First wild raven seen in London since 1850

Wapping home to wild raven

It’s a well known fact to people who live here that Wapping is teeming with wildlife. Foxes, herons, squirrels, huge carp in the canal, numerous small birds of all varieties including sparrows and wagtails, magpies, jays, our beloved Egyptian Geese of course, swans and now… a raven!

How cool is this? Our very own Wapping raven.

Veronica (Ronnie) the raven in Wapping Woods
Veronica (Ronnie) the raven in Wapping Woods

Wild ravens have not been seen in London since around 1850.

Veronica as she is now known was first spotted by the Love Wapping Nature Patrol Chief Warden last year but at the time her significance was not realised. Our Chief Warden is not very good at identifying different types of birds as he has yet to equip himself with binoculars due to funding cuts.

Veronica the Raven was just another large black bird partial to nuts originally destined for the squirrels and it was only yesterday, when the Nature Patrol Chief Warden was on patrol with the Wapping Goose Wrangler, that some good photographs were taken.

How to spot Veronica the Wapping Raven

The Nature Patrol Chief Warden informs us that the best way to work out the difference between a raven and an ordinary crow is the shape of the head. The raven’s head is much rounder and has a noticeable neck. And ravens are bigger than crows. More details about ravens here on the RSPB site.

The Wapping Goose Wrangler put a link to the photos on Twitter and Chris Skaife, the Ravenmaster at Our Local Fortress (aka the Tower of London) agreed that Veronica is a raven. This was also confirmed by Nathan Emery, a lecturer and biology researcher into ‘feathered apes’ at Queen Mary College, University of London.

Which is good enough for us.

The relationship if any between Veronica the Wapping Raven and the ravens kept at the Tower of London is not known at present.

Where to see Veronica

Veronica can be seen in Wapping Woods and the Wapping Rose Garden at various times of the day. She likes nuts but is partial to carrion too.

You can find out more about Chris Scaife and his charges at Our Local Fortress in a superb feature by Spitalfields Life here.

For more information


 All photographs on this page © Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved Vickie Flores

9 thoughts on “First wild raven seen in London since 1850

  1. Nice photo, but this bird is surely a Carrion Crow. The bill size and shape and the bird’s overall structure are wrong for Raven and right for Carrion Crow. For the record, wild Ravens are actually seen in London every year, and breed not far away.

      1. Hi Mark, there is no particular place you can expect to see Ravens in the London area because they are still very scarce. Occasionally they have been reported from the Copped Hall area near Epping, while others have been seen very recently just outside London near St Albans and towards Gravesend. Once in a while birds occur along the Lower Thames, where the landfill site at Rainham Marshes and other similar habitats attract lots of scavenging crows. They are best identified in flight, when not only the long neck and large size but also the big, diamond-shaped tail are the best clues. Happy looking!

        1. Another genuine reason for me to buy a longer telephoto lens and a pair of binoculars! It has been the diamond-shaped tail I have been looking for. And hoping to hear that very odd sound they make. It’s a pity Ronny is not a raven, but i do have the consolation that Ronny often follows me around Wapping and on the way to work.

          I don’t suppose you know anything about the possible reasons for a ‘murder of crows’ at all?

  2. I’m dead chuft to hear about this, I only live in Shadwell and might make the effort to try and spot Veronica. We have an annual crows nest in our courtyards London Plain tree and each year tend to get first day out the nest fledglings on our doorsteps!

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