Wildlife is everywhere, and you’ll be able to see birds, insects and wild flowers in your local park, around your housing estate or in your garden. The Tower Hamlets biodiversity action plan aims to improve these places, so you’ll be able to see even more wildlife all over the borough. However, there are some special places in our borough where you can see a far greater range of wild plants and animals and get a real experience of nature, even in our urban landscape. Whether you want to hear a chorus of birdsong, watch flocks of ducks bobbing about on the water, or see colourful wild flowers and butterflies, here is a selection of some of the very best places in Tower Hamlets to see wildlife.
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
By far the largest woodland in the borough, this is a great place to see and hear birds at any time of year. In spring and summer there are colourful wild flowers in the woods and glades, and butterflies and other insects can be seen on sunny days. With its many interesting monuments, a visit is a good way to enjoy both natural and cultural history. The Friends group organises walks and talks, as well as training and volunteer work days. For more information see the Friends website.
The largest park in the borough, with a good range of habitats including some fine old trees and two lakes. The trees and open parkland support a good range of birds, including mistle thrush and green woodpecker. An excellent variety of ducks, geese and other water birds can be seen on the lakes, where they’re very approachable because they are used to people. For more information, see the Council’s website.
Mudchute Park & Farm
This working farm, with its extensive paddocks, provides a real sense of countryside in the heart of the Isle of Dogs. In addition to the farm animals, the range of habitats at Mudchute supports a wealth of birds, insects, amphibians and wild flowers. There are frequent events and opportunities for volunteering. See the Mudchute website for more information.
East India Dock Basin Nature Reserve
Situated beside the Thames, close to the mouth of the River Lea, this is one of the best birdwatching sites in Tower Hamlets. In winter the basin is home to hundreds of ducks, mostly teal. In summer, common terns nest on the rafts, and reed warblers sing from the reed beds. Spring and autumn can produce all sorts of migrant birds, including an occasional rarity that attracts birdwatchers from all over London. Peregrine falcons can often be seen flying over to perch on the Dome, across the river, and the basin and its surrounds are one of the best places in London to see the rare black redstart. For more information, see the Lee Valley Park website or the London Bird Club wiki. Local birdwatchers also have a blog about birdwatching at the basin, called Birding East India Dock Basin.
Mile End Park
Innovatively landscaped with a mix of woodland, copses, meadows and ponds, Mile End Park is a superb example of how to create wildlife habitats in an urban area. It is home to a fantastic range of birds and insects, including the very rare streaked bombadier beetle, which is known from only four sites in England. You can read much more about the park’s wildlife here. For more information about what you can see and what’s on, see the Council’s website.