spring is in the air
spring is in the air
Walthamstow Wetlands is London’s largest wetland nature reserve. Having opened to the wider public for the very first time in 150 years in October last year, the 211 hectare site, including 10 reservoirs, has attracted a large number of nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts from across the capital. With spring in full bloom, Walthamstow Wetlands is a bustle of activity and bird song. Hundreds of birds are busily building their nests and raising their young, the flowers are blossoming and the frogs are spawning – a few reasons why the site is a special home to wildlife both resident and rare.
There is a vast array of wonderful wildlife to see on your next visit to Walthamstow Wetlands. London Wildlife Trust has worked with Thames Water and Waltham Forest Council on a long-term project to improve wildlife habitats across the reserve, planting reedbeds, trees and wildflower meadows. The nature reserve is internationally important for its birdlife, and yet only 15 minutes from central London.
Migrating birds such as martins, pipits and yellow wagtail can be seen overhead so make sure you take a moment to look up. Keep your eyes open also for wheatear and little ringed plover stopping off at the reservoirs - the wheatear resting before carrying on as far as Greenland. Running and cycling are allowed on the main route through Walthamstow Wetlands but are not permitted on the reservoir banks, where these and other birds may be scared away from their vital pit stops.
In total, there have been 180 nests counted onsite. Visitors can hear the very vocal cormorant chicks begging for food and also see lesser black backed gulls breeding on the East Warwick Island. As London’s largest heronry, Walthamstow Wetlands is an important breeding ground for grey heron - forty heron nests have been counted with plenty more hidden in the trees. The site continues to offer a breeding ground for little egret – in fact, Walthamstow Wetlands was the first place in London where the little egret started successfully breeding in 2006, having hopped over the Channel from mainland Europe. It is also hoped that London’s only breeding pair of greater black backed gulls will once again return to the site. As part of the ongoing habitat enhancement at Walthamstow Wetlands, seasonal gates have been installed around the site to protect these breeding and nesting birds behind them.
Spring sights also include butterflies such as tortoiseshell, red admiral and brimstone, feeding on the nectar-rich plants on warmer days. There are also a variety of blossoming trees, including lovely willows and birches.
Spring is always considered a good month for birding at Walthamstow Wetlands but this year it is proving truly exceptional. The highlight so far has been a stunning male white-spotted bluethroat - the first at Walthamstow since 1936. Other rare sightings have included a male european serin, an over-wintering little bunting and the spectacular hoopoe - last seen at the reservoirs some twenty years ago. It is estimated that well over 1,000 birders, from as far afield as Liverpool and Limerick, came to see and enjoy the little bunting over its 77-day stay.
Walthamstow Wetlands offers a unique opportunity to connect audiences with nature in the very heart of an urban setting. Working with the local community, Walthamstow Wetlands serves people of all ages and interests, encouraging them to use the space to observe wildlife and get close to nature. Spring is an especially great time to visit and learn about why the site is so special and needs to be protected