The London Wetland centre is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the Barnes area of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, by Barn Elms. The site is formed of four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames. Nowadays, it is a large, impressive bird and nature reserve and a stop over en route for many species of migratory birds.
On previous visits there we have seen Canada geese, plovers, bitterns and cormorants but also a vole and even heard a couple of peregrine falcons. There are plenty of different breeds of ducks to feast your eyes upon without spending hours in the hides, and spring is the perfect time to visit and get a film roll full of fluffy ducklings, just hatched from the nursery. Soon otters are to be introduced to the temperate zone and you will be able to see them from June in their newly built home.
The centre is located in Barnes on a reclaimed wasteland and features landscaped areas and wilder areas, each representing different geographical zones: you have the World wetlands, the Sheltered lagoon, the Peacock Tower or the Explore adventure area for the younger ones.
On arriving you can visit the Discovery centre to learn about how important wetlands are for sustainability, visit the Airport lounge to spot the latest arrivals or go to the theatre for talks and films. The staff organizes many walks, themed visits and photography courses all year round, advertised on the web site. I once did a fascinating plant and herbs walk and I have booked in their children wildlife photography workshop, soon coming up.
The café overlooking the pond is the perfect place for coffee and sandwiches before or after a long walk around the many weaving paths and the peaceful lakes. Before going home, I would also recommend a visit to the shop which sells unusual and ethical paraphernalia for gardening enthusiasts, great bird's feeders, cute wooden "hotels" for bees and lots of other interesting bits.
Buy your wild strawberry plants, old-fashioned violas and poppies from their garden and stock up on beautifully arty animal cards.
Open 7 days a week, 9.30am to 6pm - last admission 5pm Adult entry £9.99 See website for other pricing
Address : WWT London Wetland Centre Queen Elizabeth's Walk Barnes, London SW13 9WT Website