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The birds of East India Dock Basin

East India Dock Basin bird sanctuary
East India Dock Basin bird sanctuary

East India Dock Basin, the last remaining section of the once grand East India Docks, is home to a variety of birds in the heart of London's docklands.

Scores of different birds, including Kingfisher and Grey Heron, flock to the relatively small site close to the new developments of Canary Wharf.

Birds use the Tern rafts for nesting
Birds use the Tern rafts for nesting

Several bird watching huts are situated around the dock to give you an ideal opportunity to spot wildlife. Tern rafts, used for nesting, often attract Common Teal during the summer months. The Teal will fly to the north west coast of Africa for winter.

Black Redstart is one of the rare birds to visit East India Dock Basin. They favour derelict sites and were common during the Second World War. The redevelopment of London and the docks have seen their numbers decline in recent years.

The nature reserve, opposite the O2 arena, is unusual as most shores with salt marshes in England are engineered for boats and have housing close to the waters edge.

Some of the birds spotted are:
Canada Goose
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Little Ringed Plover
Reed Warbler
Tufted Duck

Plant life includes reeds and grasses that make a good habitat not only for nesting birds but also insects such as butterflies and grasshoppers.

The tidal water, a mix of fresh and salt water, is also teaming with fish and shrimp, and less commonly today - the eel.

You can see exposed mud in the basin, helped to form by algae and dead plants, and this can become a sea of yellow Buttonweed plants during the summer months.

One of the birdwatching hides
Observe the birds from one of the dockside hides

East India Dock is owned and managed by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority and is open daily between 8.30am and 5pm. The dock is a 10 minute walk from East India DLR.

For more information and travel advice visit the Lea Valley Park website .


The East India Docks were built between 1803 and 1806 after the success of West India Docks (1802). Prior to 1803 the East India Company were importing goods to nearby Blackwall since 1600.

Silk, tea, spices and wine were just some of the goods imported from south east Asia, east Asia and India.

To cope with the East India trade the docks were built around the existing Brunswick Dock. The docks were for the exclusive use of vessels engaged in the East Indies trade.

The docks were successful until the Second World War when bomb damage caused the Export Dock to close permanently. Like many other London docks the containerisation of cargo in the 1960s made the East India Dock obsolete. It was closed in 1967 by the Port of London Authority.

Oregano Drive, Nutmeg Lane, Coriander Avenue and Saffron Avenue are all local streets aptly named after the goods traded in the area.

Today only a small part of the original dock remains, but for the birds of London one of the most important.

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