Sometimes bizarre coincidences do happen and this week bore witness to one. Our RSPB Croydon local group has just published a new book on the history and recording of birds in the London borough. Flicking through I came across three bizarre recordings of puffins.

As it happens, the puffin is the charismatic bird choosen as the model for a giant inflatable we'll be taking to the House of Commons this week as part our campaign to get Gordon Brown to include a Marine Bill in the Queen's speech.

Two instances of puffins in London within the space of seven days when in my fifteen or so years of living in the Capital I've never come across sightings or recordings of wild puffins. I'm sure someone will correct me over this and it will transpire that urban puffins are as common as free newspapers! For now though, I'm delighted to be able to expand my knowledge of the weird and wonderful nature living in or visiting London.

I heard this week that Liverpool Street Rail Station will have to be closed for a few days over Christmas while a new bridge is installed and it reminded me that this central London station is just a few minutes journey away from our Rye Meads reserve in the Lee Valley. Rye Meads is THE place to go to see fantastic kingfishers right now. A pair nested in the man-made kingfisher bank within full view of one of the hides, and they've just hatched several chicks. The parents will be clearly visible ferrying food to and fro over the next few weeks. As flamboyant and colourful as the late George Melly, kingfishers have to be one of my all time favourites. Take the One network train from Liverpool Street to Hertford East and get off at Rye House. The reserve entrance is 400 yards down the road as you turn right out of the station. There are two trains every hour.

Rye Meads and the kingfisher are protected by UK law. Our marine life and coastline do not get the same protection and that's why I'll be accompanying a two metre tall inflatable puffin with a huge bill to the commons this week. If you believe our coastline, coastal communities and marine life deserve protection, then please support our campaign and lobby your MP or sign our pledge to Gordon Brown to ensure it makes it into the Queen's speech, as promised in the manifestos of the three main English political parties.

Anonymous