8. We’re just here for the birds

Before I worked in the Isle Of Dogs, I think it’s fair to say I’d never spent much time thinking about aquatic birds. But the office I’m at the moment in sits on (over, in fact) the South Dock of the West India Docks, and outside the window every day we see feathery types bobbing around on the water. After a while, you start getting sucked in, and learn that this speedy little chap is coot (not a moorhen, as some initially claimed, which is a related bird):


And this is a cormorant, apparently:


Sometimes gulls circle in Hitchcockian numbers, and sometimes a few just hang out:


Then maybe you’ll see a mallard:


We’re lucky with our strange little 1980s building, it turns out, because mostly the birds don’t spend much time outside offices. You almost never see them on the Middle Dock (the bit in front of the tube station), and only a few frequent the North Dock. They are more likely to be found in the now-residential bits of the dock system – Blackwall Basin, Poplar Marina and the Millwall Docks, especially what was the Millwall Graving Dock, now in an ’80s development called Clippers Quay :

IOD map with docks.png

© Google 2017

It’s on the Graving Dock (find out about its history here) that I saw the great crested grebes in the picture at the top, and there are normally a variety of birds there:

Multiple birds.jpg

Then there are these two: I think the one at the back, despite its friendly vibe, is one of those evil fuckers, a Canada goose (I’m quoting the RSPB, or near enough). But the one at the front is something else – possibly a hybrid, because its head colouring is like a Canada goose until you get to the orange bill. If you know, let me know.


And there are some swans:


Along with the grebes, my favourites – although bastard hard to photograph with an iPhone, are these tufted ducks, with their weird, against-nature pale blue bills:

Tufted duck

So there you go: the last thing I expected from our office move was that I’d spend lunchtimes trying to get decent pictures of ducks.


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