Upton Warren is a small reserve run by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. The 26 hectare reserve is split into two distinct areas: the freshwater Moors Pools in the north and the saline pools of the Flashes in the south.
The Flashes attract a variety of specialist birds and plants that require the salt water conditions. The hides at the Flashes provide excellent views of the shallow lagoons where avocets breed alongside common tern, black-headed gull, oystercatcher and redshank. The reeds and surrounding vegetation are also home to reed, sedge and Cetti’s warblers and reed bunting.

How To Get Here

Upton Warren is located south west of Birmingham near the town of Bromsgrove. From junction 5 on the M5 drive north on the A38 through Wychbold toward the village of Upton Warren to a roundabout next to the Upton Warren Sailing Club.

Part of this reserve is known as the Christopher Cadbury Wetland Reserve. The Moors Pool is the water to the north, and the Flashes an area to the south split by the River Salwarpe.

Car parking for the Flashes is at the sailing club, with parking for the Moors Pool at the end of a small lane east of the A38, accessed slightly north just past the Swan Inn. There are hides at the Flashes and more hides on both sides of Moors Pool accessible by paths around the lakes.


  • Sailing Club Lat/Long: 52.302782, -2.102124
  • OS map co-ordinate: SO931671
  • Nearest Parking Postcode: WR9 0DG

What to Shoot and Techniques

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

This most attractive and colourful of our native birds is high on any photographer’s wish list. Here at Upton Warren kingfishers are regular inhabitants of the Moors Pool part of the reserve and can be seen at most times of the year but especially September when the juveniles leave the nest and are learning to  sh. This often lasts for a brief few days before the adult birds chase the youngsters off to  find habitat of their own.

With kingfishers the bill colouration is key to knowing who you are dealing with. The adult male has an all black bill, the female has a red patch on the lower mandible and the youngsters often have a white tip to the bill (which may be a guide for the adults offering food in a dark burrow).


Kingfishers generally need a fast shutter speed, in  flight a minimum of 1/1600th is recommended to freeze the fast wing beats. However you can reduce this a little to get a little wing blur giving an impression of motion.

A small aperture of f/8 to f/13 will allow sufficient depth of field to keep both the bird and the perch in focus. Background and sunlight direction will affect the colours that show in the bird; a bright background of reflective water was used to advantage in some of these images to produce a high key image.

Photographing a relatively dark bird against a bright background means being accurate with the spot meter or using exposure compensation to increase the exposure by one or two stops. You can increase exposure in post processing, especially with RAW files but it’s always best to get this as close as possible whilst shooting.

Hide space is limited at Upton Warren at key times so take a bean bag to rest a big lens on if you can’t squeeze your tripod in.


There are level access tracks to the hides. Wheelchair access at the Moors has a padlocked barrier. Please contact Worcestershire Wildlife Trust for access. Day permits for non Wildlife Trust members are £3 and can be obtained from the Trust offices at Smite, from onsite volunteers and from the Outdoor Education Centre or in advance from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust by email or post.

Best Time of Year/Day

Spring and summer sees the avocets nesting on the pools at the Flashes. September is good to catch kingfishers at the Moors Pool. More species and seasonal details at www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk

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