At the beginning of the month Leica Sport Optics Ambassador and London Wildlife Trust Ambassador, David Lindo, AKA The Urban Birder, guided a walk around the London Wildlife Trusts Walthamstow Wetlands Reserve. Born and raised in London, Davids main passion is for urban birds, and he devotes his time to promoting the appreciation and conservation of the birds that share our city lives. Having supported the London Wildlife Trust last year by funding the installation of seven new benches at their Walthamstow Wetlands site, it was the clear location for the walk. As well as being a fully operational 211 hectare Thames Water reservoir site, which is the main source of water supply for 3.5 million people, Walthamstow Wetlands is also an internationally important nature reserve, providing home and shelter to a wide range of wildlife, from rare waterfowl to majestic birds of prey.

For the walk David was supported by fellow bird-guide Lol Bodini. Laurence, known to everyone as Lol, grew up in London and has been a keen birder since his early teens. Lol works at Walthamstow Wetlands, assisting with the daily running of the busy visitor centre and guiding local walks. That day he acted as David’s spotter, with an excellent spot of a curlew flying overhead right at the beginning of the walk.

Between David and Lol it was a walk of endless facts. Did you know that the European wren is the only one of over 80 species of wren that exists outside of America? Did you know that the turkey replaced the mute swan on the menu for Christmas dinner? And did you know that the mute swan was named so as they are so much less vocal than other swans? As well as wrens and swans we had blackcap, European greenfinch, charms of goldfinch. The elegant common tern flew overhead throughout the walk.

We saw egrets, a heron fishing. We learnt the difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks. Diving ducks feed mainly by diving underwater, like the tufted ducks we saw. While dabbling ducks feeds predominantly on the surface, like the mallard. We saw quite a few great crested grebe. Beautiful birds who in the past were hunted for their ornate head plumes, which were used for millinery (hat-making). They nearly went extinct as a result, and were in fact the reason the RSPB was created. Towards the end of the walk we had singing reed warbler, and as we approached the cormorant roost the weather that had been threatening throughout the walk finally broke and we had to make a dash for the Engine House for cover.

A little later, after the weather had cleared, David headed out with Leica Sport Optics Ambassador Mya Bambrick for Walk 7 of her 21 Wildlife Walks. You can watch what they got up to here:


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And you can support Mya’s campaign fundraising for the BTO here:


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