News archive

November 2010

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Walk at Walthamstow Reservoirs

Walk at Walthamstow Reservoirs

Tajinder, our Guided Walks Leader, briefly described the walk as follows:-

"A total of 30 people were interested in the walk, but unfortunately I had to turn away quite a few, most of these were potential newcomers who saw the advert in the local Waltham Forest News.

I always welcome newcomers, but group numbers need to be manageable otherwise breakaway groups are formed and only people at the front can hear the leader. So apologies to all those I turned away.

We had two good things on our side, the weather and Roy Woodward who agreed to lead my walk at the last minute, particularly as we had 17 people in attendance. We had a total group list of 51 birds, very impressive!

The highlights included: short eared owl and kingfisher in the car park before we set off. We also had greater and lesser black backed gulls and herring gulls. There were teal, pochard, shelduck, shoveler, goldeneye and gadwall on some of the reservoirs.
Some of us had fleeting glimpses of meadow pipit, brambling, redwing, grey wagtail, ring necked parakeet and siskin.

Thanks to Cliff and the other staff at the Walthamstow Reservoirs, the staff were very welcoming and accommodating."

[Ed: We were standing in the car park - sorting out the day permits - when someone called that a raptor was being mobbed by crows above us. The raptor looked a little strange and suddenly I realised that the head was owl-shaped!
I couldn't believe it when Roy identified it as a short-eared owl - only my second sighting of this bird and my first 'London' short-eared owl. It is unusual enough that the report of its sighting soon appeared on various bird websites!
Thanks to the walk participants who were happy for me to take their photo - sorry I didn't get you all in the photo.]

Click on the link below for more information about visiting Walthamstow Reservoirs

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Female house sparrow perched on dead branch

London's Stars - House Sparrows, Swifts and Peregrine (& Roding Valley Tree planting)

Martyn Foster, from the RSPB's London office, very kindly allowed Richard Lambert (Community Consultation Coordinator from 'Trees for Cities') to speak for the first 10 minutes of the meeting.
'Trees for Cities' is an independent charity working with local communities on tree planting projects in urban areas and Richard presented the plan for planting whips (young trees) in Roding Valley. They are working with the London Borough of Redbridge and wanted our group to know about this initiative.

If anyone wants to make any suggestions regarding species of plants/trees to be planted in the woodland then they would be more than welcome (contact Richard on 020 7820 4420 or email him at

Then Martyn gave us a very interesting presentation telling us about the above iconic London birds and how the RSPB is working to support them.

The decline in London's House Sparrows has been very dramatic and various planting schemes are being tried and studied in London's Parks to try and find how the availability of seeds, insects etc. may be affecting our sparrows (for further info put this link into your browser - ).

Our Swifts are also in trouble and it is feared that the loss of their nesting sites is a major problem as old buildings are 'improved' so there are no nooks and crannies for birds (including the Sparrow).
New builds do not have space for birds unless specific measures (which can be very simple) are applied (for further info on how you can help put this link into your browser - ).

To end on a much more upbeat note, Martyn described how well cliff-nesting Peregrines have adapted to our London 'cliffs' i.e. our high rise buildings. Many thousands of people have delighted at the sight of the Peregrines which each year use the chimney at Tate Modern.

To end his talk, Martyn played us a compilation of videos from the Peregrine webcam sited at the Palace of Westminster showing footage of the Peregrine chicks there this year - definitely an 'aaah' moment!

Click on the link below to see some past video of nesting Peregrines in Westminster. It's not as entertaining as Martyn's (and doesn't have his voice over!) - you'll just have to come to our talks to experience the real thing!