The Bird Hide by Sara Heywood at Bow Arts RAW Labs

If you get off the Docklands Light Railway at Gallions Reach, one stop before the end of the line to Beckton, a short walk will bring you to a new development called Royal Albert Dock, right on the river Thames and opposite London City Airport.Photo by Caroline Banks

Bow Arts has worked with the developers to help create a soul and community to this location with RAW Labs, a purpose-built affordable studio complex with a gallery and cafe around one of the pools. It’s a wonderful place for artists to work with big skies and the light from the water. And, luxury of luxuries, the studios are heated! I’d be there in a shot if it weren’t so far away from where I live.

Photo by Caroline BanksSara Heywood, the recent artist in residence, was influenced by the waterside location and the proximity of London City Airport across the river. Bird life includes cormorants as well as the ubiquitous seagulls. The big birds, however, are the planes which fly directly overhead in to land. Her hide helps you identify both from its location facing the water with binoculars provided.

Photo by Caroline BanksPhoto by Caroline BanksIt’s cosy inside with views up to the flight path and there’s a handy identification chart too.Photo by Caroline BanksI was outside when this one came over and no, I can’t tell you what type it was.Photo by Caroline Banks Photo by Caroline Banksthere are little spyholes to see what else is going on around the hide.

Photo by Caroline Banks