RSPB Date With Nature: spotting birds and a few celebs on Hampstead Heath

Yesterday I was volunteering for the RSPB at one of their Date With Nature events on Hampstead Heath.

Down on Pond 10, we mostly kept the telescopes trained on a heron, and four cormorants sitting one on each corner of a jetty in the middle of the pond. There were also heaps of coots which spent most of the day having wing-flapping fights and trying to drown each other – hilarious to watch.

Over the course of the weekend, all the species spotted by the team or the public were recorded on a whiteboard, and we clocked up a massive list, including tufted ducks, ring-necked parakeets, gulls, tits, moorhens and even a red kite.

Hamish also found a tiny freshwater crayfish at the edge of the pond – an invasive species rather than a native one sadly but interesting nonetheless.

Up in the tent, we talked to people about becoming a member and about next weekend’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

I was in charge of the craft activity – making bird-feeders from apples, sunflower seeds and a piece of string which went down very well with the kids (and a few adults determined to have a go.)

Jess and Lyndon recruited a rather splendid six new members, and lots of people stopped to chat – including one familiar looking guy who we later confirmed as singer David Gray! A big bird fan it seems.

We also had a possible sighting of author Martin Amis but he didn’t slow down long enough for a positive identification…..

Locals told us if we’d been a bit earlier we might have seen the legendary Bill Oddie, who lives nearby and is often out on the Heath in the morning by all accounts.

A brilliant way to spend my Sunday – can’t wait for the Big Garden Birdwatch now!

Hope you’ve got your hour set aside to see what you can see in your own garden or local park….

Final stats for my day on the Heath:

  • Herons: 1
  • Cormorants: 4
  • Celebrities: 1 (possibly 2)
  • Chocolate Biscuits: approx 18 (half a large packet of choc digestives)

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