A Spring Walk at Walthamstow Wetlands

Dear Readers, today I went back to Walthamstow Wetlands to meet up with my dear friend S – I hadn’t seen her since before I went to Canada, so we had lots to talk about! So much, in fact, that by the time we actually started walking we only had about 30 minutes, but even so there was lots to see, like this very fine heron, who seemed unsure whether to fly off or to stay put when he saw us. We moved on and he decided to stay where he was, which was a relief – I do hate disturbing creatures, even by accident.

As we walked along the path by the edge of the reservoir, we noticed common terns flying back and forth between the various water bodies. This one sounded especially agitated, calling and calling, and it had a small fish in its mouth. Suddenly, I remembered something that happened when I was in Orkney. I was riding my bike with my boyfriend of the time when suddenly a pair of terns flew up and circled us, sounding most unhappy. One of them actually flew down and started to tweak my boyfriend’s ginger hair, and then another started what I can only describe as tapdancing on his head. We picked up speed and realised that the terns were just being territorial and trying to protect their nest – they’re ground nesters, and so their eggs and chicks are especially vulnerable. We moved on quickly and the tern seemed to settle down.

They are not easy birds to photograph, as the picture below will attest.

There are all manner of ducklings and goslings about, but I was especially taken with these Egyptian Goose youngsters – their parents were keeping a very close eye on them, but they were already pretty independent. When tiny, a lot of the young waterfowl are taken by gulls, but by the time they reach this size they’re pretty much safe.

And for anyone who hasn’t yet got their fill of damselflies, there was a new species (for me) at the entrance to the Wetlands – a banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens). We’d seen a male earlier (they have a dark band on their wings). This is a species that likes slow-flowing water, so I’m unlikely to find it in the pond, but there was a leisurely stream just behind the car park that seemed to be just the thing. It’s so nice to see something so beautiful.

So it was lovely to catch up with my friend, and to take a walk in nature. We both have our challenges at the moment, but there’s something about the fact that life goes on, with birds breeding and plants bursting forth and damselflies flittering, that is very consoling. I love to see the sheer variety of plants and animals at the Wetlands, and there is always something surprising and intriguing. So much so that we have a return visit planned for next week. Let’s see what we can see!

2 thoughts on “A Spring Walk at Walthamstow Wetlands

  1. Anne

    Your Canadian trip has been good for you: your posts are ‘sounding’ bouncy and relaxed. I enjoy seeing the Egyptian Goose so far away from where it belongs naturally.

  2. Liz Norbury

    During a childhood holiday in Scotland we camped at Brora, and one evening we were enjoying a stroll on the beach when a couple of squawking terns appeared out of nowhere and flew round and round just above our heads. It was my mum who bore the brunt of their attention – although she didn’t have ginger hair! She told my sister and me that the birds were terns. I’d never heard of them before then.


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