Tower Hamlets Council’s biodiversity officer John Archer was astonished to find a Barred Warbler on a lunchtime visit to East India Dock Basin Nature Reserve on 26th September. The bird, a scarce visitor to Britain from Scandinavia, was only the ninth ever seen in London. Bizarrely, the last London record was also at East India Dock Basin, exactly five years ago, from 25th to 26th September 2006.
Barred Warbler is a very large warbler, far bigger than the Blackcaps and Whitethroats regularly seen at the Basin. It is a very skulking bird, usually remaining in thick cover. The one at East India Dock Basin was no exception, remaining hidden in the scrub in the north-west corner of the reserve for long periods, and only occasionally revealing itself to the growing band of birdwatchers from all over London who had assembled to see it. By the end of the day at least 20 birdwatchers had managed a sighting, and more will surely visit the site over the next few days if the bird stays.
East India Dock Basin (see the photo above by John Archer) is managed as a nature reserve by the Lee Valley Park. Its mix of open water, mud, reed beds, scrub and a small wood make it one of the best sites for birds in Tower Hamlets. For more information on the site and its wildlife, see our Where to see wildlife page.