Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Site #8 Northern Section Walthamstow Reservoirs

Access to the Northern Section of the reservoirs is via the gate opposite the car park by the Fishermans Lodge in Ferry Lane. The code to the gate is by the permit desk, don’t worry you won’t get locked in!

The Ferry Boat pub is next to the gate and has a reasonable selection of Beers, the food is middling which is more than one could say about the service, though it seems to be under new management and the staff certainly seemed much more with it on my last visit than previously, maybe the food has improved too, it has a nice Beer garden overlooking the reservoirs and is quite a pleasant extension to a Summer visit if you have the time. (just checked some recent reviews...oh dear!)

As you enter the Northern complex the River Lea or one of its components flows South along your Left hand side. The Scrub and Bushes along its edges can often hold Warblers and even occasionally a Flycatcher or Chat. Small Red-eyed Damselflies have recently been found on the floating Weed. Immediately to the North is a Weir which is the haunt of many Moorhens and sometimes a pair of Egyptian Geese, Little Egrets roost in the dead Tree opposite on occasion.

The reservoir on your Right is the Low Maynard and behind that is the High Maynard, which is higher and has a couple of islands. There is a Tern raft on the former. The Low Maynard has natural banks and overhanging Trees under which such things as Smew and Kingfishers have been known to skulk. The High Maynard is concrete sided and is more likely to hold the odd Wader.

The factories to the East used to hold breeding Black Redstarts, many years ago, they occasionally still turn up but seldom linger long. The overflow channel which forms the Eastern boundary to the site is best when nearly empty and can hold feeding Little Egrets and Waders, the latter especially in cold weather.

The Lockwood is reached by walking North and climbing the stairs. It is the biggest and possibly the best reservoir on site. Its Banks are concrete, apart from the West bank, which is natural. If you are going to find Waders this is the most likely reservoir, the Northern end is most favoured as it is seldom disturbed, Fisherman prefer the other reservoirs it seems. You really need to walk the whole thing as scoping will not reveal anything small at the furthest reaches. There is a Tern raft on here too, in 2011 Black-headed Gulls bred for the first time. Winter Duck and Grebes often favour this reservoir.

Not to be forgotten is the prospect for skywatching in season, the best vantage point is halfway up the East bank by the square concrete blockhouse, it gives an elevated 360° view. Don’t forget to look straight up too, it is amazing how constant scanning, even by more than one set of eyes fail to pick up overhead migrants until they are....overhead! Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Buzzard, Osprey are all annual but you have to put the time in. Spring and Autumn are obviously best but really anything can fly over at anytime.

Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine all breed nearby and are often seen, Hobby is becoming scarcer in recent years but it only takes one pair to breed nearby and they can then be seen daily during the Summer.

The Grassy banks are good for pulling in migrating Passerines, from Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting in the Winter (both rare) to flocks of Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Wheatears etc on passage. Short-eared Owls have wintered in the past and roosted on the grassy slopes along with Long-eared Owls in the Lea side bushes, the first named is a scarce passage bird and the last named a mere memory though it would be worth checking in Owl years.

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