As one travels down the Thames, Tower Bridge is the last river crossing (apart from tunnels) in central London. Although it does not attract the range of birds found further upstream (in Barnes and beyond) or downstream (in the Thames estuary), it does offer the chance of a good lunchtime find for those who work in the area. (Map:; OS grid reference TQ336802)

History Edit

Tower Bridge has an interesting history. In the 19th century, London's East End became so densely populated that a new bridge was needed because journeys for pedestrians and vehicles were being delayed by hours. In 1876, the City of London Corporation, responsible for that part of the Thames, decided the problem could be delayed no longer. Because large vessels needed to continue upstream, the chosen solution was a bascule bridge that could be opened to avoid impeding river traffic. When it opened, Tower Bridge was the world's largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge. Despite the complexity of its mechanical system, the bascules took only a minute to raise to their maximum angle of 86 degrees.

Habitat Edit

The River Thames around Tower Bridge is a typical central London stretch of the river, surrounded by a diverse array of buildings, both modern and historic, with just a little greenspace nearby.

Species Edit


This stretch of the Thames is not a patch that would normally attract birders but there are always gulls to look through -- enough Black-headed Gull and Common Gull between autumn and spring to keep alive hopes of a Mediterranean Gull or Ring-billed Gull. OK, so none of these have yet been found, but the ever-present large gulls do include an occasional Yellow-legged Gull, And a Caspian Gull has been found just upstream at Blackfriars.

Cormorant are numerous, Coot and Moorhen are resident and Great Crested Grebe are occasionally seen. Other waterfowl are restricted to Mallard, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Mute Swans. Nearby St Katherine's Dock tends to hold the same birds and a small number of Tufted Duck.

An occasional wader, such as a Dunlin, Redshank or Oystercatcher, may fly through, but the area is too heavily disturbed for them to stop.

Passerines are scarce, particularly since the refurbishment of Potters Field Park, which led to the destruction of a dense shrubbery that still had House Sparrow, as well as breeding Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren and Song Thrush, and attracted an occasional migrant warbler in spring or autumn.

Peregrines occasionally perch on Tower Bridge and a Kestrel can sometimes be seen hunting around the Tower and the Tower Hill/Trinity Square area, but sightings of raptors are far from regular.

This is not the world's most inspiring patch, but a Leach's Petrel during the wreck of December 2006 and a couple of Kittiwake in 2007 show that even the unlikeliest patch can come up trumps now and again!

Other vertebrates

Information needed, please


Information needed, please

Practicalities Edit


Information needed, please


The Thames Path runs along the south bank for most of this section, allowing free access at all times.

Further information needed, please


Information needed, please

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