlife photographer there’s plenty of space to get your perfect photos – with two viewing floors, including an open terrace.

In the winter large numbers of ducks, geese and our famous Bewick’s swans congregate in the Rushy Pen. The swans in particular are fantastic to watch as the individual families compete for space on the water and jostle for postion ahead of the daily wild bird feeds.

You can sit and watch the action in our heated Peng Observatory. Many come to hear our commentated feeds at around 4pm each day (check on arrival for latest times). Here a warden will tell you all about the history of our work researching the Bewick’s and about how each one can be recognised by its individual bill pattern. It is worth arriving half an hour early to get a good seat and to watch the geese and swans make their dramatic entrances as they circle and fly down in groups.

Hundreds of thousands of birds visit the reserve throughout the year. To see which hides have the most action look on our website’s wildlife sightings page or check the sightings book on your arrival. You can see the different areas of the reserve by downloading the map below.

Download reserve map


The majority of our hides are wheelchair accessible at all times including:

  • Estuary Tower (all levels)
  • Robbie Garnett Hide (lower level)
  • Willow Hide
  • Knott Hide (lower windows)
  • South Lake Discovery Hide
  • Zeiss Hide (lower level, via ramp)
  • Van de Bovenkamp (via ramp)
  • Kingfisher Hide
  • Peng Observatory
  • Martin Smith Hide (via ramp)
  • Hogarth Hide (via ramp)

The Summer Walkway is not open during the winter months but it is also wheelchair accessible, with a new viewing platform also available on the seawall near the Pillbox.