In spite of the number of lakes in Cumbria (actually Bassenthwaite is the only one to feature Lake in its name) the mixed reed bed/birch scrub habitat at the southern tip of Bassenthwaite is quite rare. The lake hosts a wide variety of wildfowl, particularly in winter, including Pochard, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Great Crested and Little Grebe, Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser. Otter is sometimes seen across the bay - generally causing a certain amount of excitement in the public hide, if you don't have it to yourself. Ospreys have been appearing in season with greater frequency (see website http://www.ospreywatch.co.uk/).
There are views of the lake from the A66 - but there are NO lay-bys conveniently placed from which to observe, and stopping is otherwise impossible.
A much more pleasant alternative is to park in the car-park on the minor road just north of Powter How (GR NY221265) and stroll through the small oak woodland to the lakeside. To get the best from this walk bear left as you leave the car park and follow the path around and through the woodland. Great Spotted Woodpecker is present all year, while in the summer Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher will keep you company. Then go below the A66 through the underpass to the shore path, and turn right through a gate and into the willow carr. The public hide that was here was washed away in Storm Desmond in 2015.
Where to Watch Birds..... refers to a 'public hide' on the east bank of the lake. It belongs to the Calvert Trust and is strictly private