Self-Guided Wild Fowl Walk

Book Tickets Online


Self-Guided Circular Wild Fowl Walk

This six mile (9.65km) walk around the river, canal and lakes of the Lee Valley, starts and finishes in Waltham Abbey and was created in January 2021 as part of a Festival of Culture. It follows a trail through the wetlands of the park to discover winter waterfowl, although it is also an ideal route to discover the park’s abundance of wildlife at any time of the year.

Download the guide to waterfowl with map and instructions and start your journey from outside the museum or pick up the trail where it starts in the park. As well as the waterfowl described in the guide, other members of the bird family you may encounter are listed below. Look out for Grey Squirrels and Red Foxes as well.

This walk has been created with the assistance of the Council's Life Walks and Countrycare departments. This website features more Countrycare walks around the district and information on the 9 local nature reserves, all open to the public. Find out more in the 'Explore' section of this website or go to the listing page HERE.

Find out more about the Lee Valley Park HERE.

Description of the walk

To give you an idea of what you might see on this trail in winter, here is a description of what Countrycare Assistant Damien Weller experienced when he followed the route one Friday in January:

I started my walk, around mid-day and kept a species list of birds as I went. Although some of these species were found in more than one place, for ease I will only mention my first sighting of each. I found that binoculars were perfectly adequate for the distances on this walk, although I took a telescope, I did not really need to use it.

The weather was good, with mainly blue skies and although a little chilly, very pleasant. As soon as leaving the Museum, along the high street, I had Ferrell Pigeons flying from rooftop to rooftop overhead. These birds are originally descended from Rock Doves, domesticated as a source of eggs and meat. Not much further on, a pair of Wood Pigeons were sitting on a chimney pot. These birds used to be more of a countryside resident, but have very successfully moved into towns. Before reaching the Abbey, a single starling flew overhead, as did Blacked Headed Gulls. The Abbey itself produced a pair of Jackdaws, initially given away by their calls.

After navigating over the road crossings, I started my walk along the Lee Navigation. The water level was high and the water muddy brown, swelled by the recent rains, on top of already saturated ground. In the woodland to the left of the path, I heard the chiming calls of Goldfinches, which led me to sighting them and not long after the “si si” of Blue Tits and wistful song of a Robin and these were the next species to be added to the list. The river was running fast, so I was surprised, after hearing a call that always reminds me of a fast-moving squeaky wheel, to see on the other side of the Lee Navigation, a Little Grebe. Before turning off the main path towards Marsh Bridge, I had my first sighting of Mallard.

Now on my way towards Bowyers Water, Great Tits were flitting about in the trees around me with their two-tone call, often described as “teacher teacher”. Magpies were present in the Cow fields to the right of the path. Once at the lake, Moorhen were on the path and in the edge of the water along the southern edge. House Sparrows were heard and seen in the southwest corner and a Collard Dove flew onto the path. On the lake itself I spotted Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Lesser Blacked Backed Gull and Great Crested Grebe (with a pair displaying to each other). Up towards the northwest corner of the lake, I spooked a Red Fox, which ran across the rail tracks toward some conifers, where I first heard and then saw a Coal Tit. In the trees at the northern edge of the lake, was a small flock of Long Tailed Tits, which followed along beside me for a while, but left me behind, when I stopped to look at a Red Kite flying over the field to the north. Heading to towards the Small River Lee, a Grey Wagtail called, whilst flying overhead.

The Lee Navigation after this point produced a Cormorant and a hybrid Canada/Domestic Goose, landing on the water with its fully Canada Goose friend. Species boundaries in waterfowl are a little different, as closely related species can often interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Crossing the over the Lee Navigation at the northern end of this walk, two Grey Squirrels stood one on either wall of the bridge, but left once I approached. Before reaching Seventy Acre Lake, I heard the wheeling call of a Goldcrest, a brief sighting of that and a Wren, as I headed onwards.

Arriving at Seventy Acre Lake, not much was showing, apart from a Shoveler and Gadwall. I headed from here south towards Hall Marsh Scrape and on the way heard a pair of Buzzards mew, whilst soaring overhead and a Song Thrush popped up to the top of a tree.

Hall Marsh Scrape was spectacular and in good light. Lapwing were there in decent numbers, occasionally flying up when spooked and calling “Peewit”, which is also an alternative name for them. Wigeon were whistling their call whilst grazing on grass. A few Grey Herons and Little Egrets were standing with their heads tucked in resting. Greylag Geese were present, as were Teal.

Approaching the end of the walk, just as I was coming up to the Lee Navigation once more, when, in a ditch to the right of the path, I was lucky enough to see a Kingfisher at close range and managed to follow it along for a little while, before it shot off along the ditch in front of me. That was the last of 45 species of bird seen on this walk, which lasted just over three hours, after the short walk back to the Museum.

List of Birds

Here is a list of the birds you might be lucky enough to see:

Ferrell Pigeon                        Shoveler Duck                        Wood Pigeon                         Gadwall Duck

Starling                                   Buzzard                                  Black Headed Gull                 Redwing

Carrion Crow                          Song Thrush                          Jackdaw                                  Lapwing

Goldfinch                                Greylag Goose                       Robin                                      Grey Heron

Moorhen                                 Little Egret                              Great Crested Grebe              Teal

Mute Swan                             Widgeon                                 Canada Goose                        Kingfisher

Collard Dove                           Long Tailed Tit                        Pochard                                  Red Kite

House Sparrow                       Grey Wagtail                          Tufted Duck                             Coal Tit

Lesser Black Backed Gull       Magpie                                   Wren                                        Goldcrest

Coot                                         Blue Tit                                  Cormorant                                Little Grebe

Great Tit                                   Mallard                                  Canada/Domestic Goose         Dunnock


Map & Directions

Lee Valley Wild Fowl Walk

Type:Nature Trail / Watching

Sun Street, WALTHAM ABBEY, Essex, EN9 1EL

Tel: 01992 716882

What's Nearby

  1. A 3 mile walk through flooded grassland, ponds, rivers, across areas designated as a site…

    0 miles away
  2. Telling the story of the Epping Forest district through a collection of over 50,000…

    0.02 miles away
  3. Caroline Jones shares some of her tranquil pictures of Epping Forest taken in a troubled…

    0.02 miles away
  1. The Epping Forest Creative Network have put together a fun quiz and creative challenge…

    0.02 miles away
  2. Tech Tips for hosting your own digital events: What we’ve learnt from the Festival of…

    0.02 miles away
  3. During his first stay in Epping between 1893 – 1895 Lucien produced some 23 oil paintings…

    0.02 miles away
  4. Felicitas Chamber Choir - 3 videos for you to enjoy

    0.02 miles away
  5. Waltham Abbey Church and its grounds are steeped in history and Royal connections.…

    0.16 miles away
  6. Two of the Royal Gunpowder Mills most popular exhibits - the Armoury and the Rocket Vault

    0.51 miles away
  7. The Royal Gunpowder Mills are opening in a different way in 2024 - find out more

    0.57 miles away
  8. From London 2012 venues to campsites, heritage sites, cycling, walking, white water…

    0.59 miles away
  9. You’ll find gallons of fun at Lee Valley White Water Centre, from white water rafting on…

    0.74 miles away
  10. Gunpowder Park in Waltham Abbey, a dynamic park regenerated from a former munitions…

    0.77 miles away
  11. Find your place at Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre

    0.89 miles away
  12. Find your place at Ongar Leisure Centre

    0.89 miles away
Previous Next

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Don't Miss