RFI – London, UK (April 2023)

Hi all,

My wife and I are going to be in London, UK for a week in mid-April. I’m looking for recommendations for mammal watching sites in the immediate area. I’ll be spending three days in Woking, SW of London, for a walrus research workshop. iNaturalist has some roe deer and hedgehog records for that area, so I’ll be trying for those species there if I have time to do so. We’ve got 4 days to play tourist outside the workshop, thus limited time overall for dedicated mammal watching as this is our first time in London and will be doing all or most of the typical tourist stops.

I am hoping to get to Richmond Park (one of the Royal Parks) some evening to look for red and fallow deer, possibly Bushy Park and/or Greenwich Park as well for the same species. If anyone can suggest a priority park of the three that would be much appreciated.

London Wetland looks like a good spot for water vole and bats. I’ll have my bat detector (Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro) with me and will be trying to use that nightly. London Wetland is also doing a bat walk on one of the nights we’ll be in London, so I’m hoping to attend that if I can make the scheduling work (we have to switch hotels that day so it might be difficult to get things lined up).

The Regent’s Park is a site where hedgehog research occurs, and is quite accessible from the downtown core area. Are there other or better places to possibly see a hedgehog?

Badger seems like a low likelihood species to pick up in London proper, but if there are any decent locations to try it would be great to hear about those as well.

Our last two nights in the UK will be spent at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow, which I mainly picked because the grounds and gardens have muntjac deer and some neat birds. I figure that’s a good place to spend a day wandering the grounds and an evening doing the same with my bat detector. Has anyone spent any time there?

I haven’t done so yet, but I will be contacting groups like the UK Mammal Society, The London Bat group, the Bat Conservation Trust, and The People’s Trust for Endangered Species as well to see if they can offer any advice or if any relevant activities like volunteer surveys are going on while we’re in London. I’ve reviewed the various UK mammal reports and the RFIs on this site, and they’ve been helpful as well. It definitely seems as though getting further out from London would be best, but that’s not in the cards for this trip (maybe a bus tour to Stonehenge but that’s likely it).

All of the potential mammal species there will be new for me, with the exception of the introduced and ubiquitous grey squirrel (which I see daily in my yard here in Winnipeg) and red foxes (which can easily be found in my neighbourhood). So I’m very open to any suggestions of sites where I could possibly see any mammal species.

Thanks, and happy mammal watching!

Jeff Higdon

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  • Miles Foster

    Hi, Jeff,

    I hope you have a great trip. It sounds as though you have already identified a good many likely sites. However, I wonder if you are interested in seeing European mammals. As you may know, there is a thriving if not altogether welcome population of Fat Dormice (Glis glis) in the London area. They have been seen in Ealing, West London (try Brent River Park) and at Denham (try Denham Country Park, ca. 30 mins. by car from Woking / Harrow) but they can be found anywhere from Beaconsfield to Luton. Here’s a link to a clip from a popular TV programme that might be of interest. https://www.google.com/search?q=edible+dormouse+london. They were accidentally introduced from Europe in the 1920s and are considered invasive. Still, it’s a mammal…! I’ll let you know if I have any further thoughts.

    Best wishes,

    Miles Foster

    • JeffHigdon

      Thanks Miles. Definitely interested in seeing Dormice if I can, they are such interesting looking critters! I thought April would possibly be too early though, as I read somewhere that they usually hibernate later than that. I’ve added these sites to list of possible locations to check out.

      • Miles Foster

        Yes, that’s true but you might be lucky and see them in April, especially with the crazy climate we have now. Spotlighting would be your best bet and listening for the crazy noises they make up in the canopy. There’s a chance of Hazel dormouse as well, of course; anywhere around London that has suitable habitat but they are tricky and in decline and the same applies about hibernation, of course. A heat scope would be invaluable…

        Best of luck!

  • Olli Haukkovaara

    Hi Jeff,
    I visited UK and London last year, looking for mammals too. Please see my blog:
    I hope you will have better luck in London than I did.

    Best wishes, Olli

    • JeffHigdon

      Thanks Olli, that’s a great blog post, and congrats on the lifers you got there. 22 mammals on a UK trip seems quite impressive, but point taken re: success in London versus in areas outside the city. I’m glad you mentioned the Natural History Museum and it being worth a visit, and that’s a priority for me too.

  • bnchapple

    Hi Jeff, a couple of quick thoughts that I hope are helpful. I’d definitely recommend Richmond Park over the other two – it’s by far the largest and (in my opinion) most attractive of the London parks. Besides the deer, there are also decent numbers of Badger, although I’ve only ever seen them well after dark. Hedgehog is reported occasionally but is rare, and Wood Mouse is usually pretty easy after dark if you have a thermal scope. Common and Soprano Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s Bat are reliable. I’ve never missed Little Owl there at dusk if you’re also interested in birds.

    Regent’s Park isn’t a great place to look independently for Hedgehog in my experience – there are only something like 30 individuals there and you can’t enter the park after dusk. If you do go, try the area of rough vegetation around the London Zoo car park. Further north, Hampstead Heath has a bigger population but is slightly less accessible from central London. I live locally and will be out looking for them once it gets a bit warmer. Wood Mouse also easy here, and can be good for Noctule.

    Good luck!


  • JeffHigdon

    Thanks Ben, appreciate the confirmation that Richmond is the best of the three parks. I thought that was the case based on my reading, but it’s always good to get local intel. Great to learn that badger is a possibility there as well. Also good to know that I can’t visit Regent’s Park after dark, I wasn’t aware of that.

  • JeffHigdon

    Hi all,

    A brief update and a quick note to say thanks to everyone who provided advice. My wife and I got back to Canada from London on Saturday, after spending a whirlwind week overseas. I had limited time to look for mammals but still had what I consider to be a very successful trip. I need to sort through all my bat detections and get a final list compiled, but I picked up a number of different species, all of which are new for me. Also saw a water vole in Woking. I figured I had a reasonable shot at seeing 4 of the 6 deer species, and managed to get all 4. Getting a good look at a muntjac (and a photo) was a grind, but I managed to pull it off. I’ll get a trip report compiled and posted as soon as I can, but once again, thanks to all who answered my RFI! Cheers,


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