James, watch out, it’s Goldeneye

Photo of Don PepperBy Don Pepper

A short walk from Brent Cross, Brent Reservoir, or the Welsh harp as it is commonly known, is the largest nature reserve close to N3. if walking from Brent Cross, from the front of John Lewis heading east there is a pedestrian crossing. Crossing this leads you to a little alleyway onto Layfield road. Follow Layfield Road to the end, a five minute walk, and you reach Hendon Broadway. Turn right and walk to the traffic lights, cross the road and that junction is Cool Oak Lane. Walk a short distance down Cool Oak Lane until you approach a very narrow hump backed bridge. Photo of Brent Reservoir

Brent Reservoir has several different environments from vast expanses of water, reed beds and mud (ideal for waders) to woodland, scrubland and open sports fields. This in turn lends itself to impressive numbers of different species of wildlife as well as many rarities, which make this place so exciting.

The nature reserve is in two parts, but the whole of Brent Park is worth exploring.

Vast numbers of waterfowl can be seen as well as many rarities, these have included (in the last couple of years) Lesser Scaup (an American cousin to Greater Scaup which you get in Britain) and various rare divers and grebes. Non-water birds are also found in vast numbers including rarities. These have included Honey Buzzard, Humes Yellow-browed warbler (a real birders twitch) and Bluethroat.

As you approach the reservoir from Hendon you will see a private car park on the left hand side, before this is a foot path. This will lead you to a couple of hides which are only accessible to key-holders, you can however get good views of the reservoir for wintering waterfowl and there are a it’s a good bushy area with trees for passerines (perching birds such as finches and tits).

Returning to the road, continue on over the little foot bridge and take the footpath to the left. This follows a small part of the reservoir to a public hide and a viewing platform. This area is good for birding all year, but is particularly good for breeding bird in the spring. Specialities are Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scerpaceus), Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) and the very graceful Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) as well as breeding ducks and gulls. Continue along the path to some playing fields where all five wintering thrushes can be found, as well as many gull species.

You can do a circular walk around to the other side of the reservoir from here, but it is far too complicated to explain in this article and so return back to the road.

Cross the road to a third footpath. Short way along is a viewing platform, from here you can see across to a nature reserve with breeding platforms, in winter, waders can often be seen on the platforms with the occasional rarity.

From here is a very large area for you to explore, towards the other end of the reservoir is a dam, look out for Goosander (Mergus merganser) a very large saw-billed duck, or Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) the bird which leant it’s name to a James Bond novel.

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Posted in Education, Nature. Comments Off on James, watch out, it’s Goldeneye
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