A Squacco heron appears to have made itself at home at the Crossness nature reserve in Bexley, South East London. It is claimed that the last Squacco heron seen in London was at the Kingsbury Reservoir in 1866, but there have been some other more recent reports.
There have been around 50 reports of Squacco heron’s in the UK over the last 50 years or so, and there are unconfirmed reports of another Squacco in another part of Kent too. There have also been sightings of a Purple Heron and a Quail (the latter hasn't been seen in this borough since 1969) The Squacco was spotted on the afternoon of 29 May and has been seen on the Southern Marshes of Crossness ever since. The Squacco heron is mainly found in southern Europe, though it winters in Africa.
The sighting follows a £500,000 project at Crossness by Thames Water, Bexley Council and the charity Groundwork. Work has involved restoring reed bed and ditch habitat for water voles and creating a new wader scrape which has attracted the heron. The site has also been opened up to the public with a wildlife viewing screen enabling ornithologists to get close to the bird without disturbing it. eports.Crossness Nature Reserve is a small oasis within an industrialised urban environment, providing a unique opportunity to escape city life and enjoy one of the last remaining areas of grazing marsh within the Greater London area. The reserve is part of the original Thames floodplain known collectively as the Erith Marshes. With much of the marshland having been developed to provide business and residential opportunities, the creation of Crossness Nature Reserve in 1996 secured part of this important, declining habitat for nature conservation and public access. As a result of the regionally important communities of wetland birds, plants and invertebrates, the site has been awarded Local Nature Reserve. Click Crossness Nature Reserve to read more about the reserve, and to find out how to get there. http://www.wildlifeextra.com/crossness-squacco.html