I was born in Hackney and lived in Wick Road until the entire neighbourhood was razed as part of the slum clearance program. Then it was Leyton until I left London to go to university.
My father was a policeman and a keen angler. The police had fishing rights to a stretch of the River Lea not far from Waltham Abbey. The opposite bank of the river was a gunpowder factory. It was the ideal place surrounded by farms and tucked away between the River Lea and the Lea Canal. It could be flooded in the event of an emergency simply by opening some sluice gates. The fishery may have been a means of ensuring a police presence. This was where I was introduced to the gentle art of turning fishing line into insoluble tangles. It was also where I learnt to avoid stinging nettles.
The factory became redundant. Gravel extraction followed. It must have been quite a sad transformation for my father. But when the gravel was gone the scene was transformed again. It is now a series of lakes, waterbirds abound and if you are very lucky you might even see an otter.
I was there yesterday, it was a glorious spring day. A cuckoo gave away its position by incessant calling and I notched up a good list of birds.
A network of paths takes you around the lakes and to the Lea Canal …
Then it was time for a late lunch at the Welsh Harp in Waltham Abbey. The pub dates back to the fifteenth century. The food was outstandingly good.
In the evening I went through my photos and found that one of the gulls was ringed …
Bird banding in Britain is coordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology. It was a simple matter to find the BTO website and track down the research group that banded the bird. I submitted my observation and this morning I received a thank you note and some life history.
2LBD was banded at the place where I saw it as a chick in 2015. It was seen in Kent last year. This is the first time it’s been seen back at this colony this year.