Birdwatching

There are birds aplenty just in Highgate and Queen’s Woods, Alexandra Palace Park, the Woodberry Wetlands, the Parkland Walk, Hampstead Heath and so on. You can expect to see our common urban birds, such as goldfinches, wrens and long tailed tits but we will also seek out the more elusive, including migrant birds in the autumn and spring. Excursions will take us to the Lee Valley and the London Wetland Centre

Experienced bird watchers are very welcome, but it is anticipated that most group members will not have an extensive knowledge of bird watching.

You will need decent binoculars (8×25 or 8×42 are good), appropriate footwear and raingear if the weather threatens. Each visit will have a maximum of 10 participants (though the group as a whole may be larger).

  • Frequency: Monthly
  • When: A Friday morning, from 10.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
  • Where: We will visit locations in the immediate area, and subsequently may travel further afield for up to whole-day excursions, as members wish
  • Number of places per meeting: Up to 10 members

Group Convener: Rosemary Szyszkowski

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Our Outings

February 2018 – Alexandra Park

Alexandra Palace Park was the venue for our February bird watch with local resource, Trevor Wyatt, joining us for the morning as guide, whose speciality is identifying birdsong. As it was a fine, spring-like morning the birds were in good voice and we were soon able to detect several by song and then visual observation. The walk started at the Farmer’s Market entrance following the path up to the Grove, from there we walked under the bridge and up to the lake, then down passed the pitch & putt course and on to the reservoir. In all, and with Trevor’s considerable help, we saw thirty different types of bird including Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Mistlethrush and flocks of Redwing, Dunnock and Wren, Greenfinch and Chaffinch, Blackheaded gulls in their winter plumage, Pochard and Heron. After a thoroughly engaging session and with winter clouds approaching we headed back for soup at our convener’s, and a meeting to draw up our schedule for the coming months.

Photographs by Fran McKenzie

January 2018 – Woodberry Wetlands

In contrast to our last outing, the January weather was kindly with an intermittent gleam of sunshine. Our route from Finsbury Park followed the New River all the way (crossing over Seven Sisters Road) to Woodberry Wetlands. A song thrush, high amongst the tree tops sang a delightful welcome on our arrival at the park. There was a wide range of birds on the park lake including red crested pochard, tufted duck and Egyptian geese. Unfortunately the first quarter mile beside the New River was slippery, thick mud, however, we were rewarded for our efforts by seeing many of our favourites – robin, goldfinch, blue and great tit, blackbird and chaffinch – before coming across a tree sheltering several redwing. The wetlands reservoir was equally rewarding with grebe, a variety of gulls including black-headed and lesser black-backed, a veritable host of coot, moorhen, mute swans, and at a distance, several male and female shovelers. Another enjoyable trip and another good café to check over our sightings and warm our binocular wielding fingers!

Photographs by Jon Raper

December 2017 – Walthamstow Wetlands

On a bitterly cold day, nine birdwatchers arrived at the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands for our second group outing. Within moments of arrival we had a greater spotted woodpecker in our sights and later we checked out great crested and little grebe, tufted duck, heron, pochard, greylag and Canada geese , pied and grey wagtail, plus more; in all about twenty-two different types of bird. At one point a flight of thrush (redwing?) shot over our heads and an unseen Cetti’s warbler enticed us with a few notes. The local cormorants were an interesting sight, sharing their guano covered island with grey heron. Two local fishermen were keen to give us their views (mostly positive!) on the development of this extraordinary wetland. After two hours the very smart information centre and café were a welcome retreat from the biting wind.

2nd November 2017 – Queen’s Wood

Eleven birdwatchers set out on a beautiful, autumn morning for our very first group birdwatch. In bright sunshine we walked quietly through the cricket grounds, alongside the Shepherd’s Hill allotments and into Queen’s Wood. As leaves slowly cascaded from oaks and hornbeams, we stopped to practise our listening and observational skills and got to grips with our binoculars. We were eventually rewarded with a range of the most common birds – jays, wood pigeons, magpies, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits, ring-necked parakeets (flying low over our heads) and crows. We identified several robins robustly maintaining their territories, caught an exciting glimpse of a foraging tree creeper and heard a woodpecker. At the end of almost two hours we retired to the local cafes and agreed it had been a pretty good start!