Brookmill Park is a small nature reserve in Lewisham. It’s part of the Waterlink Way, which runs from the Thames to Sydenham. The Friends of Brookmill Park have created a fantastic guided walk to make a trip easy and enjoyable. In the park is a river, with many birds. There is also a lake filled with ducks and the occasional grey heron. The lake was once part of an old reservoir that was saved from removal by the local residents’ association. There is a children’s play area, an ornamental garden, and a cycle route.
Bird species are abundant in the park including redwing, ring necked parakeets, and goldcrest. However, the big draw is the chance to see one of the resident kingfishers diving into the river in a flash of blue. And if that’s not enough, a short 10-minute walk into Deptford provides some amazing opportunities to see peregrine falcons nesting in the heart of the city!
Average rating: 3.7 (good)
Average cost: free!
Best time to visit: you can visit any time of the year but the park is at its greenest in Spring and early Summer. This is also a good time to look out for nesting peregrines.
How to get there: the park actually runs alongside the Docklands Light Railway, get off at Deptford Bridge or Elverston Road.
Typical activities: bird watching, cycling, picnicking, walking
Number of reports: 6
WILDLIFE IN BROOKMILL PARK
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
Kingfisher – 33% OF Wildside users (2/6) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
The park is an excellent place to spot kingfishers. These beautiful birds can be seen flying close to the river in a flash of blue. Or if your eyes are sharp you might see them sitting in the branches at the other side of the river – look out for their russet brown breasts. It really does feel exciting to see them. The best times to go are early morning or dusk when the park is quieter. We saw one opposite the bench near the central entrance to the park. While this blog post suggests the concrete tunnel near the station is a good spot. Wherever you are in the park, it’s always worth listening out for the sharp ‘chee’ noise they make two or three times before flight.
Peregrine falcon – 33% OF Wildside users (2/6) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a peregrine flying overhead – most likely being mobbed by crows. However, the best chance of seeing one is to head 10 minutes up the road to St Paul’s church in the centre of Deptford. Peregrines have nested here each spring for several years – and the chances of seeing one of these incredible birds up close are reasonably high. Local residents report that 09:30 is a good time to visit as this is often when the male brings food back to the female – look out for blood and feathers! Residents also report a drop in pigeon numbers and an increase in small birds when the peregrines are in town. There are some fun facts about London’s peregrine population here.
goldcrest – 17% OF Wildside users (1/6) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
The goldcrest is the UK’s smallest bird, being only 6 cm in length and weighing just 6 grams! Being so small, they can be very hard to spot, and always seem to be on the move. Their high-pitched ‘tsee’ call is useful for locating them in the trees. If you can spot one, the main identifying feature is the yellow crown on the top of the head. Goldcrest are widespread across the whole of the UK, but woodlands or parks with large mature trees appear to be the best places to see them. Brookmill Park is a great spot to look for these tiny birds given the ideal habitat it provides.
Redwing – 17% OF Wildside users (1/6) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Redwings are winter migrants to the UK, although there are a handful of pairs that nest here. They arrive from September onwards, leaving again in March and April. Redwings look similar to song thrushes but have a creamy stripe above their eyes and red-orange patches on their wings (hence the name!). You can usually see them feeding in fields and hedgerows in open countryside, and they can sometimes be found with flocks of fieldfares. They are occasional winter visitors to the park – look out for them in the hedgerows and trees that line the river.
Ring necked parakeet – 67% OF Wildside users (4/6) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
One bird that you’re likely to hear before you see is the ring necked parakeet. These are noisy, raucous, squawking creatures. And they aren’t shy! Chances are you’ll see or hear these colourful characters as soon as you set foot in the park. You can spot them year-round although it can be harder in spring and summer when the leaves are out on the trees. They are called ‘ring necks’ because the adults have a dark circle around the backs of their necks. They are perfectly at home in the park as there are lots of old trees with holes to nest in. There are various stories about how parakeets ended up in England, but they seem to quite like it here, even though their native range is tropical!
Photo credit: WildSide team member Chris White