Above the airplanes come in and out of Heathrow whilst in the background emergency sirens can be heard frequently. In the middle of this are a series of disused Victorian reservoirs which are now a haven for wildlife in this busy city. Welcome to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust London Wetland Centre.
The main attraction at the moment for serious twitchers has been the sighting of a little bittern. The reed beds are the perfect habitat for this bird. It's the first time a little bittern has been spotted at the London Wetland Centre. This species is usually more at home in southern European climes. I was lucky enough to see a bittern at Potteric Carr near Doncaster many years ago and I know how elusive such birds can be.
For the less committed there are plenty of other birds to see all around. There is a selection of six hides ranging from the three storey Peacock Tower to the family friendly Headley Hide with large observation windows.
As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) wildlife conservation and research is at work all the time. When we went through the tunnel to the back of the sand martin bank we were able to witness the ringing of five sand martin chicks. The back of the nest has a wooden plate that is removed to get access to the chicks. While the chicks are being ringed the plate is left off so the mother knows something is wrong but will keep returning to the nest. If the plate is put back while the chicks are out of the nest the mother will think the chicks have been taken for good and will then abandon the nest.
Naturally education is also important at the London Wetland Centre. There's activities for ages with special sessions being run for children. Pond dipping and mini beast hunts are big hits.
It's not all about the birds. Naturally the waters are full of pond life but there are also mammals both wild and brought in. On the grazing marshes the cows sit down while the grey clouds gather overhead. Just another day for the London wildlife.
|Hosted by Rambling Woods|