Surveying Birds in Hampstead Heath

Updated: Apr 24

My first London Bird Survey


I have very quickly realised that encouraging families to get out into London's green spaces has become as much of a benefit for me as it will be for them.

Whilst I have always been a huge lover of nature, walking and London, I have never once thought of putting all of those interests together. Although the #LdnGreenGround challenge is something I plan on doing each Sunday, I am of course using my time to do other things to help me to discover different places and experiences around London whilst learning around it's history and nature.


I love birds and I find listening to bird song so relaxing, something that brings out so much joy in me. However, I have never spent time to learn about them past seeing and hearing the beauties.

I recently started a short birdwatching course which I am really enjoying so when I saw a Bird Survey being carried out at Hampstead Heath by the @LNHSoc ( Natural History Society of London), I thought I would give it a go.

I turned up at Hampstead Heath train station slightly early. The rain had already started coming down and there was additional forecasts of 50mph winds. Whilst I'm no expert, I didn't think that would be great for spotting our little feathered friends, but rain doesn't tend to dissuade me so I popped into a nearby cafe for a light breakfast!

I got to the station just a few minutes before 9.30 and was met by Cat and Pete turned up just a few minutes later. Whilst both agreed that many of the birds would be sensibly, avoiding the wind and rain, we proceeded walking over to the Heath.

It was a really wonderful experience which lasted 4 hours. As someone who knew very little, Cat and Pete were such great teachers, pointing things out, explaining behaviour, calls and songs and most importantly, being great company!


When we were at the top of the heath, we saw a flock of birds that were migrating. It was identified as such because they were flying continuously, in one direction and on a mission. Pete also pointed out a wonderful sight which was a crow, 'playing' in the wind. Using it to be moved around against the natural flows.

There are so many lakes on the Heath which support a great many species, feeding on weeds, algae, invertebrates and fish. On such a cold and dreary day, I was astounded to witness people swimming in the designated ones. How brave but I hear it's great for health so I'm sure they are all onto something...although I unfortunately couldn't say that I would be joining them any time soon!

We stoped at two very critical sphagnum bogs which supported the rare sphagnum moss and supported a range of other species. Having spent some time in Snowdonia, Sphagnum is everywhere, so I took it for granted that it wasn't a rarity! Therefore, it was great to discover this special habitat in London.

At one point we came across some birch surrounded by some logs (possibly a year old). It was filled with a range of fungus which were so stunning and varied in their species. Whilst I was there to spot birds, I could have spent a very long time just looking at and photographing all the different kinds - a completely wonderful habitat!


I had been informed that this year, the kingfishers hadn't produced any offspring which was unusual and therefore worrying. They also thought perhaps one of the pair had died. Fortunately whilst at one of the lakes they spotted a flash of blue which to our relief and joy, showed that they were still on the Heath.

Throughout the day, the calls of the treecreeper, long tailed tit, gold crest and others were being pointed out to me. It was right at the end of the walk when I witnessed a beautiful little tree creeper, creeping up a big tree. Such a wonderful way to end such an eye opening experience.

I will definitely be looking out for more of the varied events they put on! London Natural History Society Events


Some of the species seen (or heard by me) Kingfisher; Herons; Magpies; Crows; Wood pigeons; Blue tits, Great tits; Longtailed tits; Robins; Swans; Mallards; Tufted ducks; Crested grebes; Mandarin ducks; Coots; Moorhens; Tree creepers; Goldcrest; Green woodpecker; Wrens; Goldfinch

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