Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Access: Park at sluice car park off Sluice Road

Goosander (winter)
Passage migrants
Summer migrants

Past Highlights:
Great Grey Shrike
Little Gull
Red-necked Grebe
Lapland Bunting
Ring Ouzel

As you leave Denver village on Sluice Road turtle dove can often be seen in the area around the windmill. Soon after the windmill you will pass a hedgerow running along your right. If on foot or bicycle this is worth checking on passage as it almost always holds tit flocks, and has produced firecrest in the past. Just beyond the railway crossing is a grassy layby on the left, opposite a small bungalow. This area is good for common woodland species, including woodpeckers, nuthatch, and occasionally marsh tit. The left hand hedgerow after the layby can be good for bullfinch, usually only heard. This hedgerow also holds tit flocks on passage, and the telephone wires and poplars on the right almost always produce flocks of thrushes and finches in winter.

Approaching the sluice, a turning on your left over a bridge can be worth checking out, as the bridge gives a vantage point over a part of the river not easily seen from elsewhere. However, if you are travelling by car it is best to park in the car park and walk to this bridge later. The bridge can sometimes give excellent close-up views of goosander – much better than the main sluice, and has also produced short-eared owl.

Continuing along sluice road, the corner is a good vantage point to scan for barn owl in the fields on the right. After the corner you will cross a bridge and the main sluice gate, before reaching the main car park on your left. The main sluice gate is the best place from which to scan the river – it gives you a full view and there is little chance of flushing the birds. It is best to scan with a telescope (even with a scope it is difficult to pick things out at the far end, which incidentally is the area where the red-necked grebe was seen). However, the winter goosanders tend to congregate between the half-way point and the main sluice gate, so can be viewed with binoculars. If you really want to see goosander and there are none at the sluice, try taking a walk along the riverbank around Fordham (morning is best). Behind you is a small reedbed on the edges of the boating area. This is one of the best places to see kingfisher in summer, although kingfisher can be seen almost anywhere along the river. The bridge at Downham is another favourite haunt. The reedbeds often produce reed and sedge warblers in spring and summer, though these birds are also found commonly elsewhere. The main sluice gate is a good place for hirundines in summer and offers one of the best chances of seeing grey wagtail (usually on the stone bank which forms a point where the two river channels meet).

The circular sluice route begins at the end of the main sluice gate nearest the car park, and can be very muddy in winter. Walk along the riverbank in the direction of Downham. The riverbanks should be checked for common sandpiper on passage, and the bushes often hold singing whitethroat and lesser whitethroat in summer. Reed and sedge warblers are usually in the reed fringes. Keep an eye out for water rail as they have been seen on several occasions at various locations around the sluice. Soon you will reach couple of shallow pools on the left. These are worth checking on passage as they have held wagtails, green sandpiper and greenshank, and wheatear has been seen around this area. As you get nearer Downham the path and surrounding area are good for fox, usually seen in the mornings.

Near the farmhouse you will see an embankment crossing diagonally to the other side. To continue the circular walk, follow this to the bank of the river Ouse. The hedgerows around the Ouse riverbank area are the best for linnet, yellowhammer and bullfinch. The riverbank always has meadow pipits and skylarks. The Ouse is less productive for wildfowl than the cut-off channel, but it is better for gull passage. About half way along the river bank you will see Salters Lode on your right: this can be good for kingfisher. The path ends opposite the car park.