News archive

December 2017

Friday, 29 December 2017

2017- Our year in review

2017- Our year in review


2017 got off to a spectacular start as we experienced first-hand the Waxwing Winter. This was one of the few winters that these exotic-looking birds arrive en masse from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and we were lucky enough to find a flock of over 40 on our way back from Cliffe Pools in North Kent.


In February another rare winter visitor took centre stage. During our trip to Abberton Reservoir in Essex we could scarcely believe our good fortune when we came across seven smews. The males were the purest of whites, with delicate black lines. And as dusk approached, a barn owl floated past us, hunting low over the countryside.

We also enjoyed presentations from Bob Francis, on the wildlife of Canada, and David Linstead, who presented an entertaining seabird soap opera from the Farne Islands.

This month also saw the launch of our Facebook page. This has been a great way to share news and photos from our Group and about wildlife in Bromley. Thanks for all your likes and comments!


March is an exciting month for birdwatching as our resident male birds start to establish their territory and try to attract a mate. This was much in evidence during our walk in the spring sunshine around Well Wood. Buzzards performed their acrobatic rollercoaster display flights, skylarks poured their songs down on us and the woods were filled with birdsong. Even a few butterflies had ventured out, confirming the impression that spring had truly sprung.

Our March talk took us on a journey further afield, to Bhutan, courtesy of Jeff Blincow. Jeff is an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker - it was great to hear from him and see his super images of the wildlife of this Himalayan kingdom.


Summer came early this year in Bromley, which was perfect for Heronwatch 2017. Heronwatch is our annual joint event with the Friends of Kelsey Park. We set up our stall overlooking the island that contains one of London's largest heronries. A constant stream of visitors in the hot weather were enthralled by the boisterous herons. Thanks to all our brilliant volunteers.


May is arguably the best month for birdwatching as birdsong reaches its peak, as we heard in our dawn chorus event in Chelsfield Green. There is no doubting the star vocalist of the season - we were serenaded around Fingringhoe Wick on the Essex coast by singing nightingales. This reserve is a stronghold for these birds but their numbers are in a worrying decline. Our visit to Fingringhoe and our trip to Pulborough Brooks in April were organised as part of the UK's first National Nightingale Festival, which aimed to raise awareness of these exceptional singers and their plight.

We also celebrated our Group's 45th anniversary this month with an entirely coincidental trip to Birthday Wood, a little-known pocket of scenic beauty and biodiversity in the North Downs in south of our borough.


Alan Johnson, the RSPB's Conservation Manager for South East England, was the guest speaker at our AGM in June. It was great to hear how much work is being done to restore and create habitats for our region's most threatened wildlife.

Swallows stole the show on our local walk this month to Hawkwood. We're lucky that such a variety of urban and countryside birds can still be found in our borough - which is officially the greenest in London.


Our coach trip to RSPB Minsmere on the Suffolk coast gave us sun, scrapes and some stupendous seldom-seen shorebirds (try saying that quickly). This reserve really is teeming with wildlife and it's not difficult to see why the BBC based their Springwatch programme here for many years. There were too many highlights to mention but perhaps the best sighting was a purple heron - a very rare and spectacular bird.


In August we took a well-earned break! This was a good opportunity to marvel at the wildlife in our gardens. The sunny weather provided ideal conditions for butterflies and day-flying moths such as garden tiger moths.

At the end of the month we were excited to announce our new column in the Bromley Times. We will be using this to keep you up to date with the latest news about our borough's wildlife. Our first column reported the results of this year's Bromley Garden Bird Feeding Survey. This story was also picked up by the Bromley News Shopper.


September got off to the best possible start - a planning application in North Kent for 5,000 houses, which would have effectively destroyed the best site for nightingales in Britain, was withdrawn. The future of the site is still uncertain so we hope 2018 brings more good news.

Our new programme started with a talk on the birds and history of Egypt. A guided walk around RSPB Rainham Marshes gave us an insight into the history of the reserve and great views of birds of prey. Our local walk this month was held at Footscray Meadows. As we strolled along the river, flanked by lush vegetation, a kingfisher occasionally sped past us, while in the trees we spotted warblers, linnets, woodpeckers and some very photogenic long-tailed tits.


In October we heard from Edward Mayer, the founder of Swift Conservation. Edward explained that these much-loved summer visitors were in trouble - their numbers have plummeted in recent decades. Inspired by Edward, we are establishing a Bromley Swift Group and are planning to survey our borough's population in the summer. We need your help (no experience or knowledge needed) - please email or call 07392 790 719 to register your interest.

In October we also explored the countryside around Cudham in Darwin Country, near the great naturalist's home in Downe. It proved to be a memorable day as we encountered a stonechat - a great sighting for Bromley - as well as yellowhammers and skylarks, farmland birds that are in decline across the UK but thankfully still present in our borough.


We were impressed by the newly-opened Walthamstow Wetlands during our visit this month. Easily accessible by train and tube from Bromley, this huge urban wetland reserve is well worth a trip. We were treated to an impressive array of birds, including kingfisher and goldeneye. Without doubt the highlight was the peregrine falcons that seemed to accompany us all day, popping up at the top of the pylons (thankfully we had scopes to give us up close views!).


As winter arrived in Bromley, we gathered for our annual Christmas Wildlife Quiz, which was as ever a highly entertaining evening. We rounded off the year with a coach trip to RSPB Dungeness. Perhaps a long-eared owl and brambling were the stars but there was so much to see during the day and time for a good pub lunch.

Thanks to all our volunteers this year and to everyone who has joined us on our events. We wish everyone a very Happy New Year. See you in January.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bromley's bird invaders

Bromley's bird invaders

You can read the article by viewing an e-edition on the link below:

You can find our previous two column articles in the Bromley Times' archive. Click on the Menu icon at the top right of the page when you are viewing the paper (the icon has three horizontal lines) and then select Archive. Our previous articles appeared in the 31 August and 26 October editions (both on page 6).

Look out for our next article in January.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Download our 2017/2018 programme of events

Download our 2017/2018 programme of events

All our events are open to everyone, of all ages: members and non-members, expert birdwatchers and absolute beginners.

You can download our programme as a pdf file from the link below.

Download file