Bird-watchers are on the look-out in annual species count

JOHN BIRKETT, of the RSPB Croydon group, spotted his first swallow of the summer at the weekend. He’s now preparing himself for a very long day on Thursday. Here, he explains why. Photos by JOHN FLYNN

A little grebe on South Norwood Lake

This month sees the RSPB Croydon local group’s “Big Croydon Bird Watch”.

This is our annual health check of Croydon’s avifauna, when teams of birdwatchers scour Croydon’s open spaces and gardens to record as many bird species as they can in the borough during the course of a single day.

One of the teams will be starting their search on Thursday at 4am, listening to the dawn chorus at King’s Wood and hopefully hearing Tawny Owls before they go to sleep for the day.

Then it will be over to Riddlesdown and Farthing Downs for skylarks, meadow pipits, linnets and yellowhammer, all of which are declining in Croydon.

There is also a chance of a migratory wheatear or whinchat turning up on passage.

The local twitchers might get to see a wheatear on Thursday

Hopefully, by now the raptors will have started hunting and buzzards, sparrowhawks, red kites or even peregrine may be on show. After that, New Addington offers the only real chance in Croydon to find a rook.

By now it will be early afternoon and time to head north to look for water birds – swans, geese, ducks and possibly grey wagtail and a wader or two – at Millers Pond, South Norwood Country Park, South Norwood Lake and Waddon Ponds.

The day will finish around 7pm in the town centre where the urban cliffs (aka tower blocks) could have some interesting residents.

With a bit of good fortune and a following wind the small but dedicated team of bird-watchers should record around 65 to 70 species during their day.

Croydon’s ponds and lakes are where grey wagtails can be found

Like all of the teams they are hoping to get people to sponsor them for their efforts with the money going to the RSPB to help their work in giving nature a home.

If anyone wants to know more (or to sponsor us) they can contact the RSPB Croydon local group by emailing

The Croydon RSPB group is also monitoring the local population of swifts this summer. Click here to read more and take part in that important conservation project.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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