News archive

October 2018

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Hobby chasing dragonflies

The birds of Ruxley Gravel Pits

We are delighted to be publishing two reports on the remarkable birdlife of Ruxley Gravel Pits.

Nestled amidst roads and warehouses in the north of the Bromley borough, near Sidcup, Ruxley Gravel Pits is a little-known haven for wildlife. The reserve is not open to the public but can be visited on our guided walks. The next will be on Thursday 1 November.

Expert ornithologist Derek McWalter produces an annual report of the reserve's birds. You can read the 2016 report on the link at the bottom of the page. We will publish the 2017 report here soon.

The highlight from 2016 has to be a nightingale that was heard pouring out its exquisite song in May. A nightingale was also heard in May this year, showing that the pits are playing their part in helping one of our most celebrated but fastest declining birds. These nightingales would have been using the reserve as a pit-stop, taking a rest before carrying on to their breeding grounds somewhere else in South East England.

The report makes a fascinating read. It shows the multitude of different birds that can be found in the reserve's pools, scrub, woods and reedbed. This variety of well-managed habitats is the secret behind the astonishing variety of life that can be found.

In spring and summer the reedbed resounds with the atmospheric song of reed warblers, while blackcaps and chiffchaffs breed in the woods. The pits themselves attract insects, which in turn provides an important food supply for swifts, swallows and house martins.

In winter the pits assume a different character. The summer visitors have long gone, replaced by our winter visitors. The pools fill with waterbirds, including pochard and shoveler, escaping harsher conditions further north and east.

Raptors can often be seen overhead. Buzzard and red kite sightings are becoming more frequent and hobbies (pictured) dash over the lakes in the summer hunting dragonflies.

You can read the full 2016 report below:

Download file

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The magic of Bromley's autumn migration

The magic of Bromley's autumn migration

Autumn is when birds are on the move in search of warmer climes. Some of our birds don't go far but for some species this involves incredible journeys.

The first of Bromley's birds to take their leave are our swifts. They started heading south in late July. The last sightings that we received this year were in early August. As you read this they will be feeding over the tropical rainforests of Central Africa. In December they will push on further south and east, reaching Mozambique's Indian Ocean coast in time for some Christmas winter sun! In January they will start their long journey back to Bromley's towns.

Our other summer visitors leave much later. Swallows and house martins can still be seen as late as October. They were seen earlier in the month in the farmland around Keston but by now most will be on their way back to southern Africa.

There are some birds that breed in other countries but spend their winter with us. Compared to the frozen conditions in Iceland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Bromley's countryside offers rich pickings in the depths of winter.

This includes redwings. A member of the thrush family with distinctive white stripes above their eyes and a red flash under their wings. A flock of 23 was seen over Bromley High Street on 8 October. Redwings are pouring into Bromley at the moment - listen out for their high-pitched "seep" call on clear, crisp evenings and mornings as they pass overhead fresh from their North Sea crossing.

Our borough's water bodies will soon become a winter refuge for waterbirds from colder regions where lakes will be frozen. Rare birds can show up. A great white egret spent several weeks at Ruxley Gravel Pits near Sidcup last winter.

Other birds are just passing through for a few days. Very excitingly, a whinchat was spotted on horse paddocks in Hayes' farmland in August. A rare sighting in Bromley of a super bird.

Also in Hayes, in early October a white wagtail was seen in Hayes Lane. It's greyer and whiter than the pied wagtail. Small numbers are seen during spring and autumn as it passes between its summer breeding grounds in Iceland to its wintering grounds in southern Europe and Africa.

Autumn is an exciting time - you never know what you're going to see. We'd love to hear your autumn wildlife sightings. Email

To follow migration across the UK visit the BTO's excellent Bird Migration Blog on the link below:

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The day the #soggy10000 filled London with birdsong!

The day the #soggy10000 filled London with birdsong!

Despite the soggy weather, at least 10,000 people took to the streets of London in what many people are saying is the largest ever march or rally for nature.

It was great to see so many people from the RSPB Bromley Local Group, including our volunteer Nicholas who helped run the RSPB stall.

It was an inspiring day, brilliantly organised by Chris Packham.

It started with making banners, face painting and chatting with the huge numbers of other wildlife-enthusiasts that were gathering in Hyde Park. We spoke to some who had come all the way from Northern Ireland - they were determined that their country and its wildlife were represented!

There were rousing speeches from the authors of the exciting Manifesto for Wildlife. They explained what needs to change to allow our depleted wildlife to recover - covering a wide range of topics, from marine conservation to pesticides, helping wildlife in your garden to the illegal persecution of our birds of prey (to mention only a few). You can read the full manifesto on Chris' website (

Before long the #soggy10000 set off to Downing Street, drowning the capital in the sound of birdsong from our mobile phones (a powerful reminder of the 44 million birds we have lost since the 1960s).

As the final speeches came to an end outside Downing Street, Chris Packham closed with the words "Wildlife needs you and it needs you more than ever".

It's up to all of us to create a world where all life can flourish. There's so much we can all do. Butterfly Conservation has come up with ten easy ways you can help save our environment (on the link below).