Spring at the Wetlands

Spring at the Wetlands

We invite you to see the wonder of a wild spring unfold at Walthamstow Wetlands, an amazing nature reserve in London that provides a special home to wildlife. Internationally designated for its importance for wildlife, the Wetlands is now a bustle of activity with birds building nests, foxes finding their mates, hedgehogs awaking from hibernation, flower buds blossoming and frogs spawning. As the weather warms, visitors can catch sight of rare birds passing through and the unfolding colours of flowers as they emerge to attract bees and butterflies.

Spring is a busy time for birds such as cormorant, common pochard, tufted duck, coot, yellow wagtail and peregrine falcon who will be courting their mates and building nests in preparation for hatching their offspring. Following on from the exquisite courtship display of the adults, the warm February has already seen a young great crested grebe hitching a ride on top of its parent’s back on Reservoir 3. A number of active heron nests can also be observed on Heron Island and little egrets are continuing to build their nests on several islands throughout the Wetlands. Plenty of smaller song birds, such as thrushes, finches and tits, can be seen and heard on the scrub and tree belts throughout the site, whilst peregrine falcon, sparrowhawk and kestrel can sometimes be spotted hunting overhead.  

blue tit at Walthamstow Wetlands

spring at Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands lies on key bird migratory routes and provides an important stop-over for many birds looking for food and respite on their travels, or a place to spend the summer. Visitors may catch sight of the last of the winter migrants returning north to Scandinavia, Russia and Arctic, including shoveler, redwing and fieldfare, and the influx of summer visitors from Africa and Europe, which reaches a crescendo over the next four weeks.  Many – including sedge and reed warblers, swift, swallow, and a range of waders, such as little-ringed plover and dunlin – will breed as the weather warms. Spring is also a great time for rarities that might potentially drop in or fly over; hoopoe, osprey, bluethroat and great white egret have all been seen in recent years. Furthermore, the swift calling system installed at Walthamstow Wetlands last summer will soon start playing high-quality recordings of their song every morning and evening to attract these fast-flying birds to nest in the 24-metre Swift Tower.

Butterflies such as brimstone, peacock and orange tip should emerge over the next few weeks, and queen bumble bees are already buzzing around the hedgerows looking to build nests to start new colonies. Amphibians such as smooth newts, frogs and toads are also becoming more and more active as spring arrives. In addition, visitors will be able to witness the changes to vegetation and habitats onsite - catkins of trees and shrubs with wind-borne pollen such as goat willow, hazel, common alder and poplar are now out, and some flowering trees are expressing their blossom, such as blackthorn and wild cherry.


To protect Walthamstow Wetlands' future legacy, London Wildlife Trust is working alongside Thames Water and the London Borough of Waltham Forest to ensure the long-term management of habitats. As part of the ongoing conservation work, the London Wildlife Trust team will be recording nest numbers and locations, surveying bird breeding patterns, undertaking the first ever survey for reptiles onsite and continuing the summer counts of dragonflies and butterflies alongside the regular bird counts of core species. Volunteers can also take part in a range of activities onsite, from assisting on an extensive programme of walks, working on practical conservation projects to improve habitats, getting involved in key surveying activities and supporting the education team with forest school and family activities.

As well as a number of volunteering opportunities, there will also be Easter egg hunt and decorating activities taking place between Saturday 20th April - Monday 22nd April to celebrate the Easter festivities. Children can take part in some imaginative egg decorating in the Turbine Room where there will be a selection of pens and paints to get colourful and creative followed by an egg hunt to explore the new life bursting onsite. There will also be a chocolatey prize to enjoy and take home for those that take part.

Engine House and Coppermill Stream

Butterfly at Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands offers a unique opportunity to connect people and nature within the city. A focal point for wildlife enthusiasts and those curious to learn more about the natural world, spring is a special time to visit the site and understand why it is both an important educational resource for visitors and local residents as well as an important habitat and wildlife haven that needs to be protected.

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “The weather might not always match up, but 21st March marks the arrival of Spring and Walthamstow Wetlands is the perfect place to enjoy the season.

“As we celebrate our year in the spotlight as the Mayor’s first ever London Borough of Culture, what better time to come to Waltham Forest to enjoy the largest urban wetlands in Europe.

You can get away from the bustle of London to learn more about the natural world and see wildlife thrive in a protected habitat. We are determined to do all we can to improve our resident’s quality of life, and are proud to have been part of this amazing conservation project.”