Birding in London

  • Paul Tyler
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12 years 1 month ago #628 by Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler created the topic: Birding in London
Hi Everyone.

I know this doesn't pertain to birding in South Africa but thought some of you might find this handy if you are ever in London and have a chance to do some birding

On Saturday 21st January I decided to visit the London Wetland Centre. My main target was to try and find at least 1 of the 3 Eurasian Bittern that are present there at the moment. It proved to be most frustrating as some of the guys actually saw the bird while I was scanning the reed bed, the one guy who was sitting right next to me caught a glimpse of the bird! None the less I had an awesome days birding. I was quite surprised with my total of 39 species.

The wetland is situated within the city, about 10 miles from the city centre. It cost me £6.75 to get in, and it was worth every penny. The hides are incredible. The one is two floors , with a lift! For viewing the hides had windows, about the same width as the normal gap and about 75 cm long, and these could be easily opened or closed. I stupidly left my book at home, but each hide had good illustrations of virtually all the birds present. I'm still not entirely familiar with all the British Birds! At no extra cost you could ask for a guide. Two of the hides had cameras focused on various areas in front of the hides and you could watch the live "broadcasts" on TVs inside.

In all I got 14 lifers. The ducks were excellent. Two male Northern Pintails were my sighting of the day. I also saw Northern Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan(amazing watching them in flight), Wigeon, Ruddy Duck and Northern Shoveller. I met up with a local birder and together we sorted out a flock of gulls. We picked out Black-headed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gull. Black-headeds are very common in London. We have it relatively easy in SA as far as gulls go, here there are more species and some are very similar, especially in non-breeding plumage.

Amongst the rafts of Teal I managed to pick out Common Snipe- very similar to African. I also had a very brief view of a Jack Snipe. It's like a dwarf Common Snipe and behaves like a Common Sandpiper. I also had excellent views of Water Rail, a pair were chasing each other in the reed bed below the hide. A single Common Kingfisher gave good views. A crowd of about 40 birders gathered to view the bird.

Both Dabchick and Great Crested Grebes were present and a flock of about 200 Northern Lapwings. Woodland birds were also quite numerous. I had good views of Siskin, Goldfinch, Green Finch, Green woodpecker, Chaffinch, Stock Dove, Common Jay, Great and Blue Tit, Robin and Blackbird. London, like Gauteng also has a feral population of Ring-necked Parakeets.

The London Wetland Centre is situated in Barnes SW13.


Paul Tyler

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  • gordon
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12 years 1 month ago #630 by gordon
gordon replied the topic:

Thanks for the post, it is really great to read about other countries and the birds that are present, not too mention the facilities! (a lift in a bird hide...I'd feel guilty using it... <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> )


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  • lam
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12 years 1 month ago #645 by lam
lam replied the topic:
Another place to bird is Brent Reservoir. Between Brent Cross and Hendon Central on the Northern Line, Edgware branch. Free entry, but you need to know someone to get into the hides as they are locked(!). We only got into them once on a Sunday morning when other birders were there.

Note to early birder South Africans, the Wetlands centre only opens at 9.00 or 9.30 in the middle of summer (when the sun rises at 3.00am). We stood outside for quite a while.

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