Cold, wet and miserable – the weather has been pretty horrid lately. No one would blame you for thinking Mile End Park is one of the last places you’d want to visit right now. But the great thing about having a local park is that you can often grab a short stroll when the rain stops, or the blue sky pops out. Yes that does happen.
Nature may look like it has shut up shop for a few months, but it is surprising how much there is to see. The highlight for me is a kingfisher that has taken to hanging around the Eco Pond. With its bright blue and metallic copper colours it looks fantastic.
Yours truly hadn’t seen a Kingfisher until a very wet canoeing trip on the River Wye. Luckily you can pop to the Eco Pond and with a bit of luck see one without the need for canoe or a full neoprene wetsuit.
Top tips to spot a Kingfisher (via the Canal & River Trust)
- They often hang around where the water is slow, shallow and full of prey.
- Look closely at low, overhanging branches which provide them with a good viewpoint whilst hunting prey.
- Listen as well as look. They dart about so quickly that sometimes it helps to “look with your ears”. If you think you saw a bright blue flash it probably was one!
- Keep the noise down and keep still as they are easily spooked.
The Woodland Trust has a great web page that tells you much more about the Kingfisher.
“What’s that bird?”
The free Merlin App from Cornell University is amazing at identifying birds by their song. I can’t recommend it enough. Press record on your phone and Merlin will soon make suggestions based on 800 million sightings submitted to eBird. I find it particularly useful when walking through the park’s wooded areas where you can often hear, but not see a bird.
It also has a Photo ID feature to help those of us who can’t tell our Canadian from our Egyptian geese.