A joyful chance to encounter nature at it’s best, right in the heart of our Urban City.
Have you been to the Wetlands Centre in Barnes? If not, you really must go, but don’t just take my word for it, I am sure once you have taken a look at the pictures below you will be penning a visit in your diary.
A day arrived with a need of something to do, a place to go.
It was what seemed to be yet another day where the children were not at school for one reason or another, this time it was my eldest, so I pondered what I could do nearby that would interest him. I had been to the Wetlands quite some time back when my youngest was in a pram, I was exhausted and due to sleep deprivation didn’t seem to enjoy it anything like I did this time. The beauty and vastness of the place is awesome, it was as if this time it was somewhere completely different.
This post will be predominantly a visual post, but let me tell you a little bit about this amazing place we have right on our doorstep.
What is the WWF?
The Wildfowl & Wetlands trust is the largest and most notable wetland conservation organisation that works world wide ensuring improvements and safety of the wetlands for wildlife and people. It was founded by the late Sir Peter Scott in 1946 and this Trust is now complemented with a network of UK visitor centres which comprises of 2,600 hectares in totality. This is all supported by a much valued membership base of over 200,000 people.
Different areas & activities to do .
There are different areas of the Barnes Wetlands Centre as you will see through the photographs. A vast variety of things to see and activities complement the day, making sure you will not want for something to do.
It is impossible to list everything that is available and we ourselves only touched on a few bits and even this took us all day.
At the end of this post I have listed the page not only for the Wetlands Website but also their seasonal activities current. But first we have lots of pictures to see and bits to read. 🙂
One educational area, ‘The Lodge’.
“The Lodge” was one of the areas we encountered which is a replicated lodge where tools used to make baskets for catching fish are displayed plus a scene of how it would look if someone lived there.
Bug Hotels & Bird Feeding.
I was stunned by the what I call ‘Bug Hotels’ as seen below which also had a bird feeding area on top, all built out of materials found at the Wetlands.
I wrote a post previously about ‘Bug Hotels’ here, and now am inclined after seeing this to get my children to help me build one in the garden when and if we get slightly sunnier weather.
If you want to know how to build a bug hotel, here is one useful website where the RSPB details how to do so, click here.
Wetlands for everyone.
The great thing about the Wetlands is it is for everyone. I felt a little daunted at first when trying to chose an activity for the day, things like “well I am not really a bird watcher, I know a morhen but that is about as far as it goes” Which is pretty shameful considering I grew up in the countryside. Anyhow, you can be a complete novice like me and just enjoy the visual delights, young or old, there are things to learn, places to go and you can chose either a hectic or relaxed outing.
Relaxation & Rest.
There are plenty of areas to snack and rest. The second picture shows how nature is constantly used within the Centre to provide not only for the Wildlife present but humans too.
My son was rather excited to find an egg, of course now we are in the nesting season it is not a surprise but still rather nice and gives children surrounded by an Urban environment to experience something that I as a child who grew up in a small village, took for granted.
The beauty of swans.
Swans have always made me a bit nervous, having grown up with them I know how protective they can be of their young and or themselves it seems, luckily these ones seemed to be dozing in the suns rays.
Did you know that swans usually mate for life and if one dies the other might pine and remain alone, though it is known for them to eventually find another mate, it does show a lovely side to them.
Huge variety of birds.
You will see a wide range of ducks, geese and swans from around the world. Even if not a bird watcher, it truly inspires one to want to know more about these beautiful creatures.
Each day at 3pm you can see them being fed by the wardens and learn more about the threats that are posed to them environmentally.
Now though I am frightened of swans, I found the black ones absolutely stunning, mesmerising in fact even to the point that when they closed in together as a duo it took my eldest son to flee before I did.
Black swans originate from the Southwest regions of Australia and were nearly hunted to extinction in New Zealand before being reintroduced.
I was surprised to see a Mongolian Yurt being uncovered and prepared for visitation. As most know there has been an increase in ‘Glamping’ Holidays and with this the increased presence and knowledge of Yurts.
But do we know anything about them, or just merely enjoy staying in one in our beautiful English countryside?
A yurt was originally a dwelling, built to be portable traditionally used by the nomads of Central Asia, it was in fact their home. The structure looks like a crown, this is achieved by being steam bent as is the roof.
The Otter Area.
This I must admit was one of my favorite areas. They had two otters, who had apparently known each other well over a year. The idea being that they will mate and should have done by now, but the male seems to be in a relaxed state, taking his time over this.
We do have native otters in the UK, however they are nocturnal, which from the point of view of visitors being able to see and enjoy them would not work, so they have got Asian short-clawed otters instead which are not nocturnal and slightly smaller.
Feeding times are at 11am and 2pm.
We got to see this and it was rather fun. The warden had to be quite careful because they can get a little over zealous in wanting their food and can bite, you will see in some of the pictures below how they approached and got their food.
After all the hard work of getting their food you will see they had a good old bathe.
Children’s outdoor play area.
There is also a ‘Play Zone’ which is great fun, even for my 11yr old. They have what looks like a rabbit warren for children to crawl through, coming out in to various other areas to entertain themselves.
Never a dull moment.
There is so much to see and do at the Wetlands Centre, even on a rainy day it is worth a visit.
There is the Observatory for some bird watching, a Gallery of photographic exhibits plus the Discovery Centre which is an indoor playzone, taking youngsters through the journey of the wetlands of the world.
We also found near the Pond Zone an area called Trip Down the Plughole which follows our waters journey from sink to toilet, through a real sewer pipe and in to the wetlands. In this area were many educational pieces. It highlighted the dangers of chemicals which are so often used in domestic electrical appliances which then push this then hazardous water in to our sewage system, causing environmental damage. It was very eye opening and applicable to all.
Microscope viewing area.
We found this great area which has microscopic stations. I guess the idea being to possibly collect some bugs or plant life and take a good look under them. However we did not have such things, but my son with his curiosity decided as boys do, to stick his finger underneath.
We were both sufficiently appalled as my son is a nail biter. I have been trying to get him to stop for ages now. The sight was truly disgusting of seeing his bitten nail and skin enlarged that he turned around to me and said “mummy I promise I will never ever bite my nails again.”
So you see, the Wetlands has another string to their bow!
Eating & relaxing.
Finally we had time to rest our weary feet and go to get a bite to eat in the Cafe. Going anywhere new one always wonders what the quality and service might be like. The prices were average, ie didn’t break the bank and yet absolutely delicious. We had mushroom straoganoff with sour cream and capers served with rice.
You can’t beat being able to sit outside on the water, with great food and view it was a bargain.
For a seasonal surprise there are Egg-Citing Activities at the Wetlands, click here for more information.
To find out more about the Wetlands Centre in Barnes, admission prices, yearly memberships etc, click here
© Justine @ LivinginEastSheen.co.uk
All and any comments appreciated!