The Universal Pleasures of Birding Pt. 2

December 23, 2019

A review by Sanford Sorkin

Birdwatching London: All the Best Places to See Birds in the Capital, by David Darrell-Lambert

Safe Haven Books, 2018

192 pages, softcover

Birds and birding locations are all around us wherever we are. For tourists and residents of London, David Darrell-Lambert’s Birdwatching London identifies productive localities all around the city. This guide to the “best places” offers incredibly helpful descriptions and directions to the parks, ponds, and other preserved areas that dot London and attract a diverse selection of birds. Darrell-Lambert mentions most of the common species found at these spots, but visitors should remember that exciting rarities also appear, especially during migration.

As a frequent visitor to London, I enjoyed comparing my excursions to those recommended in the book; Darrell-Lambert’s recommendations are definitely on target for anyone who wants to see as many birds in as many different habitats as possible. And even better for the tourist who wisely refuses to drive in London, most of the locations he lists are easily accessible by public transportation. For visitors specifically in search of certain species, the book offers a very useful index to birds.

Finding and appreciating birds in cities is fun. But there is one other major benefit to birding an urban area, namely, the people you meet. If you are wearing a pair of binoculars on public transportation, you will probably meet other birders on the way. If you are also carrying a camera with a telephoto lens, you will meet birders and photographers. They’ll ask where you are from and what you’ve seen. The trip goes faster, and you get helpful tips from the locals, who are sure to regale with their own tales of urban birding and what they saw—yesterday. Enjoying nature is a universal pleasure, and the best motivation around for travel.


Sanford Sorkin has been a birder and photographer for more than a decade. Since retiring from Temple University in Philadelphia, he has had time for trips to Central America, the Lesser Antilles, and, above all, England, as well as many parts of the United States. Sorkin is a frequent lecturer at bird clubs and schools in New Jersey.