BIG URBAN BIRDING
Words by Jessica Peace
It’s been a while since we’ve been twitching (bird watching mate) but this week we’ve pulled up our thermals and strapped on the binoculars at Europe’s biggest stretch of wetlands in our very own Walthamstow.
WHY BIRD WATCH?
Why wouldn’t you? Birds are little marvels, you connect with Mumma Nature and it’s bloody relaxing. Walthamstow Wetlands is massive, made up of ten reservoirs and internationally renowned as a home to waterfowl (birds that like it wet), birds of prey and wildlife. This place had been locked up for 150 years but opened up for nature lovers (us) last year.
Just a few weeks ago the wetlands saw its first Little Bunting, it’s only the 11th to be recorded in London since the 1950’s. This rare bunting beauty breeds in the Taiga forest habitat of North Eastern Europe and Northern Asia but migrates over Winter, normally in subtropical Asia so you are damn lucky if you see one here - but you up your chances in Walthamstow so get yourself up there with your bins on.
ON THE GUEST LIST
You might be hangin’ out with: Peregrine falcon, Tufted duck,
Kingfisher, White egret, Heron, Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Cormorant, Common sandpiper, Teal, Pochard, Reed bunting, Cettis warbler, Lapwing, Dunnock, Black headed gull…
NEW YEAR, NEW BIRD.
Want a reason to get out of bed on January 1st? There are guided birdwatching walks led by the London Wildlife Trust around midday - enough time to shake off a fragile head. It’s free but book your place fast. (There’s family stuff going on too if you’ve got little people.)
HELPING THE BIRDS FROM HOME
It’s getting cold and if you’re a bird you’ve literally got 21 problems - there’s not much nosh about; you go to knock back a drink and realise it’s an ice pop; there’s hardly any places to hide as half the trees are starkers and your predators think they’re even hungrier you are; oh, and all you’ve got to keep warm in is your tiny coat of body fat. Putting some grub out for the birds in your own urban patch and pots might just save a few.
You could also attract some new mates - as much as we love the robin and the tit, you could spot blackcaps and bramblings knockin’ about outside your window. Don’t forget water is just as important, check it regularly to make sure it’s clean and unfrozen.
Free as all the birds you’ll see.
123 and 230, jump off at ‘Ferry Boat Inn’.
There are running and cycling routes around and through the grounds, including a cycle route that leads into the Lee Valley and the Olympic Park.
LET ME IN (AND OUT)
Right now 9.30am til 4pm but always worth checking before you leave.