Bow Creek Ecology Park
Originally an Osier bed, the site was transformed into a more industrial landscape when it subsequently became an ironworks. It has now opened as an ecology park and is a hidden gem in London’s East End.
As you enter the site there are views over tidal mudflats fringing the river so take a moment to look for views of feeding Redshank. Flocks of these waders can be seen commuting along the river as the tide changes.
The path leads you through wildflower meadows. Kestrel hunt along the railway verges, whilst the wildflowers provide an abundant source of nectar for many butterflies including the Small Copper, Orange-tip and Green-veined White. In summer look out for dragonflies such as the impressive Emperor Dragonfly, which is on the wing from early June to late August.
Sand Martin and Kingfisher nesting banks have been installed close to the site and it’s a good place to see them. It’s also an excellent spot for passage passerines including the Black Redstart.
The site has surfaced paths and viewing platforms over the ponds. There’s no parking on site but it’s easily accessed via public transport. Canning Town is the closest train station, a five minute walk away and access from Canning Town station to Bow Creek Ecology Park is now open during the park opening times. Please see our plan a visit page for opening times.
A visit to Bow Creek Ecology Park can easily be combined with a trip to nearby East India Dock Basin.
East India Dock Basin
East India Dock Basin, whilst relatively small, is a super spot for some lunchtime birding. The basin contains tidal brackish water and there are mudflats with a small band of saltmarsh vegetation to the north.
A colony of Common Tern returns here to breed every summer on the artificial rafts. Look out for Black Redstart which are regularly seen around the site, especially during spring and autumn.
In winter the basin supports good numbers of Shelduck and flocks of over 150 Teal. Close views can be obtained as they feed over the mud. Also look out for waders such as Redshank feeding on insects along the strandline.
Look over the O2 Arena on the opposite bank of the Thames for the chance to see Peregrine Falcon. A variety of gulls including Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull frequently use the site but it’s worth scanning amongst them for the more unusual species.
The north of the basin is saltmarsh and home to some interesting plants dominated, unusually, by Buttonweed with Sea Milkwort and Sea Arrowgrass.
The flower-rich grassland includes two of the more unusual exotics at the site, Warty Cabbage and Salsify, in addition to native meadow flowers such as Ladies Bedstraw. The scrub bordering the site can be a good spot to pick up some unusual vagrant species, with birds such as Barred Warbler recently recorded.
There are surfaced paths around the site and viewing screens on the western side of the basin. There’s no parking on site but it can be reached via East India Dock or Canning Town (Docklands Light Railway, Underground and Bus terminal) stations. A visit to East India Dock Basin can easily be combined with a trip to nearby Bow Creek Ecology Park.