News archive

June 2018

Friday, 29 June 2018

Explore a haven for rare and beautiful wildlife this Sunday

Explore a haven for rare and beautiful wildlife this Sunday

The author Simon Barnes perfectly captured the essence of Minsmere:

"Minsmere has a quality of vividness. It is a place that opens your eyes and ears, your heart and mind to birds: and to everything else that lives as well. There is a quality about Minsmere that inspires delight in life, all kinds of life: wildlife of every sort and, as an added bonus, your own life as well. The place is almost outrageously life-enhancing" (Flying in the Face of Nature, 1992).

Minsmere is one of Europe's great nature reserves.

There's a great chance of seeing bitterns and bearded tits in the reedbeds. Hobbies frequently speed past searching for prey, while marsh harriers glide over the reeds.

Rare warblers can be heard singing in the reedbeds - the very rare Savi's warbler has been heard singing as recently as today.

The lagoons, next to the sandy beach, teem with waders, gulls and terns - including rare species. This part of the reserve is a magnet for waders passing through the country, still sporting their delightful summer plumage. This could include spotted redshank, ruff and sandpipers (to mention only a few).

The lagoons are also home to Minsmere's thriving population of avocets. They were made famous by the BBC's Springwatch programme, which was based at the reserve for many years.

The heathland holds some of our most charismatic species, like Dartford warbler and stone curlew. The woods provide a chance to encounter many of our favourite songbirds, including nightingale.

The amazing views of the famous sand martin colony is another highlight.

The birds are only part of the story. Minsmere is one of the richest areas for wildlife in the country, with thousands of species of wildflowers, dragonflies, butterflies, moths and mammals (including otters). The day-flying moths and butterflies are spectacular, with species like hummingbird hawk moth, purple hairstreak and white admiral.

To book your place on a coach trip to RSPB Minsmere on Sunday 1 July, please email or call 07392 790 719.

The coach leaves from Hawthorne Road, near Bickley train station in Bromley, at 8am. The price is £20 for adults, £10 for anyone aged 15 or under.

There will be a choice between joining a guided walk around the reserve's varied habitats or doing your own thing.

The reserve has excellent facilities - lots of well-situated hides and a large visitor centre (with knowledgeable guides), extensive nature trails with information, a well-stocked RSPB shop and café (don't miss the delicious cakes!).

Contact us to book your place or let us know if you have any questions.


Telephone: 07392 790 719

You can find the latest sightings below:

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Swift Awareness Week starts today

Swift Awareness Week starts today

As featured on the BBC's Springwatch programme on Thursday, today Britain becomes the first country in the world to dedicate a national week to helping swifts.

We're delighted to be leading two swift walks in Beckenham as part of the week's events.

Join us at 8pm on Monday 18 June and Thursday 21 June for guided walks to enjoy the spectacular aerial acrobatics that these visitors from Africa perform before sunset. It's without doubt one of the classic sights and sounds of the British summer.

To book your free place, please email or call 07392 790719. More info on our Events page.

As part of Swift Awareness Week, local swift groups across the UK are organising around 100 events.

It's already created a splash in the media. Here's some of the places that have picked up the story:

BBC Springwatch (Thursday 14 June) -

A blog is also on the BBC Springwatch website -

Interview with Chris Packham in The Guardian -

Chris Packham's Twitter page -

Guest post from Dick Newell (Action for Swifts) on Mark Avery's blog -

Article in the June edition of the BBC Wildlife magazine (available in good newsagents) -

Last, but not certainly not least, our work to save Bromley's swifts and Swift Awareness Week was covered by the Bromley News Shopper this week -

Friday, 15 June 2018

Discover Lilly's Wood - Orpington's hidden gem

Discover Lilly's Wood - Orpington's hidden gem

In 2017 local ecologist Jamie Fletcher closely studied the wildlife in Lilly's Wood, near Orpington. Visiting at least once every month, his report reveals the wood's secrets in extraordinary detail.

Jamie was thrilled to discover that the wood was home to one of our rarest and loveliest summer migrant birds - the spotted flycatcher. Though subdued in colour, this "little brown job" is charming in its behaviour. It takes up position on its favourite branch or fence post before launching itself into the air to catch its insect prey, swooping down on it just like a tiny falcon. This was a real find as spotted flycatcher was previously assumed to be extinct in the London Borough of Bromley.

In winter the farmland around the wood proved to be a magnet for flocks of declining farmland birds such as skylark, linnet, yellowhammer and meadow pipit.

Above all, Jamie's work shows the value of watching the birds closely in your local patch. By keeping tabs on the birdlife in a nearby area (e.g. a park or wood), you can find out valuable information that could be used to influence the future management of the site. The information could also inform the council's decisions on planning applications. It's also hugely enjoyable and rewarding to gain an intimate understanding of your local birdlife and how it changes through the seasons and from year to year.

If you would like to sign-up to record the birds on your local patch, please email the RSPB Bromley Local Group's Recorder, Peter Smart, on

You can read Jamie's full report on the link below. Jamie has also written an article on Lilly's Wood on our "Places to see birds" page.

Download file

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Summer newsletter on its way

Summer newsletter on its way

Our summer newsletter is almost ready. Group Members can pick up their free copy at our talk on Operation Turtle Dove on Wednesday 13 June.

It's a packed edition. Inside you'll find:

An expert guide to Lilly's Wood, Orpington's hidden wildlife gem

The results from our 2018 survey of Bromley's garden birds

An update on our Bromley Swift Borough project

A closer look at one of our favourite seabirds, the guillemot

A special photographic section on the amazing places our borough's birds have managed to nest in this spring.

And much more!

Group membership costs £5 for the whole year. You can join as a member at next week's talk or email