This page is principally for details of forthcoming events such as the guided walks, bird count days and working parties that occur throughout the year at the Welsh Harp. The page also explains how to view records of recent sightings and report your own observations.
20 DECEMBER 2019
At a meeting on 4 December 2019, the committee of the Welsh Harp Conservation Group chose the 2020 dates for three annual events, set out below. Please note that the dates are provisional, since events may occasionally have to be cancelled or rescheduled. Any changes will be highlighted here as early as possible. General information about guided walks, bird count days and working parties is set out elsewhere on this page.
Saturday 2 May 2020, all day — Spring Bird Count
Thursday 20 August 2020, 8.30pm — Bat Walk
Saturday 5 September 2020, all day — Autumn Bird Count
In addition, a number of Brent Birders try to get their year’s tally off to a good start by counting as many species as possible on New Years Day.
Records of recent sightings
To learn about interesting birds seen recently at Brent Reservoir, visit the Latest News page on the London Bird Club wiki, where Brent Birders record their sightings. The page covers the current calendar month, with links to previous monthly reports dating back to 2002.
All birders are welcome to add their own sightings, but note that the page is intended for reports of wide interest, not for lists of common species. If you are new to the site, please first visit the page that gives details of the standard format for entries.
Sightings suitable for the Latest News page include not just rarer species but also commoner birds seen in unexpected places, in unusual numbers or behaving in an abnormal manner; also worth reporting are birds with new broods of young (especially if particularly early or late in the season), migrant birds arriving early or lingering late, and birds with readable leg-rings.
If you visit the Main Hide, please also add an entry to the logbook kept there.
Reporting leg-ring sightings — When young birds are ringed in the nest or adults are trapped and ringed, they are fitted with a unique aluminium leg-ring that can provide information only if the bird is retrapped or is found injured or dead. But some ringing stations also fit coloured plastic leg-rings designed to allow identification without recapture. Larger birds may be fitted with a coloured plastic leg-ring bearing two or three letters and/or numbers. Anyone who sees a bird with such a ring should note the alphanumeric code (if possible), the colour of the ring, the colour of the lettering and which leg the ring is on. Even if the letters and/or numbers cannot be read, the other information may identify where the bird was ringed. Some smaller birds may be fitted with several coloured leg-rings to aid identification in the field. In such a case, you should note the sequence of colours (top to bottom) on each leg. As well as recording such sightings as above, please also report them on the European Colour-ring Birding website.
Throughout the year, visitors to Brent Reservoir can avail themselves of expert knowledge of the area and its wildlife by joining guided walks. This is a free service designed to enrich people’s appreciation of a wonderful local asset. There is no need to book in advance — just turn up on the day.
Bird walks — Bird walks take place monthly on Sunday mornings, generally on the second Sunday of the month. They start at 10am and last about two hours. All walks start from Cool Oak Lane bridge. Beginners and accompanied children are welcome.
The walks are normally led by Roy Beddard (WHCG) and John Colmans (London Wildlife Trust) and are run in conjunction with the RSPB North West London Group (leader, Bob Husband). Details of forthcoming walks can be found in the RSPB group’s current programme. Further information can be obtained from Roy Beddard on 020 8447 1810 or John Colmans on 020 8446 4029.
The walks are not exclusively devoted to birds. Attention is also paid to other creatures — particularly butterflies and dragonflies — and to unusual plants.
Anyone joining a walk should dress sensibly. Parts of the site can be bleak in winter, and warm clothes, a rainproof coat or jacket and waterproof boots are advisable. If the weather has been wet, some footpaths can be muddy at any time of year. Bring binoculars if you have them, but there should be plenty to see without them.
Bat walks — The WHCG, again in conjunction with the local branch of the RSPB, organises an annual public bat walk, usually on a midweek evening towards the end of August. Electronic bat detectors are used to identify the bat species encountered. Past walks have detected up to seven species, but the number of species and the total number of bats can vary widely depending on the weather conditions.
Bird count days
Twice a year, during the spring and autumn migration periods, the WCHG organises a dawn-to-dusk bird count, during which birders try to spot as many different species as possible. The total number of species recorded is usually around 70.
The spring bird count is normally on the last Saturday of April or the first Saturday of May; the autumn count is usually on the last Saturday in August or the first Saturday in September. The exact dates are given on this page and posted in the main hide.
On bird count days the main hide is normally open for most of the day, manned by regular Brent Birders. It acts as an information centre, where a running list of species is chalked up. Later in the day there will also be a smaller list of expected species that are still to be found, so that birders can go out and look for these specific birds in appropriate haunts.
If you are a new birder, a bird count day can be a great learning experience. The regular Brent Birders will point out interesting birds from the hide or take you with them on walks to other good birding spots around the reservoir. The morning is usually the best time to visit — the earlier the better.
(An informal bird count also takes place each year on 1 January, when birders who keep annual species lists try to get their new year tally off to a good start. Typically about 50 species are recorded.)
Outside the nesting season, the WHCG organises working parties to carry out various tasks that help preserve the quality of the environment at Brent Reservoir. These maintenance jobs including cutting reeds, removing invasive plant species, clearing overgrown paths and removing saplings from the gorse patch. (In the past, one annual task has been to tidy up the rafts, but the silting up of this part of the reservoir now make that job too difficult.)
Anyone prepared to become involved in these tasks is asked to send their email address and telephone number to Roy Beddard (roy.beddard [AT] btinternet.com) so that they can be notified about forthcoming working party dates.
In parallel with the WHCG working parties, several litter-clearing sessions are held each year, organised by Daniella Levene (“Daniella Litterpicker”). Daniella would also welcome more participants (email northwestlondoncleanup [AT] hotmail.com; tel 07763 150251).