28 December 2011

A quick trip to the London Wetland Centre

It is a fair point to argue that not visiting the London Wetland Centre in Barnes for almost two years is making poor use of my membership but at least my recent quick trip there helped to reduce the cost per visit ratio.

The main purpose of this visit was to try out some binoculars, they have an excellent shop in the upper level of the shop, but I was not going to miss the opportunity to stretch my legs in the wild.

The Wetlands are, broadly, laid out in a U shop with the entrance, shops and cafe at the base of the U.

Heading up the left side first took me along a series of curved paths through tall reeds and past ponds and canals.

Here you can get quite close to ducks, geese and swans, though there are not that many still around in December.

This area is zoned with large gates to keep the birds in their proper places.

For some reason flying over the fence does not occur to them.

The paths divide and reconvene at intervals extending a short walk in to a reasonable one. The end is marked with a hide that peers over the still water and on to Barnes.

The other side of the U has a different character with straighter paths and no fences. The end is the same though except that the hide at the end, the impressive Peacock Tower, is three stories high to provide more commanding views of the area.

All of the hides are more-or-less the same, and there are several across the centre. They are basic sheds with little attention to the comfort of the human inhabitants who probably would not notice them if they were there anyway as they are all well prepared with all you need to survive a day in a shed looking at birds.

At least the hides are well-equipped for bird watching with an abundance of shallow windows that can be opened in sections to remove the unwanted obscurity of the glass.

This is the view from the Peacock Tower across the grazing marshes and with the incongruous Barnes behind.

The restrained animation from the hide's inhabitants indicated that there were several birds worth looking at from here but you needed rather moor zoom than I was carrying at the time to see them.

Not that the birds particularly interested me, I was happy enough with the marshes and the walk required to get there.

The London Wetland Centre is a unique and valuable habitat that successfully holds at bay the city that surrounds it. I am lucky to have it on my doorstep and a bus to take me there. Must do that more often, perhaps in Spring when there are more birds around.

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