Looking up

David Lindo, also known as the 'Urban Birder' (credit Markus Zeidler)
David Lindo, also known as the ‘Urban Birder’ (credit Markus Zeidler)

Helen Bigham from Suntrap meets David Lindo

Growing up with a passion for birds, the broadcaster and author David Lindo has turned his hobby into a career.

Now known as the ‘Urban Birder’, David’s on a mission to get everyone, particularly city-dwellers, better engaged with the nature around us. His message is simple: “Look up!”

Adds David: “Once you blot out the noise—sirens, dogs barking, people shouting—you get on nature’s wavelength and hear things you never heard before.”

I’ve got to know David through his role as president of Friends of Suntrap, a group representing the educational environmental centre in Epping Forest, run by Waltham Forest Council. Suntrap’s aim is to encourage everyone to experience nature first-hand, hopefully leading to a greater respect, understanding and collective responsibility for our natural world. Not forgetting that a strong connection to the outdoors improves our emotional wellbeing and stops feelings of social isolation.

David has been at the forefront in breaking down the stereotype of birdwatching as being the domain of white middle-aged and middle-class men. Following in his footsteps is Flock Together, a monthly birdwatching support club “combating the under-representation of people of colour in nature”.

Co-founded by Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera, the group launched during lockdown and has grown swiftly via word of mouth; with many more following Flock Together’s Instagram page, where new members can ask to join upcoming walks. So far, it has drawn in a diverse mix of young Londoners regularly meeting for walks, each lasting a couple of hours, on pre-planned routes through local sites such as Lea Valley Park and Walthamstow Wetlands.

In a recent interview, Perera and Olanipekun explained that Flock Together will provide a social space for its members and relieve some of the pressure of life in the capital. “I hope it releases them from feeling this necessity to ‘be something’,” Perera said. “I just want people to find some tranquility and being in nature gives you that; you realise that you don’t have to be anything more than what you are.”

People are increasingly visiting outdoor destinations, as shown with the latest visitor numbers for Epping Forest, which had 14 million people visit in September, an increase of ten million from this time last year. Maybe there are some new ‘twitchers’ among them?

For more information about Suntrap:
Visit suntrapcentre.co.uk