In this three-part series we asked the Leica Sport Optics Ambassadors, and some close friend’s of Leica, what their favourite local walk is. Join Leica as we travel across the UK, uncovering new spots to inspire you to get outside and explore with fresh eyes.
David Lindo AKA The Urban Birder, Leica Sport Optics Ambassador
My favourite walk is in west London at the birding oasis that is Wormwood Scrubs. At first glance The Scrubs, as it’s locally known, may not seem like the sort of place that would attract birds. Covering 183 acres, it’s an attractive park encircled by a thin band of woodland dominated by sycamore, birch and plane, with over half the central area taken up with football pitches.
There is a small grassland at the western end that, at this time of year, is home to small flocks of wintering Meadow Pipit plus, a few Stonechats and Reed Buntings. Despite being surrounded by urbanisation and under the impending threat from HS2 development, the site’s appeal to nature is astounding.
1. Search the eastern edge from the car park along Scrubs Lane Wood for woodpeckers, Chaffinches and other finches.
2. The north eastern corner of Scrubs Lane Wood through to Chat Paddock can be productive for Goldcrests as well as wintering thrushes.
3. The edge of Chat Paddock is also worth checking. Aside from Robins and tits, scarcities like Woodcock and Dartford Warbler have all been found here.
4. The Embankment attracts almost anything from marauding Sparrowhawks to, on one occasion, overflying White-fronted Geese. Linnets and Jays are also worth looking for.
5. The grassland area can sometimes yield Meadow Pipits with the odd Skylark for company. Stonechat winter and Goldfinches are usually around too.
6. Martin Bell’s Wood is a good spot to search for secretive Woodcock.
One of the great things about birding The Scrubs is the possibility of finding something extremely interesting like the overwintering Common Redstart that I found one Christmas. So, get over there and treat yourself to some good festive urban birding.
David uses the NOCTIVID 10×42 here.
Find out more about David on his website: https://theurbanbirderworld.com
Lizzie Daly, Wildlife Broadcaster and Leica Sport Optics Ambassador
In walking distance from my house I can follow a circular route right into nature including 150 acres of broadleaved woodlands. The habitat is a mix of old conifer plantation, heathland, wildflower meadow and ponds. The woodland still has coniferous plantation (including the now limited to upland Scotland, Scots Pine) that goes back to the afforestation of the site in the 1920s, however the site is being turned back into deciduous woodland encouraging a wide range of biodiversity.
I’ve seen badgers, fox and birds – and most recently I’ve seen Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Goldcrests and Great spotted woodpecker. In warmer months reptiles, such as Slow Worm, Common Lizard and Grass Snake all use the heathland, basking in the warmth of the low vegetation and open patches of ground. There are a number of hazel dormice nest boxes set up around this route too, which is pretty exciting to see as they are increasingly rare.
My favourite time to walk this route is right now! These trails are a lot quieter in the colder months and the deep orange winter sunshine captures the real essence of this wild spot on my doorstep. I encourage everyone to step outside and explore their doorstep!
Lizzie uses the ULTRAVID 8×42 HD-Plus.
Learn more about Lizzie on her website: www.lizziedaly.com
ATM, Street Artist and Friend of Leica
Dering Wood in mid November is largely quiet, unlike the tumult of song that greets the walker in spring and early summer, when chiffchaffs, blackcaps, garden warblers and nightingales blazon their territories from coppiced hazel, sweet chestnut and poplar, and song thrushes sing from high standard oaks. Crossing north into hornbeam and birch woods, family groups of long tailed tits move through the late autumn foliage. Here hedgerows are dense with blackthorn, hanging thick with purple sloes, in stark contrast to savagely flailed hedges around the open fields. Up the hill and past Egerton churchyard, past a big old badger sett in the slope, a sparrowhawk races less than a metre above the ploughed field, holding tight to the hedge line.
There’s a long row of windbreak poplars on the lane to Egerton House, where a flock of starlings in their spangled winter coats chortle in the big trees at the top, satisfied that the labours of summer are over. They fly down to the orchard and up again in waves, as the familiar chack chack of flustered looking fieldfares nervously flicking their tails sounds from the high branches.
ATM is currently using the TRINOVID 8×20 BCA.
See more of ATM’s work on his Instagram: @atmstreetart
Photo credit: inspiringcity.com
Will Rose, Animator and Friend of Leica
My favourite local walk is an area of woodland that makes up part of The Great North Wood’s. It is just a fifteen-minute walk away from my flat in South London. This area of ancient woodland has provided me with species that I’d never thought I’d see on a regular basis in London. Breeding Firecrests, Treecreepers, Sparrowhawks, Red Kite and buzzards overhead and a resident Peregrine that nests on a mast that overlooks the woodland.
I work as an animator and designer on children’s shows such as Hey Duggee and Peppa Pig. I have been interested in wildlife , especially birds, since I was a young boy. In recent years I have begun to combine my love of nature with my passion for creating animated films.
Last summer I created an animated homage to the Leica stand at Birdfair . While I was working on the project, Leica loaned me a pair of Ultravid 10×42 HD-Plus. It was perfect timing as I was extremely lucky to have a pair of hobbies nesting in my wood. During lockdown they have been my saviour. To be able to see them so crisply through the Ultravids is something I will never forget. They were perfect for spotting the young birds in the treetops and the adult birds overhead. My favourite moment has to be when I saw a parent bird bring in a swift and pluck it on an exposed oak branch. I watched the bird for some time before it flew off to its young. A magic moment!
You can buy the ULTRAVID 10×42 HD-Plus here.
You can find out more about Wills animated films here: www.willswork.co.uk
If you go on any of these walks, or if you’d like to share your own local walk, please tag us for a chance to be featured, and #LeicaNatureWalks.