London Wetland Centre – Urban Nature

This April while in London I birded 2 locations – Hyde Park and London Wetland Centre. As I noted previously Hyde Park was a 15 minute walk from our hotel and was good for the local birds. The following is a general overview of the London Wetland Centre in case someone is in London and is deciding where to bird. In a future post I’ll reference this post in relation to US birding sites.

London Wetland Centre Background

London Wetland Centre was conveniently from the Kensington area by taken the subway for 15 minutes followed by a 10 minute bus ride . It is one of nine unique wetland centres in the UK run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). The site is made from a reclaimed water supply area and covers 105 acres.

The site was envisioned as a “truly urban nature preserve” and this could be seen through its educational activities. “The Wetlands of the World” area had exotic waterfowl wandering around for people to enjoy.

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The “Wetlands of the World” area had many exotic species like this Red-breasted Goose.

The Grounds

Let me say the entry fee is not cheap unless you’re a member. For an out-of-town visitor the entrance fee was 13 pounds – $20.  But I thought this was a fair price given I spent 4 hours there and got good views of most of the expected birds.

The flat paved trials make for easy access. The Visitor Centre has a handicapped accessible glass-in area with a view of the wetlands. The day I visited was a school holiday so many families were there enjoying the site.

But given all that it had several serious birders working around the crowds. At least 20 and this was a Tuesday. Many of those birders appeared to be regulars since they knew each other and when calling out birds had names for the distant buildings as reference points.

The Wetland Centre was designed to watch birds without disturbing them. There are berms that hide the crowds from the birds and viewing is mostly through the 7 hides (blinds). Which is the beauty of the place. Without the berm and hides the birds would constantly flush, like in the US.

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A view from the Wildside Hide looking back at Peacock Tower and Wader Scrape hide on the left. I think this shows why shorebirds and waterfowl like the site.

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The north Reservoir Lagoon viewed from the third floor of the Wildside Hide.

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Numerous Black-headed Gulls were seen from the hides. Check previous blogs under the Europe category for more species photos from the Wetland Centre.

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I think this is a view of the north side of the property.

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Each small island held several different species.

To wrap up this short review, the London Wetland Centre would be a good choice for a birder visiting London who had a few hours and wanted to see the expected species.

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