If you imagine London as an urbanistic city, you might catch yourself thinking that you’re terribly wrong while visiting the London Wetland Centre. It’s a blissful place few dozens of hectares big – and you’ll enjoy popping in with your friends, family and kids. And almost nothing will remind you that you’re in Barnes, pretty central in London, and not in the countryside.
What is the London Wetland Centre and WWT?
London Wetland Centre is a part of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), British conservational charity dating back to the post-war era, 1946. The very first wetland reserve was founded by Sir Peter Scott at Slimbridge but now there are more such conservational centres throughout the UK. They provide birds with shelter and safe sanctuary during the seasonal migrations as well as keeping the local birds and animals with a safe area to live.
The WWT operates worldwide too preserving the fauna on a global level as well as participating in scientific research. London Wetland Centre opened in 2000.
London Wetland Centre
There are several trails you can explore upon your arrival. We had a chance to explore two, and the summer part of the trail was closed – well, because we visited in autumn 🙂
Undoubtedly, birds are the main highlight of the WWT: geese, ducks, swans, cranes…. My absolute favorites were emperor geese, hooded merganser and white headed duck!
There are special spaces for otters there too, and you might be lucky to spot some other flora such as frogs, toads, mice, hedgehogs, lizards and even snakes depending on the season! Meadow and wetlands insects are on the spot too.
Picnic areas, lakes, gardens, marshy-style areas – everything’s here for you to explore. If you’re more into photography or want to observe the surroundings unnoticed, go to one of the hides. A pair of binoculars might be a handy addition to your bird watcher pack then!
Nevertheless, bear the social distancing in mind for these days, wear a mask and sanitise your hands when visiting hides – a few of them are closed including the famous Peacock tower, by the way, – and follow the arrows marking the one-directional paths!
Make sure you buy a special leaflet where you can mark the species you have a chance to spot. Searching for the differences in the feathers, beaks, eye colors was really exciting and reminded me of the time when I studied zoology in the uni and had pranctive in the field.
Planning your visit
We went to the London Wetland Centre in October prior to the lockdown. Bookings were available online, and the centre was closing for entrance an hour before the territory closed. Parking is also available outside of the area.
There is a small kiosk with food such as coffees, teas, soft drinks, pastries, sausage rolls, cookies etc, and the larger cafe was closed during our visit due to the COVID-19. The Shop looked really nice getting ready for Christmas time, and you can find there books, binoculars and amateur/kids bird watching equipment, soft toys, jewellery, mugs, keyrings, bird feeders and so on.
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