Barnes Foot Bridge west along Thames to Syon Reach

My patch mainly consists of the footpath beside the Thames and suburban roads (with some mature gardens) where access to the river is not possible. It covers both the Hounslow (north) and Richmond (south) banks. I chose it because it’s a great walk, rather than for its birds – that said, it’s interesting as everything varies enormously according to the tides, as well as the season. It’s also a very historic area with some ancient waterside buildings.

Being part of the Thames Path it’s heavily used by walkers, joggers, cyclists, rowers, floating gin palaces and even passenger boats. But getting out really early beats most of them.

Habitats include tidal river, a few rough scrubby patches, gardens, playing fields, allotments etc. There are no ‘wild’ patches. There are quite a number of trees along the route, but nothing to really call a wood and most mature trees are plane, sycamore or horse chestnut– there are very few oaks, for example. There are two aits along the route which provide refuge for ducks and large numbers of Canada Geese. Brentford Ait has a small heronry currently with about 20 nests. These were already occupied at the start of January 2006 and mating was seen on 8th January.

The area between Chiswick Bridge and Kew Bridge is on the flight path for Ring-necked Parakeets to their night-time roost and flocks of a hundred or more are now common early mornings and evenings.

Chiswick Quay has a marina which is quite quiet and usually has a couple of pairs of breeding moorhen, and kingfisher. Common tern visit to feed in the summer, but have not attempted to breed!

If you want to quench your thirst, there are some great historic riverside pubs along the way (and several restaurants especially at Kew Green). Nearby, Kew Gardens ([1])is just stunning, inspite of it not opening until 9.30am .

Public transport access is good – Barnes Bridge, Chiswick and Kew on SE Trains, and buses are frequent to the same stations ([2]).