News and Events

This page is for news reports and 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.

NEWS, 10 MAY 2017

Only one key now needed for all hide locks

A new Chubb lock has now been fitted in the lower lock position on door of the Main Hide at Brent Reservoir. This takes the same key as the upper lock and the two Heron Hide locks. The old steel Legge keys are now redundant.

Anyone requiring the new key should contact Roy Beddard on 020 8447 1810.

Birders are encouraged to leave their redundant keys in the main hide on their next visit (along with any other old keys they may want to get rid of). The keys will be collected within a few weeks and, if possible, sold to a scrap metal merchant to raise a little money for the WHCG. If they cannot be sold they will be taken to a recycling centre.

NEWS, 29 APRIL 2017

Spring Bird Count nets 75 species

The dawn-to-dusk Spring Bird Count held on 29 April produced a total of 75 species — four more than in 2016 but six short of 2011’s record of 81 species.

The best bird was the first Cuckoo at Brent Reservoir for seven years. It was a male bird that spent most of the day in East Marsh, calling frequently and often perched within view of one or both hides.

Other sightings of note during the day included 10 Common Tern, 3 Lapwing, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Buzzard, 10 Swift, 2 Sand Martin, 1 Swallow, 2 Wheatear, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Cetti’s Warbler and a Willow Warbler.

NEWS, 23 APRIL 2017

Spring Bird Count

Saturday April 29th is this year’s date for the annual dawn-to-dusk Spring Bird Count organised by the the Welsh Harp Conservation Group.

The aim of the day is to find as many species of bird as possible. These will include year-round resident species plus lingering winter visitors, early summer visitors and assorted passage migrants. In 2016, we found a total of 71 species — a fairly typical number. The record is 81 species recorded in 2011.

All birders are welcome to take part in the day-long event.  The morning is usually the best time to visit — the earlier the better.

Bird count days can be a great learning experience for new birders. 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 main hide will be open for most of the day. 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 species that we would expect to see but have still not found, so that birders can go out and look for these birds in appropriate haunts.

NEWS, 22 APRIL 2017

New edition of Brent Reservoir facts and figures

A new third edition of Birds of Brent Reservoir: Facts & Figures is now available. It can be viewed at, or downloaded from, the Publications page of this website. The 30-page PDF document, prepared by Andrew Self, is correct up to March 31st 2017.

Among the updates is the addition of a new species for the reservoir, Ring-necked Duck, after a drake of this North American species was seen at the reservoir from March 11th to 20th, bringing the all-time total number of species up to 252. A photograph of the bird has been added to the front page of the report.

NEWS, 17 MARCH 2017

Welsh Harp Report 2016 now available

The Welsh Harp Conservation Group’s annual report for 2016 is now available. It can be viewed at, or downloaded from, the Publications page of this website.

The 38-page PDF document includes a chairman’s report by Roy Beddard, a month-by-month review of the year’s birding highlights and a systematic account of the 128 bird species encountered at Brent Reservoir during the year (illustrated photographs,  tables and bar charts.

Also included are lists of the year’s first and last dates for regular migrants, an account of the autumn visible migration observations and an article on other wildlife at the Welsh Harp in 2016.

NEWS, 3 DECEMBER 2016

Vandalism restricts access to Main Hide

The Welsh Harp Conservation Group regrets that, as a result of vandalism, key holders who only have the Main Hide key will no longer have access to the hide except when it is already in use.

Recent forced entry to the hide resulted in both its locks being smashed beyond repair. Since this type of lock is no longer available, the WHCG has fitted its only remaining spare lock in the lower key position, and replaced the upper lock with a Chubb lock identical to those at the smaller hide (Heron Hide). Access to the Main Hide therefore currently requires both types of key.

The group’s aim is fairly soon to switch completely to the Chubb locks, so that just one key will open both locks at both hides. Anyone who has only the old-fashioned Main Hide key will need to buy a Chubb key (cost £10), which will allow entry to both hides. Roy Beddard will acquire a stock of keys for those who need one.

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 (for which another page is available). 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 log book 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.

Forthcoming Events

The following information about forthcoming events is 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.

Events in 2017

Sat 29 Apr, all day —  Spring Bird Count Day
Wed 16 Aug, 8.30pm — Bat Walk
Sat 2 Sep, all day — Autumn Bird Count Day

Events in 2018

Mon 1 Jan, all day — Informal new year bird count day

Guided walks

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, starting at 10am and lasting 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 are given above and can also 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 Wednesday evening towards the end of August. Electronic bat detectors are used to identify the bat species encountered. Past walks have detected up to six 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 have still not been found, so that birders can go out and look for these 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.)

Working parties

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).

© Welsh Harp Conservation Group 2017
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