News archive

July 2016

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Saturday 13th August, coach trip to Rye Harbour

Saturday 13th August, coach trip to Rye Harbour

Rye Harbour - a fantastic place that's difficult to sum up in a few words. The Nature Reserve lies within a large triangle of land which extends eastwards from Winchelsea Beach to the mouth of the River Rother and north to Rye. It includes many different habitats; intertidal saltmarsh, reclaimed saltmarsh, drainage ditches, shingle ridges, sand, marsh, pits and scrub which together make it one of the best birdwatching sites in Sussex.

We can hope to see a wide variety of waders; little ringed plover, dunlin, greenshank and common, green and wood sandpipers are around at this time. Curlew sandpipers and little stints are also not unknown. Wildfowl include wigeon, common teal, shoveler and sometimes a few garganeys in eclipse plumage. Raptors include marsh harrier, osprey and if we're lucky, honey buzzard. The passerine species start to increase at this time of year and include yellow wagtail, northern wheatear, redstart, whinchat, spotted flycatcher and a wide variety of warblers, whilst hirundines - swifts, swallows and martins form large flocks which in turn attract hobbies and sparrowhawks. There is of course a wide variety of non-bird wildlife as well - I've never been to Rye without seeing a few hares, for example.

We are a RSPB members group who run coach trips to good birding sites most months. All are welcome to join us, from expert birders to complete beginners - if you are new to birding one of our more experienced members will show you whatever is around and provide explanations where necessary. Don't worry if you don't own a pair of binoculars - we can lend you a pair for the day if you let us know in advance. Dress for the weather with stout footwear, remembering that it may well be cooler at the coast or in the country than in central London, and bring a packed lunch.

Suggested donation to Sussex Wildlife Trust £1.00 will be collected on the coach.
Booking essential. Contact Derik Palmer on 07768 121 435, or email
Paid up Central London Local Group members £18.00, non-members £20.00.
Meet outside Embankment Underground Station. Coach leaves at 8am.

For reserve information see:

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Enfield Swift Emergency

Enfield Swift Emergency

A swift enthusiast has alerted us to the fact that a huge development in the Borough of Enfield is going to destroy a colony of swifts - reportedly the only one for quite some distance around. The large swift colony (at least 20 birds) is at Shepcot House, 119 Cowper Gardens, Southgate, N14.

The proposal submitted to Enfield Council is for Demolition of Shepcot House, Oakwood Lodge, Beardow Grove, Coverack Close and garages rear of Lousada Lodge and phased redevelopment of site involving construction of new road to provide 412 residential units comprising 239 flats and maisonettes (109 x 1-bed, 116 x 2-bed, 14 x 3-bed) and 173 houses (85 x 2-bed, 74 x 3-bed, 14 x 4-bed) within a mix of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9-storey buildings, erection of a nursery and community building (Class D1), construction of an energy centre, formation of play space including play area at Cowper Gardens open space and provision of 330 surface and undercroft car parking spaces.

Please would north-London members write to Enfield Council, and copy the local councillors and the biodiversity officer, to ask that the council protect this swift colony and take mitigation measures by requiring that (a) works be phased so as to enable protection of the colony; (b) that no works should be done to disturb birds during any breeding season, (c) very importantly, that mitigation measures must be put in place in the new development - ie the phased provision of new nest sites in the form of swift bricks, (d) and that the full and active advice of the borough ecologist and Swift Conservation ( is taken by the council. Advice should immediately and urgently be sought, and monitoring of the swift colony be started during this swift season (now until the swifts leave in August) and continued in subsequent breeding seasons (essentially May, June and July).
The application reference number is: 16/01578/FUL

Anyone may write during public consultations on planning applications. Comments on material matters (of which this is one) may be made at any time before the planning decision is made. Please would other members also write. Even a very brief two-line email or online comment is valuable. Swifts are now Amber-listed Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK.

If any members can urgently go and look at this site for swifts, please let us know your sightings. You are more likely to see them in the evenings. Also, the first two weeks of July are good times to see screaming parties when young ones are prospecting for nest sites for next year.

The link to the planning application is: