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Rare bird captivates twitchers at Hogsmill Nature Reserve

Friday 20th August 2021 10:37

Stock photo of black tailed godwit at Hogsmill Nature Reserve

A rare bird has got twitchers in a flap at a Thames Water nature conservation site in London.  

The black-tailed godwit, with its distinctive black and white striped wings and long legs and beak, has seen birdwatchers migrate in droves to Hogsmill Nature Reserve in Kingston-upon-Thames.  

Although 44,000 of the wading birds can be spotted wintering on estuaries around the coast, there are only around 60 breeding pairs in the UK. Its conservation status is therefore classified as ‘red’, meaning its species is globally threatened and is in severe decline in the UK. 

Hogsmill Nature Reserve is next to Hogsmill Sewage Works which treats the waste of almost 400,000 people. 

Earlier this year Thames Water announced it was exploring the first ever ‘poo power’ scheme in partnership with Kingston Council, in which millions of tonnes of carbon emissions could potentially be reduced by using the excess heat from the sewage treatment process to power over 2,000 homes in Kingston. 

Sewage treatment sites are great places for birds to thrive – they’re near rivers and streams where there’s an abundance of insects to eat, and the sites themselves have various ponds and lagoons, along with areas left to grow wild.   

Kristine Boudreau, Hogsmill Nature Reserve manager, said: “It is a wonderful indicator that we are managing the reserve to a high standard and creating biodiversity that benefits so many species, including rare birds like this. 

“The black-tailed godwit usually nests in north-east Scotland so the fact that it visited Hogsmill is very exciting. If it found the habitat once it can find it again, so hopefully it will return in the future. 

“In a week we would expect to host around a dozen visitors to the reserve, but over the space of only three days 50 people came to Hogsmill hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare bird.” 

A total of 160 different bird species have now been recorded at Hogsmill Nature Reserve, including nesting kingfishers, kestrels and herons and, in 2018, a Cetti’s warbler.  

The eight-acre wildlife refuge, which is open to the public through its free membership scheme, has two bird hides for visitors to spot the different species and has pathways accessible for wheelchairs and buggies. 

The reserve hosts numerous event and conservation days, educational visits for schools, youth groups and guided tours, and has a learning pond allowing children to pond dip and discover the wildlife living underwater. Learn more about the Hogsmill membership scheme

Earlier this month Thames Water launched the ‘Live Wild’ campaign to promote public access and encourage customers to visit wetlands, reservoirs and nature reserves such as Hogsmill. Learn more about the campaign and where you can 'Live Wild'.