South Norwood Lake, England


South Norwood Lake is a former reservoir in the London Borough of Croydon. It’s home to a variety of wildlife including ring necked parakeets, cormorants, and great crested grebes. There is also sailing, a bowling green, a cricket pitch, and a cafe among the other amenities. The kiosk cafe next to the lake itself has good vegan options.

Croydon Council has narrated the interesting history of how the lake came to be in this document. The London Birders website has a bit more information on the wildlife of the lake on this site. They mention that in 1997 an American pied-billed grebe spent the winter on the lake! Other highlights have included red-breasted merganser, honey buzzard, and firecrest. Six species of bats have also been recorded at the Lake. Seek out the Friends of South Norwood Lake on Twitter or Instagram for updates on bat walks and more at the Lake.

Average rating: 3.0 (good)

Average cost: the Lake is free to access so your only costs are travel or food.

Best time to visit: you can visit year-round. The gates open at the latest at 8 am. Spring is the best time to look out for grebes doing their incredible courtship dance.

How to get there: you can get to the park easily by car, bus, train, or bike. The main entrance is accessed via Woodvale Avenue. Other entrances are located in Auckland Road and Sylvan Road. The nearest train station is Norwood Junction.

Typical activities: bird watching, fishing, jogging, sailing, walking

Number of reports: 4

Last updated: 2022


According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:

Great crested grebe – 100% OF WILDSIDE USERS (4/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

great crested grebe south norwood lake wildside world wild webDon’t let the lack of TripAdvisor reports put you off – South Norwood Lake is actually a great place to look out for great crested grebes. They nest on the island in the lake. When WildSide was there we were lucky enough to see a baby grebe too. We have read that last year (2021) they raised four grebettes!

It is possible to see the grebes with the naked eye, but if you want a close up of their magnificent plumage do take your binoculars. Or a long lensed camera like the previous tweeter! Grebes have been there for many years – a grebe census records two there in 1965. If you want to see their spectacular courtship dance try heading to the Lake around sunrise between February and May.

Great cormorant – 25% of wildside users (1/4) reported sightings

cormorant south norwood lakes wildside world wild webGreat cormorants are commonly found around the UK’s rocky coastline – which supports internationally important populations of this species – although they are increasingly being found inland. They are around the size of a goose with large bodies and long thin necks. Adults are black, with white on their faces and thighs. Cormorants are occasional visitors to South Norwood Lake. They are most easily spotted when sitting perched on a log or rock, stretching out their wings out to dry in the sun.

ring necked parakeet – 75% OF WILDSIDE USERS (3/4) REPORTED SIGHTINGS

ring necked parakeet south norwood lake wildside world wild webOne bird that you’re likely to hear before you see is the ring necked parakeet. These are noisy, raucous, squawking creatures. And they aren’t shy! Chances are you’ll see or hear these colourful characters as soon as you set foot in the park. You can spot them year-round although it can be harder in spring and summer when the leaves are out on the trees. They are called ‘ring necks’ because the adults have a dark circle around the backs of their necks. They are perfectly at home in the park and nest on the island in the middle of the Lake. There are various stories about how parakeets ended up in England, but they seem to quite like it here, even though their native range is tropical!

Photo credit: WildSide team member Chris White

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