Pearson Slow Twitch




Distance Elevation Gain Ride Type


pearson twitching routeFor this ride you will need: a gravel bike or similar, a pair of binoculars, your eyes peeled and your ears open.

A route that takes in areas of interest which are regular haunts of certain birds including summer visitors. Cetti's Warbler, Black Cap, Redwing and Songthrush, Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Kingfisher, Red Kite, Kestrel, Little Owl. Swifts, Swallows and Housemartins, Skylark, Sandmartins. Chiff-chaff and all the tits - Blue, Coal, Great, Long-tailed.

bird watching cycling route london

  • The route starts at Penn Ponds in the centre of Richmond Park. Note there is no-cycling on the path to the ponds but it will be well worth the walk to see our fantastic visiting Sandmartins as they swoop and dive over the water in their pursuit of insects.
  • Heading out across the park towards Ham check the skies for recently arrived Red Kite and the odd Kestrel floating about. Skylarks sing and levitate above the long grass that conceals their protected nests.
  • Take the gravel path from Ham Gate to Ham Common where you will hear the loud and explosive call of the Cetti's Warbler, a spring visitor that has settled in droves this year.
  • Through the quiet paths to Teddington Lock, listen out for the squeaky-wheel call of the Great Tit and spot them chasing around branches with Blue Tits. The Robin will sing you a beautiful song that is varied yet distinctive by its tone and rarely flies off when you stop to spot its position.
  • Crossing the lock bridge, which incidentally was where the Monty Python's fish-slapping sketch was filmed, look out for the resident Great Crested Grebe as it dives and re-appears much further away than anticipated. On the weir, you may see the familiar silhouettes of Cormorants as they sun themselves with open wings, while the sinister Grey Heron lurks at the water's edge pointing its dagger-like bill.
  • In Bushy park, turn left onto the dirt track as it winds through huge deciduous trees which attract those two similar treetrunk hoppers, the Nuthatch and Tree-Creeper. The former you will probably hear before you see it, with its distinctive yet unmelodious call and fabulous eye-liner streaks. Meanwhile, the Creeper will give itself upon its vertical ascents of barky trunks searching for grubs and insects. The Nuthatch outdoes its cousin every time by heading down the tree using a modified claw at the back of its foot.
  • The privet hedges alongside the track are home to flocks of noisy sparrows and you may even hear the onomatopoeic Chiff-Chaff as they hide amongst the leaves.
  • The short high calls of a Little Owl have been heard at the exit gate to Bushy Park, as have the wondrous stanzas of a Songthrush although both at dusk.
  • It's worth taking a moment at Kingston Bridge to observe Swallows and Swifts feeding on the wing, sometimes at immeasurable altitude and admire the graceful Mute Swans and Canada Geese gliding across the smooth water.
  • Back into Richmond Park for more spotting of common sights like Blackbirds, Starlings and the blur of mousey brown when a Wren darts across the path in front of you.
  • On to wild Wimbledon Common which claims to attract up to a hundred species alone. Scour the brook for the elusive Reed Bunting and look up to the treetops for scores of Redwings, you'll spot the flash of colour beneath the wing in flight. A common sight is the Buzzard being mobbed by gangs of crows, they don't seem to bother the other raptors like Sparrowhawks and Hobbys. By contrast, a Peregrine Falcon had been spotted chasing parakeets here recently.
  • Off the common and past Putney Heath, head towards the little humpback bridge over Beverley Brook on Barnes Common. Look to the right downstream and pick out the Kingfisher who regularly perches there. You may spot it flying in a jet of blue over the babbling stream.
  • Back to the river again and past the Wetland Centre gates, tempted in for a visit that could maximise your bird spotting experience.
  • Over the river at Barnes Bridge, the final leg goes upstream to Chiswick Bridge past the allotments whose varied food sources and hanging bird feeders attracts dozens of visitors. Greenfinch and Chaffinch are common, with Goldfinch chirping their urgent song from treetops. The beautiful wrirring of the Blackcap will alert you to its presence, it's always a joy to clap eyes on it when you do.
  • Finally the ride ends by The Ship at Mortlake where you can reflect on the day's sightings over a well-deserved thirst quencher.

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