Three quarters of the way down Coppermill Lane, from the bottom of Walthamstow High Street lies the new filter beds, (new as in the 1960’s, compared to the now defunct Victorian filter beds further down at the Southern end of Walthamstow Marsh) the main attraction of these is the late afternoon pre-roost Gull build up. This is mostly a Winter thing and has held such goodies as Glaucous, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls. In the Spring and Autumn there are sometimes Wheatears, Pipits and Wagtails on the Grassy banks and the ‘football pitches’ at the back. Geese often feed on here and it is conceivable that Wild Geese could get mixed in with the ferals in harsh weather. House Martins breed and there are often Hirundines and Swifts swirling overhead, especially at passage times.
On the other side of the road lies No.5 reservoir, the largest island holds the Lion’s share of the breeding Cormorants, this was previously the Heronry but whilst they often loaf here they have moved onto No.1 island to breed. Check the island for Duck, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler all hang out here and Shelduck are usually to be found on the island. Ruddy Duck used to Winter in a medium sized flock, though no more, once a White-headed Duck stayed a while. Other good Wildfowl to watch out for are Goosander, Eider and Smew though none of these are too common. This tends to be one of the favourite reservoirs for Tufted Duck and often holds a Wintering Common Sandpiper.
The smaller island also has breeding Cormorants and sometimes Kingfishers; there is an obvious hole on the South side, though patience is required for a view. If you don’t have time to go around the reservoirs peeking through the fence here is often a good bet for increasing your day list either before or after a visit to the marsh as many of the typical reservoir species can be scoped.
Further down the Lane, after the last few houses is a large stand of Leylandii, some smaller Trees and then a group of tall Trees near to the old Copper Mill, all of this is worth checking as Parakeets have recently moved in, both Woodpeckers can be found and often Winter Thrushes are present in season.
Around the bend the Lane runs along the Coppermill stream, Long-eared Owls have roosted in adjacent Hawthorns on the reservoir side of the fence, but not for many years.
The Alders sometimes have Siskins and Redpolls if it is a good year locally for them and in Autumn there are always Tits and Warblers. The Lane ends for through traffic at a small car park but the marsh can be accessed either from the gate by the car park or by going under the Cattle creep (5’ headroom rail bridge).