• Eurasian Jay

The Urban Birder One Day Course

In association with Viking Optical

Dates & Location

  • Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve

    • New dates coming soon
  • Price:

    £60 per person

  • Group size: up to 15 participants
  • Time: 10am – 4pm

    (times may vary so please check the individual courses)

  • Lunch plus coffees and teas available (London only)
  • Locations are subject to change if factors like adverse weather conditions or traffic problems dictate
  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com

To Book

Group size: up to 15 participants

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.

Want a discount? Become a member and enjoy special prices and discounts!

Join TUBW Membership!



Do you feel this is perfect for a friend or a loved one? You can buy a gift card now!


Watching birds in urban areas is far easier than what you may have imagined. There is more out there and just pigeons. Over 600 species have been found within the UK since records began and over 90% have been discovered in our urban areas. Birds are everywhere, even in the heart of the concrete jungle. The knack is learning how to notice and eventually recognise the birds that share our urban lives.

The Urban Birder Course will be an introduction to appreciating the abundant birdlife in our urban areas. It will cover the definition of an urban bird, recognition techniques and tips on attracting birds into your garden.

Led by experienced urban birder Gary Elton, the venue for the courses will be: Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve, one of London’s main birding hotspots.

Rainham Marshes, part of the big landscape of the Thames Estuary, sits on the urban fringe of the metropolis that is London. One of very few ancient landscapes remaining in the city, it is the last and longest stretch of riverside marshland inside the M25 and acts as an international stop over for thousands of migratory birds navigating along the Thames Estuary, each year from all over the world. With stunning views and fabulous sunsets to be seen from the visitor centre, Rainham Marshes is a haven for all kinds of wildlife and you can expect to see breeding wading birds, while looking out for European Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warblers, Little Egrets, Northern Lapwings, Common Swifts, Common Starlings, Yellow Wagtails, Yellow-legged Gulls, Eurasian Hobbies, Water Voles, Water Shrews and Wasp Spiders.. and much more! Keep an eye out for new course dates in different locations in the UK and beyond.

The topics that will be covered include

  • Bird identification: recognising the usual suspects in urban areas.
  • Becoming a garden birder: what food to provide and how, what flora to establish and where to place nest boxes.
  • Optical equipment: how to use binoculars, when to use telescopes and basic wildlife photography tips with a recognised wildlife photographer.
  • Fieldcraft: how to actually watch birds in the field and what to wear whilst doing it.
  • Finding a local patch: how to identify good urban habitats and recording the birds you discover.
  • Urban bird migration: learning about the reasons why birds migrate.

We will also cover twitching, note taking and urban birding abroad.

By the end of this course you will be instinctively find yourself connecting with nature in any urban area.

TUBW in association with Viking Optical

Important Notes

The courses are usually held on Saturdays (and occasionally Sundays) starting at 10am finishing at 4pm. Please check the individual courses for their start times as they may vary. There is usually a quick introductory session in an indoor room before your guide takes you out to experience birding. It is advisable that you bring your own lunch on all of our courses as it may save you time waiting to be served in busy cafes with long queues!

Most components of this course will be held outdoors in the field so please dress accordingly to the season. Always dress warmer than what the day appears to be because hours in the field can be surprisingly chilly. Also, try to wear adequate footwear, as it could get muddy or slippery.

Although the Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed we will still try to behave responsibly to limit potentially spreading the virus. Mask wearing will be required indoors and optional outside. Rest assured that any loaned optics would have been disinfected before use.

If you need to borrow a pair of our loan Viking Optics binoculars (depending on availability) please stipulate that desire when you book to avoid disappointment on the day.

How to get here

By train

The nearest railway station to this reserve is Purfleet. Purfleet train station is on the C2C line from Fenchurch Street. The reserve is a 20 minute walk from the station following the brown pedestrian signs along the riverside path. Turn right out of the station and then join the path at the Royal Pub. Follow the River wall path and then cross the Mardyke Bridge to the Visitor Centre.

By bus

The ensignbus 44 bus route which runs between Lakeside and Grays, stops near the reserve entrance on New Tank Hill Road. This bus runs every hour and up to 30 minutes during peak periods.

By road

The reserve is located off New Tank Hill Road (A1090) in Purfleet which is just off the A1306 between Rainham and Lakeside. This is accessible from the Aveley, Wennington and Purfleet junction off the A13 and J30/31 of the M25.

The Urban Birder Day Course Crew

“The Urban Birder Day Course is based on a simple ethos: it’s all about showing people how easy it is to watch birds in a city. To learn about birds and urban birding just come with an open mind and an open heart!”

David Lindo, Founder

Gary Elton

Day Course Developer & Chief Tutor

A keen birder from the tender age of nine, Gary spent the majority of his early years birding near his childhood home, in and around North West London. Local patches in later years included Wormwood Scrubs with David Lindo and Hilfield Park Reservoir where at this latter site he also served as site warden for 12 years on behalf of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Gary also served as a Herts Bird Club committee member and has contributed to several birding publications and made several television appearances.

Gary now lives in Norfolk and plays an active part in birding there working part time at Holme Bird Observatory. He is a qualified ringer involved in running a local constant effort ringing site for the British Trust for Ornithology. Tour leading has become a major part of his working life and recent destinations include Israel, Northern Greece, Iceland, Spain, Bulgaria and The Gambia with other visits to Morocco, Switzerland, Mexico and North and South America. His other work also revolves around birds, primarily working off shore gathering data on seabirds and cetaceans.

You can reach him at: tours[@]theurbanbirderworld.com

Heather Wolf

Urban birder, photographer and author of Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront, Heather is a keen educator. Originally from the west coast, she has made Brooklyn her home and has single handily put Brooklyn Bridge Park on the ornithological map.

You can reach her at: tours[@]theurbanbirderworld.com


Lots of information and useful tips. Great knowledgable tutor – thanks Gary!

Alan Forset

It was an amazing day and I learned a lot!

Margaret Williamson

Excellent! A lot to learn! Fun and friendly – sold!!

Claudette Borrows

Great course for all levels.

Jenny Ahmed

We are now resuming our courses acknowledging strict Covid-19 prevention measures with full adherence to the current social distancing measures.

Please note: the courses may be cancelled at short notice if the government enforces new restrictions. Of course, you will be entitled to a refund or to have your course date deferred.

If you have booked a previous course that had to be postponed due to the lockdown measures your existing booking can be transferred onto any of the newly confirmed dates.

Please refer to the course guidelines and information for more details.

Be careful, be mindful of others and keep looking up!