The colder weather doesn’t stop wildlife from flitting from tree to tree, place to place and collecting winter bounty – don’t let it stop you from seeing all this action! But first our tips for enjoying the outdoors in the winter:
Wrap up warm – remember you can always take a layer off if you get too warm.
Take a hot drink in a reusable flask.
Binoculars make it easier to see the distinctive patterns of wildlife that might be that little bit out of sight.
ID books or sheets are great for making sure you know what you’re looking out for – you can download our kid friendly one here.
Here are some of the sights you might see along the waterways and lakes of the Lee Valley. 🏞️
Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
📍 Frequently spotted at the Wildlife Discovery Centre, Fishers Green
This is the park’s winter visitor everyone wants to see. Bittern start to arrive in the park from early autumn to feed and roost amongst the reedbeds. These birds are very secretive with their brown feathers and silent footwork so they can be hard to spot lurking amongst the reeds.
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
📍 Regularly spotted on Ashley Lake in River Lee Country Park and along the River Lee Navigation and Flood Relief Channels
This stunning looking duck is usually resident in south-west England, Scotland and Wales, but moves to lakes and reservoirs for winter fishing. The males can be distinguished by their reflective green head and contrasting red beak, cream body with grey and black feathers lining their back. The females have a brown head with longer feathers towards the back – giving them a mullet looking hair style along with a grey body.
European Otter (Lutra lutra)
📍 Signs such as droppings or 'spraints' along with footprints have been spotted throughout the Lee Valley
Although very rare to see active, our Biodiversity Team have seen signs of this mammal up and down the park. The best time to try and see this elusive nocturnal creature at is dusk and dawn, where you may catch them before they head back to their holt for a sleep.
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
📍 Spotted up and down the waterways of the park including at the WaterWorks nature reserve and Rye Meads
This striking cobalt and orange bird is resident in the park, but the clearer banks during the winter months make it easier to spot amongst the branches. Keep an eye out for perches Kingfishers could land on, listen out for their shrill call and look close to the surface of the water to spot them as they fly by.
Not walking by water? Here are some small birds you might see amongst the branches. 🌳
Redwings (Turdus iliacus) and Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
📍 Sighted in Fishers Green
These birds are known as the winter thrushes and can often be spotted together in large flocks collecting berries from trees and hedgerows. The smallest of our thrushes, Redwing can be identified by the cream stripe above the eye and orange flanks while the larger Fieldfare has a distinctive blue-grey head and yellow beak.
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
📍Spotted at Holyfield Hall Farm
These colourful characters can be seen in the park throughout the year with the males bright orange bodies and grey heads and the females subtle yellow and buff hues. In winter they may be found in mixed flocks with other finches such as Goldfinch and Brambling and can often be heard amongst the chorus of bird song due to their loud call.
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
📍Sighted up and down the park
These tiny birds are known for their aerial acrobatics from branch to branch. Their plumage is bright and bold so they’re easy to spot amongst the bare branches. You will see them in groups looking for food in the winter months.
Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
📍 Winter visitor to the park and frequently spotted in River Lee Country Park
Though there are resident birds in the UK, the Lee Valley see the winter flock from Europe visit to feats of the seeds on often – even visiting bird feeders. You will often see them in groups over the winter months and will be able to spot them with their greeny-yellow tones and forked tail.
This is a great starting point for wildlife watching in the winter months and we hope you enjoy the open spaces during this time – remember to wrap up warm and share your wildlife sightings with us here.