Places to see birds

High Elms Country Park, Orpington

High Elms Country Park, Orpington
Small skipper David Linstead Bromley RSPB

On entering High Elms Country Park you feel as if you have left behind the last remnants of London and emerged into the peaceful Kentish countryside. The Park offers 250 acres of woodland and grassland to explore and is rich in wildlife.


High Elms lies south of Farnborough and northeast of Downe in the south of the London Borough of Bromley. There are two car parks, both off High Elms Road. These are the main car park (Sat Nav coordinates: N51.35238 E0.07449) and Cuckoo Wood car park (N51.34316 E0.06611). There are also numerous entrances for pedestrians.


The site is situated at the western end of the North Downs and is made up of broadleaved woodland, with areas of chalk grassland and ponds. High Elms Country Park forms part of the Downe Bank and High Elms Site of Special Scientific Interest.


Resident/Regular: A great place for woodland birds. High Elms has breeding populations of marsh tit, nuthatch, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker and song thrush. Birds favouring scrub such as bullfinch and dunnock also breed in good numbers. Green woodpeckers can often be seen in the chalk grasslands foraging for ants. Tawny owl, little owl, sparrowhawk and kestrel have all bred in recent years.

Winter Migrants: Fieldfare, redwing, siskin.

Summer Migrants: Chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat. Sadly, turtle dove, nightingale and cuckoo have not been recorded as breeding since 1994 and spotted flycatcher has not been a breeding species since 2004, reflecting these species' declines across southeastern England.

Rare/Occasional: Hobby, brambling, redpoll, woodcock.

Local ecologist Jamie Fletcher has produced reports on the birds of two of the woods in High Elms:

Cuckoo Wood

Blacklands Wood

Other species

High Elms is also home to many other species. For example 30 butterfly and 400 moth species and six species of bats have been recorded. The coppiced hazel woods also hold a population of dormice. The meadows are rich in wildflowers including many species of orchid.

Information taken from Bromley Council, "High Elms Country Park Local Nature Reserve Management Plan 2015-2020" (October 2015).

The image shows a small skipper photographed in the large meadow, High Elms. Large, grizzled and dingy skippers also occur here at appropriate times in the Spring and Summer.