Birds of Wanstead Park

The bird historically associated with Wanstead Park is the heron. It is suggested that herons were brought to the area by Sir John Heron in the 16th Century to mark his name. The bird figures in the borough's arms and is still quite a familiar motif in the area. They once nested on the trees of Lincoln Island, but steadily decreased in number when the Walthamstow Reservoirs became more attractive to the birds. However, non breeding birds are still a common sight, particularly on the Ornamental Waters.

The birds that have been sighted in and from Wanstead Park comprise almost all of the species that have been recorded from all of southern Epping Forest! A full list with details of past and present status is available here.

In the list below, those species shown in bold are thought to have bred in Wanstead Park, those in italics are escapes, infrequent visitors, or uncommon now.

Common Name
Mute Swan Breeds on all lakes (photo)
Black Swan One arrived on Heronry Pond on Nov 5th 2006, then on to Ornamental Waters. (photo)
Greylag Goose Occasional - perhaps strays from Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats
Canada Goose Common (photo)
Wigeon Uncommon (photo)
Gadwall A common winter visitor (photo)
Teal An occasional visitor, increasing in recent years
Mallard Breeds on all lakes - though much less common now. (photo)
Garganey One male on Heronry Pond on 3 April 2002 (photo)
Shoveler Common winter visitor (photo)
Red-crested Pochard Has occurred, probably as an escape, in Wanstead Park
Pochard Fairly common (photo)
Tufted Duck Common, rarely may breed on any of the lakes (photo)
Mandarin Duck Rare; a pair on OW on 15/04/12 (photo)
Goldeneye Rare; the only record is of a female on Heronry Pond on 14/15th November 2009
Smew Very uncommon; has occured when lakes are part-frozen
Goosander A pair on Perch Pond on 30 December 2008
Ruddy Duck Became increasingly common and was seen on Shoulder of Mutton and Heronry Ponds (photo). Not seen since 2006 when birds were culled throughout Britain
Little Grebe Breeds on Shoulder of Mutton, Perch and Heronry ponds and the Ornamental Waters (photo)
Great Crested Grebe Breeds on Shoulder of Mutton, Perch and Heronry ponds and the Ornamental Waters (photo)
Black-necked Grebe One on Shoulder of Mutton Pond at same time as Gannet
Gannet Once on Shoulder of Mutton Pond after severe weather
Cormorant Common (photo)
Little Egret Has been seen by River Roding; two on Ornamental Waters on 29 Jan 2002; one in gap between Lincoln/Rook Island, Wanstead Park, for a few days in early September 2008; up to 7 in 2009
Grey Heron Common (photo)
Sparrowhawk Common
Buzzard Occasionally seen passing overhead
Kestrel Common
Hobby Has bred
Water Rail Infrequently in the Dell and by the west end of the Perch Pond. In Perch Pond on 1st January 2006 and again on 10 February 2006. (photo); 3 January 2007 on Perch Pond; from 16 Nov to at least 24 Dec 2008 on Perch Pond. One present in Dell during winter of 2009/10, still being seen mid-March
Moorhen Breeds on all lakes (photo)
Coot Breeds on all lakes (photo)
Lapwing Occasionally seen passing overhead
Woodcock Has been seen over Warren Wood and Lincoln Island - but not for years
Common Sandpiper Occasional passage birds - particularly by Heronry Pond; flock of 6 on 20 July 2007
Black-headed Gull Common (photo)
Common Gull Common
Lesser Black-backed Gull Uncommon (photo)
Common Tern Two or three use the Ornamental Waters or Perch Pond for feeding.
Feral Pigeon Usually only at edge of Park near Northumberland Avenue (photo)
Stock Dove Common
Wood Pigeon Common (photo)
Collared Dove Common, but in small numbers
Cuckoo Usually heard for a few days each Spring, but decreasingly so.
Little Owl First seen in the Park in the winter of 2009/10
Tawny Owl Less often heard in recent years
Swift Common
Kingfisher Has bred successfully in one site for some years. A second nest site was located in 2002. Two birds, possibly three, seen on Heronry Pond 1st Jan 2006. (photo)
Green Woodpecker Common
Great Spotted Woodpecker Common, heard drumming from Christmas onwards in 2005.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Uncommon. One reported in February 2006, and a few more reports in early 2010
Skylark One or two over the Plain
Sand Martin Seen on passage, usually over Shoulder of Mutton or Heronry Ponds
Swallow Small numbers
House Martin Much less common than in the past when many nested locally
Meadow Pipit Uncommon
Yellow Wagtail Uncommon
Grey Wagtail Fairly common
Pied Wagtail Common (photo)
Wren Common
Dunnock Common
Robin Common (photo)
Wheatear Occasional on passage on the Plain
Blackbird Common
Fieldfare Varies from winter to winter
Song Thrush Still present, but less common
Redwing Varies from winter to winter
Mistle Thrush Common
Sedge Warbler Rarely heard in Spring - one by Shoulder of Mutton on 2 June 2002
Reed Warbler Occasional. One singing persistently for some weeks by Shoulder of Mutton in 2010
Blackcap Common
Garden Warbler One reported most summers from River Wood near Roding
Lesser Whitethroat Uncommon
Whitethroat Small numbers
Chiffchaff Common
Willow Warbler Were common, however few were heard in 2002 and subsequent years. A few heard from early April 2006 seems promising.
Goldcrest Common
Firecrest Rare. One in Reservoir Wood on 15 November 2009
Spotted Flycatcher Uncommon
Long-tailed Tit Common (photo)
Blue Tit Common
Great Tit Common
Coal Tit Fairly common, though decreasing
Nuthatch Much less common recently.
Treecreeper Much less common recently; a bird seen in Reservoir Wood during November 2009
Jay Common
Magpie Common (photo)
Jackdaw Increasingly common, up to thirteen seen in the Aldersbrook area in 2001, approx 50 in 2006 (photo)
Carrion Crow Common (photo)
Starling Common (photo)
House Sparrow Sometimes seen near park perimeters, particularly by Northumberland Avenue
Tree Sparrow Used to breed in old sewage works site and was occasionaly seen in the Park - but no longer
Chaffinch Fairly common
Brambling Has been seen in gardens adjacent to the Park
Greenfinch Less common in recent years
Goldfinch Less common in recent years; however, more frequently seen in 2008
Siskin Some winters provide good sized flocks, particularly by Perch Pond and Dell; 50 or so seen frequently in Nov/Dec. 2008
Linnet Uncommon
Redpoll Uncommon
Bullfinch Less common in recent years
Yellowhammer Uncommon
Reed Bunting Uncommon