Bradgate Park was first enclosed as a deer park around 800 years ago. It is one of the best places to photograph (tame) Red Deer in England.
Extending to 830 acres of publicly accessible countryside the Park has a wild and rugged aspect that you do not expect to find so close to the city with dramatic rocky outcrops and gnarled old oak trees, many of which are well over 500 years old.
The centre is deservedly famous for its vast flocks of over-wintering water-birds, including up to 40,000 barnacle geese from Arctic Svalbard and large numbers of pink-footed geese and whooper swans. With so many geese finding them is not to difficult so long as you look in the right places.
The key to success is saving a visit for the best conditions. Good, mellow but bright winter light is needed to get the most out of this location... rain in the forecast... head somewhere else!
The best locations for photography
The first thing that may not be obvious if you rush to the visitor centre and parking location (especially if you arrive pre-dawn in the dark) is that some of the best photography spots are actually on the country road into the reserve. The recommendation is to park up and then walk back to check the arable land for up to 1km before the parking location. The road faces north so depending on the time of day, where the geese are and your preferred style (front or back lighting) you should be rewarded.
Please do no venture into the fields. The geese are relatively tolerant of people on the road but quickly disperse if people wander around.
The road into the visitor centre is also a frequent flyover spot. Keep looking out as the sky can suddenly fill with geese and that is the time to take a range of shots. Small groups of geese right up to several thousand in the air together.
The reserve itself offer more options. The hide overlooking the main body of water can give some close up views of various wildfowl and Whooper Swans, but the lighting can be tricky until later in the day (hide faces East). Continue on the path to the hide overlooking the bay (Solway Firth) and you can sometimes be rewarded with thousands of geese taking flight against orange and rust red winter skies.