The London Wetland Centre, Barnes, London
The London Wetland Centre opened in 2000 and is an urban oasis for wildlife and people close to central London. The wetland reserve is managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the site is based on four disused Victorian reservoirs tucked into a loop in the Thames. In 2002 an area of 29.9 hectares was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest as the Barn Elms Wetland Centre. The site is over 100 acres (40 hectares) in total and the small reservoirs were converted into a wide range of wetland features and habitats, making it the first urban project of its kind in the United Kingdom.
Many of the wild birds that have made a home at the Centre cannot be found anywhere else in London. For the twitchers, there are significant numbers of gadwall and northern shoveler and other wild birds include sand martin, common kingfisher, little grebe and great crested grebe, Eurasian bittern, northern pintail, northern lapwing, water rail, a ring-necked parakeet and sparrowhawks. The centre also holds a collection of captive wildfowl.
The Centre was voted the UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve by readers of Country File magazine and is great for a relaxing stroll along the paths that weave among the lakes and gardens. As well as all the birds, the centre is a haven for butterflies, bats, amphibians, water voles and otters and people love to watch the antics of the otter family at feeding time. The London Wetland Centre has six hides to watch the wildlife from, two kids’ adventure zones and a café.
The London Wetland Centre is less than a mile from Physio on the River and a nice walk if you want to have a look around.