Bird Watching Sites

From Croydon Birders


Bird Watching Sites in Croydon.

Please note that this page is still currently under development and more information will be posted in due course. In the mean time, if you wish to post details about a site that you feel may be of interest to others, please put them on this page, although they may be edited in due course when further development takes place.

There are several sites in Croydon that can be rewarding for the birdwatcher. Others may not hold any birds of high interest, but they are still indicators of Croydon’s avian heritage.


The sites listed here cover a wide range of habitats. The list is far from exhaustive and there are many other sites in Croydon where birds can be found. Participants in our surveys have recorded the birds at sites such as Stambourne Woodland Walk, Brickfields Meadow and Heavers Meadow in the north of the borough. These, along with South Norwood Country Park and South Norwood Lake, are oases in the urban surroundings.

Further south, there are many wooded areas including places such as Littleheath Wood, Purley Beeches and Sanderstead Plantation. Places such as Queens Road Cemetery and Park Hill Park can also be very good for birds. In urbanised settings, even small green spaces can be productive at times. One area not mentioned so far is New Addington. This is not because there are no suitable areas, there have been some very interesting sightings from there, it is just that the information is patchy. Likewise, we have few records from the London Wildlife Trust reserve of Hutchinsons Bank.

Go out for yourself and see what is around. Not just at the sites given here. You may find somewhere of your own to watch the birds. After all, there are many parks, woods, golf courses and other open spaces in Croydon, including the town centre.

Information about the species recorded at each site has mainly been taken from our surveys, supplemented with a few additional records. As already mentioned, some sites receive better coverage than others and it is apparent that there are some gaps in our information due to under-recording. Anyone who has information that can add to our knowledge is welcome to post records on this website and/or to submit records or notes to the RSPB Croydon Local Group, either by post or by e-mail to environment(at)

Addington Hills

The site was bought by Croydon Corporation in various parcels between 1874 and 1919. Since then it has been a popular open space.

Location: TQ3564 Bounded by Shirley Hills Road, Oaks Road and Coombe Lane. The main access for cars is off Shirley Hills Road (TQ355642), but the site is readily accessible to pedestrians off all three roads.

Facilities: WC and viewpoint

Public transport: Tramlink - Coombe Lane stop Bus - 130 and 466 along Shirley Hills Road and Coombe Lane

Habitat: The site mainly comprises woodland with an area of heathland on the summit.

Species: Regular woodland species, including Stock Doves. Spotted Flycatchers may be found on migration and there is a recent record of a breeding attempt (which is now a very scarce event in Croydon). Redpolls and occasional Firecrests can be found in winter. This was the last known site in Croydon for breeding Wood Warblers, but these seem to have disappeared in the late 1990s.

Coulsdon Area

Farthing Downs, New Hill, Happy Valley/Devilsden Wood and Coulsdon Common/Rydons Wood all merge together to form one large site. Parts are owned and managed by the Corporation of London and others by Croydon Council. Farthing Downs, for example, was bought by the Corporation of the City of London around 1880 to save it from destruction as part of the encroachment of London’s southern suburbs into what was once open downland. Happy Valley was purchased in 1937 under the Green Belt Scheme as a link n Farthing Downs and Coulsdon Common. Much of the area of Farthing Downs and Happy Valley is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Location: TQ3157 These sites form a large swathe running roughly from Downs Road (near the London-Brighton railway line) in the west to Hayes Lane in the east. Car parking at Farthing Downs (TQ300573), near The Fox PH (TQ318568) and along Hayes Lane (TQ327574). Access is also possible from many other roads in the area. Some of the pedestrian access to Farthing Downs is up very steep slopes.

Public transport: Depending on the area to be visited. Train - Coulsdon South Bus - 404 and 466 along Coulsdon Road and 60 along Marlpit Lane

Habitat: Mainly woods and chalk downland/grassland with small ponds in the woods at Coulsdon Common and Devilsden Wood.

Species: Recent information about birds found in the area is generally lacking, but improving. One recent highlight, however, was the passage of an estimated 10,000 hirundines (Swallows and House Martins with a few Sand Martins) in an hour on September 26th 1999 over Farthing Downs. There has been a record of a Spoonbill flying over. Marsh Tit has been found recently at Coulsdon Common where there has been a record of Mandarin on the pond. In the not too distant past Hawfinch has also been found there. Skylarks still breed on the downs, but numbers are potentially depressed by human activity. Various warblers, including Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, can be found in suitable habitat. This is also one of the few areas in Croydon where Yellowhammers and Linnets are present all year round. With increasing records in the region, Farthing Downs and Happy Valley should produce sightings of Buzzards and potentially Red Kite.

Croham Hurst

The site was owned by the Whitgift Foundation until the end of the 19th century. The original intention in 1898 was to sell off the lower land for housing with the summit being offered to Croydon Corporation. Following an outcry, the whole area was sold to the corporation in 1901 so that ‘Croham Hurst … be preserved to the use of the people forever …’.be used as open space. It is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Location: TQ3463 Lies alongside Upper Selsdon Road, with entrances there and from Croham Manor Road and Croham Valley Road (by Croham Hurst GC).

Public transport: Bus - 412 along Upper Selsdon Road and 64, 409 and T33 along Croham Valley Road

Habitat: Woodland, some on a steep slope, with adjacent golf course. A small area on the plateau is heathland.

Species: There is a mixture of regular woodland species with the occasional bonus of Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher. This is also the location of Croydon’s only records of Arctic Skua, Sabine’s Gull (both after the 1987 hurricane), Melodious Warbler and Alpine Swift.

Kenley Common & Aerodrome

Kenley Common is owned and managed by the Corporation of London as an open space. The aerodrome, immediately adjacent to the common, is still used by gliders. There is permissive access to the area outside the perimeter track and care must be taken when flying is underway.

Location: TQ3359 The main access is from Hayes Lane, but can also be gained from Kenley Lane.

Public transport: Train - Whyteleafe Bus - 407 along Godstone Road

Habitat: Apart from the tarmac area of the aerodrome runway, there is a mixture of grassland and woods. Some of the site is on steep slopes.

Species  ; This is one of the few remaining sites in Croydon for breeding Skylarks. Some of these can be found on the aerodrome.

Kings Wood

Kings Wood as it is known today has also been called Sanderstead Wood - at some time in the past the names have been transcribed on a map leading to the confusion over the name. (The ‘King’ in Kings Wood refers to an owner of the wood and has no connection with royalty). In 1844 it was oak coppice, later converted into a game covert for hunting. The pattern of intersecting rides still survives to provide a series of footpaths for public access. It was purchased in 1937 under the Green Belt Act and is managed by the council as an open space. Before the Second World War it was valuable woodland, but most of the best trees were removed by the army during the war.

Location: TQ3560 The main access is from Orchard Road, off Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead. Other entrances are off Kingswood Lane, Harewood Gardens, Leighton Gardens/Hazlewood Grove and Kingswood Way.

Public transport: Bus - 403 along Limpsfield Road

Habitat: Old woodland, some of which is now being coppiced again, with a small pond in the wood itself.

Species: This has been an under-recorded site, but many of the usual woodland birds are present. Marsh Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are reported every year and presumably breed. Recent highlights have included Golden Oriole and Willow Tit.

Lloyd Park

Lloyd Park was originally part of the Coombe Estate. Before the newspaper magnate Frank Lloyd, who then owned the Coombe Estate, died in 1927 he had the idea of presenting some of the land to Croydon Corporation for use as playing fields. After his death, his daughter carried out her father’s wishes and the land was given to the Corporation and still bears his name. Some of the land was ploughed up in the Second World War as part of the war effort to grow crops.

Location: Lloyd Park lies alongside Coombe Road (where there is a small car park), with access points also from Lloyd Park Avenue, Deepdene Avenue and Mapledale Avenue.

Public transport: Tramlink - Lloyd Park stop

Habitat: Most of the site is intensively managed grassland, including playing fields and a children’s’ playground with some wooded areas and small groups of trees mainly on the higher ridge of land. There is also a series of springs, most of which simply form damper areas in the woodland. The largest spring is in an adjacent private garden where it forms a pond before becoming a very short stream which flows into the park.

Species: A mixture of the more common species may be found here, but the speciality is Ring-necked Parakeet. Woodcock has been recorded here in recent winters. Little Owl has been recorded near the tram stop. Redstarts, Wheatears and Spotted Flycatchers are occasionally recorded on passage and Redpolls are sometimes found in the winter.


The area usually referred to as ‘Riddlesdown’ is actually at least three different sites that merge into each other. Riddlesdown Common itself is owned and managed by the Corporation of London. Another area, of green belt land, is owned by Croydon while Tandridge own the land towards Warlingham where it becomes ‘The Dobbin’.

Location: TQ3360 Between Godstone Road and Limpsfield Road. The access from Godstone Road is up steep paths, but there are other entrances at Eskdale Gardens, Honister Heights and Tithepitshaw Lane, as well as at various places along Limpsfield Road and Wentworth Way. The main entrance is at the end of Riddlesdown Road (TQ325605), where there is a car park.

Public transport: Train - Nearest station is Riddlesdown Bus - 412 along Mitchley Avenue, 407 along Godstone Road and 403 along Limpsfield Road

Habitat: Downland, parts of which are fenced in and grazed. Woods and old chalk quarries (no public access to the latter).

Species: Most significantly, several pairs each of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Yellowhammer breed here, which makes this one of the few sites in Croydon where all of these species can be found together. Kestrels and Sparrowhawks are regular and are now being supplemented from time to time with visiting Peregrines. There have been sightings of Little Owl near Warlingham Court Farm. In winter there may be flocks of a whole range of species including Fieldfare, Redwing and various finches. In recent winters, both Corn Bunting and Reed Bunting have been found. Stonechats may also be found during the winter and Wheatears and Whinchats occasionally turn up on migration. This is probably the most reliable site in Croydon to find Jackdaws at any time of year.

Selsdon Wood

Selsdon Wood was originally part of the Selsdon Park Estate. In the early part of the 20th century a pheasantry helped to stock the woods, where there was an annual shoot. In 1929 it was bought by public subscription as a bird sanctuary and was officially opened in 1936. The site effectively became the property of the National Trust, although it was, and still is, maintained by Croydon Council as an open space and is managed by a joint committee.

Location: TQ3661 The main entrance is off Old Farleigh Road, Selsdon (TQ358615). Also accessible from the end of Courtwood Lane.

Public transport: Bus - 359 and T31 to Courtwood Lane, T33 along Old Farleigh Road to Sandpiper Road and 409 along Old Farleigh Road.

Habitat: Woodland with some hay meadows. There is a small pond in the central area. Some of the woodland is now being coppiced.

Species: This site has been under-recorded in recent years. It is, however, one of the main sites in Croydon for Marsh Tits, which are present along with four other tit species, although Willow Tits have long since vanished. Generally good for the regular woodland species with a healthy population of Tawny Owls.

South Norwood Country Park

Potentially Croydon’s premier bird watching site, South Norwood Country Park offers a wide range of habitats and the birds to go with them. Like many sites, regular watching brings the most rewards. Over 100 species are recorded each year. The site is run by Croydon Council, with wardens on site. The site was a sewage farm from the middle of the 19th century until 1966 when it fell into disuse. It was declared Metropolitan Open Land in 1982. The country park itself was opened in 1989 after the creation of the pond and wet meadow.

Location: The main entrance is off Albert Road, South Norwood. The site is also accessible on foot from Harrington Road, Westgate Road and Elmers End Road.

Public transport: Train - Elmers End Tramlink - Arena, Elmers End and Harrington Road stops Bus - 197 and 312 along Portland Road, 354 & 356 along Elmers End Road and 289 along Long Lane.

Facilities: Visitor centre (with toilets) - restricted opening hours.

Habitat: Very varied. Areas of grassland/rank vegetation, scrub, small areas of trees, lake, wetland.

Species: At least six species of warbler may breed here, including Reed Warbler (the only known site in the borough where this species regularly nests) and Sedge Warblers used to breed here (now primarily a passage migrant). Marsh Warblers have also been reported. The lake supports the common waterfowl found in parks but occasionally something more exotic, such as Shelduck, Pintail and Goosander, drops in. Shovelers are resident during the winter months. There is also a reasonable chance of seeing Kingfisher which bred here in the late 1990s (the first known breeding record for Croydon). Snipe (and probaly Jack Snipe) winter in the wet meadow and other waders are occasionally recorded around the lake. At least one Water Rail (sometimes more) spends the winter around the lake, in the wet meadow or in the stream near Harrington Road. All three woodpeckers may be found as can a variety of finches, tits and Reed Buntings. Among the scarcer species recorded here in recent years are Red Kite, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Dartford Warbler, Great Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Bearded Tit, Twite and Firecrest.

South Norwood Lake

South Norwood Lake was originally formed in the 1780s as a two-part reservoir for the Croydon Canal, which gave way to the present Crystal Palace/Norwood Junction railway line in the late 1830s. Before then part of the current site was owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest was part of Norwood Common. The canal closed in the 1830s and the lake then lay derelict for many years until a sports club was formed in 1881. The lake was used for fishing, swimming and skating (in winter). Some of the site was bought by Croydon Council in 1931, who then allowed public access to the lake and surrounds. The council then purchased the rest of the site in 1936, but it was not until 1969 that the whole of the grounds were opened to the public, since when it has been managed as a public park.

Location: The main entrance is at Woodvale Avenue, off Auckland Road/Lancaster Road, South Norwood. Other access from Auckland Road and Maberley Road (Upper Norwood).

Public transport: Train - Nearest stations are Norwood Junction and Crystal Palace. Bus - 75, 157 and 312 along South Norwood High Street, 196 along South Norwood Hill, 468 to Whitehorse Lane/South Norwood Hill and 410 along Auckland Road (the nearest route). The 197 stops at Norwood Junction.

Habitat: South Norwood Lake looks an unpromising site being essentially a concrete-sided reservoir, but there are two small wooded islands in the north-west corner, which attracts a range of breeding water birds. Playing fields, woods and scrub (old allotments) add to the variety.

Species: The Lake area's "life list" stands at an impressive 123 species, with a regular annual list of approx. 70 This is the main site in Croydon for Great Crested Grebe and the wooded areas hold a variety of species including Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Whitethroat. Although by no means as regular here as at the country park, Common Sandpipers are occasional visitors to the lake. The site came to national attention when London’s first Pied-billed Grebe stayed here for several weeks in early 1997. Other recent highlights have included Red-breasted Merganser, Little Egret, Honey Buzzard, Peregrine, Hobby and Firecrest.

Waddon Ponds

Today’s site of Waddon Ponds was originally part of the very old, large estate of Waddoncourt farm. Among the many visitors there was Lord Nelson who fished in the extensive lakes. By 1910 Waddon Ponds was part of two estates and the site was bought by Croydon Corporation in 1928 after the owners of the estates had died. [The rest of these estates were sold off to developers.] Today it is the only place in Croydon where the River Wandle can be seen, although it originally flowed from the Swan and Sugarloaf in Brighton Road, through the old Archbishop’s palace and Wandle Park.

Location: TQ3165 There are entrances off The Ridgeway, Waddon Court Road, Wandleside and Mill Lane.

Public transport: Train - Nearest station is Waddon Bus - 289 along Purley Way and 407 and 410 along Croydon Road

Habitat: Pond surrounded by grass and a few trees/shrubs.

Species: This is the main site in Croydon for Little Grebe and Mute Swan, both of which have bred here in recent years. The usual waterfowl are present, with a few Pochards in winter and this is the best location in Croydon for Coots with around 100 birds present at times. There are occasional sightings of Water Rail, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. These species may also be joined by the more exotic (but not wild) male Red-crested Pochard and Black Swans have attempted to breed here.

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