The days are getting longer and spring officially started. So, we asked urban birder David Lindo to name ten of his top spots for birding in the UK. David is passionate about introducing new audiences to the pleasures of birding, encouraging people of all ages living in all parts of the country to give it a try, enjoying the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.
When he was just three years old his mum recalls him going missing during a family gathering. A search party was dispatched and Mrs Lindo eventually found her son standing outside a churchyard, watching Magpies! David wants to share his passion for our country’s beautiful birds with the nation so dust off those binoculars and follow in his footsteps to enjoy this stunning season in all its glory.
Wormwood Scrubs is my favourite place in the whole world. Why? Because this large park in in west London was virtually unknown as a birding venue when I first visited there over 25 years ago. It is the place where I first realised that by simply looking up you could see so many birds. It is a great place to look for northward bound spring migrants like gorgeous Wheatears and my favourite bird, the Ring Ouzel.
Lundy Island is hardly urban but it fulfils another desire that I have – my love of being on islands. Situated in the Bristol Channel this magical island is a magnet for rare birds. Springtime will also see the return of the island’s breeding seabirds including Manx Shearwater, Guillemots and the comical looking Puffin.
Alderney in the Channel Islands is another of my favourite islands in the UK. I love the fact that it is small and easy to walk around as well as being like a throwback to earlier times when people used to keep their doors open. The bird life is pretty special too and they have even established a new Bird Observatory on the island. Spring is a great time to look for Ravens and returning Gannets.
Conwy RSPB Reserve is a funky little nature reserve in North Wales that I have had some great times at watching birds like Common Sandpiper feeding along the shoreline of the lake there. It is also pretty urban too which always helps to make me feel more at home!
Barons Haugh RSPB Reserve in Motherwell, Scotland is a little gem. Sandwiched between Motherwell and Hamilton it is a great place to observe the ordinarily unobtrusive Kingfisher and the reedbed dwelling Water Rail. For some reason these birds can sometimes parade out in the open, seemingly without a care in the world!
Walthamstow Wetlands in east London has romantic connotations for me. Run by the London Wildlife Trust, it is not only is it a great spot to watch Common Terns in the spring fresh back from their wintering areas of the southern Africa, it is also the site where I once took a girl on a date. However, far from having a romantic stroll, I stood her under cold grey rainy skies for two hours waiting for a rare Dusky Warbler to emerge from a bush!
Hartlepool Headland in Cleveland is an oddity as a birding venue. To the average eye it is just a neighbourhood by the coast. To a birder, it is a potential oasis. During spring many migrant birds make first landfall along the east coast including this headland. In bumper years, tired birds can be found in the residents’ gardens and even on their houses.
Hull is another unlikely birding nirvana. This Yorkshire city is often much derided for not containing anything of interest to outsiders. But I beg to differ. There are some great places in the city to watch birds and springtime at Paull Holme Strays can be pretty special. Watch out for newly arrived Swallows as well as wading birds.
Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve is a stones throw from the busy George Best Belfast City Airport yet it is a fabulous place to watch for spring migration. Despite its tiny size it packs a mighty punch and is always seemingly buzzing with gulls and terns.
Saltholme RSPB Reserve is Stockton and Middlesbrough’s pièce de résistance. With a backdrop of oil refineries and factory towers – the visual inspiration for local boy Ridley Scott in his iconic film, Bladerunner – it was certainly a marshy wildlife oasis. It is possible to be here during the spring and watch great birds like Barn Owls and Marsh Harriers.
David is an Ambassador for Leica Sports Optics. Leica have a range of Sports Optics perfect for bird watching starting from £421 for the Trinovid Compact 8 x 20 BCA Compact Binoculars. For further information on Leica Sports Optics and store locations visit: https://www.leicastore-uk.co.uk/collections/sport-optics