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Nature lovers get bird’s eye view on Thames wildlife

PUBLISHED: 23:49 06 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:21 05 October 2010

Schoolchildren learn the wildlife secrets of Old Father Thames

Schoolchildren learn the wildlife secrets of Old Father Thames

OLD Father Thames is now the focus of a new campaign encouraging Londoners to look more closely at this world famous river that runs through the heart of their metropolis. It is largely ignored, So the River Thames Guide has set up a website with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to promote it to the next generation of Londoners

By Mike Brooke

OLD Father Thames is now the focus of a new campaign encouraging Londoners to look more closely at this world famous river that runs through the heart of their metropolis.

It is largely ignored by commuters at London Bridge on their way to work.

So the River Thames Guide has set up a website with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in London to promote the waterway.

The project, ThamesWatch, runs throughout June on:

www.thameswatch.org.

"Once people start to look, they'll be amazed at the variety of life on the banks and in the water," said Stephen Worsfold of the River Thames Guide.

"It's like a forgotten world, despite flowing right past some of our most picturesque and historic sites."

One of those sites, of course, is the Tower of London, while other famous landmarks link the shores either side such as London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

Its most famous river bend is between Limehouse Reach and Blackwall Reach that forms the iconic Isle of Dogs.

Many famous taverns nestle along the waterfront... the Prospect of Whitby and the Town of Ramsgate in Wapping where Hanging Judge Jeffries was caught in 1688, or The Gun famed as Admiral Nelson's favourite watering hole in Blackwall next to his beloved Lady Hamilton's riverside pad.

But there is also great wildlife that can be explored among the foreshore.

The RSPB's Tim Webb says: "The Thames is a wildlife magnet, attracting all sorts of fascinating birds and animals.

"Yet few if any of us pay it more than a passing glance.

"We want to change all that by encouraging people to look at the river and share in the ebb and flow of its life."

Kingfishers, gulls, waders and divers all need the river to survive. It also supports rare plants and animals.

Otters are increasingly seen in its tributaries and seals have been seen in the Pool of London as far upriver as London Bridge.

A free identification sheet can be downloaded from the ThamesWatch website to help put a name to the birds people see on the river, which might be of special interest to families with children aged five to 10.

www.thameswatch.org.

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