The beauty of the London Wetlands Centre & drowning iPods!
It’s right on our doorstep!
I think that makes us very lucky don’t you?
Have you been? Yes, then when did you last go?
I went last Spring with my 11yr old which he thoroughly enjoyed. However nearly being a teenager the prospect of visiting again or doing anything which didn’t involve electronics was met with a groan and “urgh this is going to be boring 2nd time around, do I have to go?” Of course I ignored him.
I had not taken my 8yr old, so was full of anticipation to see how he would find it. In fact my eldest really enjoyed the whole experience again as much as the 1st time around and my 8yr old equally so.
There was no moaning to be had except when my youngest dropped his Ipod in to the pond, yep, it turned out to be a very expensive trip indeed as totally useless even after being sat for two days in rice, which was a recommendation that unfortunately didn’t work.
In fact I captured the moment just before it dropped and evidence that in fact he was not using the wrist strap which he claimed to have done! Just goes to show, photos come in use sometimes for more reasons than just for viewing pleasure. (evidence below)
Please note most photos are displayed in a gallery, you can hover over the pics for a brief title but if you double click it will bring up large editions of the photos to scroll, much of the beauty of capturing the Wetlands cannot be seen small.
I found out about bug hotels when I was asked to go and write a piece up about a Community Project in Castelnaugh, you will find it here: Bug Hotels, Community & a cuppa!
I was intrigued by them and thought not only is it a great idea for every garden to have one but it’s also such fun for the children to build, be a part of their maintenance and growth.
It seems the palette bug hotel is the most popular probably due to it being the easiest. I was sure though that there would be more elaborate ones out there and low and behold on my Spring visit to the London Wetlands I did indeed find a very glamorous piece of art called a bug hotel. I confess to being fiercely envious of this one, wishing it was in my garden. You will find it here: WW Wetlands Centre ~ Beauty in Nature
We are in the process of building a bug hotel and I have done a little bit of research in to what is the best way to build them.
I have shared the links with you should you be so inclined to give it a try and I will write a post later, once complete on our home made East Sheen one.
You will see also in the last two photos a bee habitat, bees an important part of our ecosystem, without them pollination would not happen and that gives a greater knock on effect as you can imagine.
They are on the decline due to various reasons, so it is important to try in our small way to make our gardens as bee friendly if possible. There are plenty of ways to do this including through what flowers are planted as well as making a habitat for them.
White and black swans
I love swans and grew up with them at home. Did you know they mate for life?
A male swan is called a cob, the female a pen and they can fly up to 60 miles per hour WOW!
Their eggs take 35 – 42 days to hatch, that is a long time.
The black swan was from Australia and is my favourite colour swan. So striking and to me for some odd reason looks a little more alluringly fearsome. It was hunted to extinction in New Zealand but later re-introduced, thankfully.
The landscaping of the Wetlands is mesmerizing, one meanders like a snake between all the pockets of water and grassland stocked full of so many different species of flora and fauna. Even if you don’t know what is what, like me, one can just stand for a moment and take in it’s glorious beauty.
I love waterlilies, we never had them in our lake at home and I have always retained admiration for its striking, elegant features. They are I imagine the most sought after water plants.
This took me back seeing how green the water was here just in this one spot. My memory evades me to as why it is so green. I don’t believe algae, but probably some water plant perhaps?
Floral beauty and bees
As mentioned before we need to look after our bees so it was lovely to see quite a few buzzing around. Can you spot the bee?
Also the distinct colours between the flowers and greenery was almost as if painted, so striking.
Our family is not adverse to a bit of blackberry picking. In fact even though this year it has been rather poor very nearby I managed to make a lovely blackberry ice cream. It is extremely easy to make, I recommend you try if not this year but next, here is the write up/menu = Blackberry ice cream
I must say though the blackberries at the Wetlands Centre were second to none, we only had a couple but they were fat, juicy and sweet!
Dragonfly or Damselfly
I spotted this handsome or beautiful damselfly or dragonfly, the problem is I have no idea which. I always thought that dragonflies were more ornate in colouring, but upon looking them up this does not seem to be the case.
Now from my photos can you tell me which it is and type?
Here is an interesting link on who to identify which = Dragonfly or damselfly
It takes some while walking around the Wetlands, always set aside a few hours. As you can see my youngest found a natural pit stop whilst I found a fungi, wow it’s just huge!
Now I presume this is a grey heron, though not entirely sure. There is a section of the Wetlands Centre at the far end where you can go bird watching over the waters that are backed by some town houses on the other side. It is always odd to see such beauty and then the stark reality of London in the background.
It is not often I get to see a woodpecker. Normally you hear them rather than see them, well that is how it seems to be for me. This was pure chance spotting this one in the distance. He really was far away hence the photo quality of my camera not so good but at least he is there, I was rather chuffed to have caught him.
My parents knew everything about birds, flowers, fish and so forth being country folk gave them an added advantage. As a youngster I confess I wasn’t interested, I just wanted to escape to the City.
Now though I feel slightly sad that I do not have the knowledge, I can appreciate the beauty but it is at times like this when I do a write up and realize I do not know the name of this or that flower or bird that it catches up with me.
However, here are some beautiful feathered friends. We used to have ducks and moorhens at home amongst other types but I always remember the moorhens being extremely shy so it was constantly challenge to try and spot one. I am not sure if there are two types here, one with red beaks and one white or whether they are just different birds, perhaps you can enlighten me?
The children, as do I, always love these playful creatures.
The Wetlands Centre have EuroAsian Otters, they are small short clawed otters which are not nocturnal so we as customers get to see them which is fabulous.
Otters are included in the Wetlands Centre as they are a big part in an indicator as to health of the ecosystem in being that they are at the top of the food chain.
These two are now at the stage where they can breed, so everyone is waiting with baited breath.
Mother and chicks
I found these lovely birds right opposite the otters. The crowds were gathering so I drew myself away to look elsewhere and get a bit of space, it was then I saw this lovely mother and her ‘chicks’.
Again I don’t know the breed, however it was fascinating watching how she tended for her young, dipping in out of the water to get food, they would sit there with their mouths so wide open the gaping hole was nearly as big as their body. Then she would place carefully in whatever she had found for them.
So there you have it, a seasonal update on the London Wetlands Centre, if you wish to find out more about what they do, please take a look at their official website – The London Wetlands Centre
You can book tickets online here – online tickets
© Justine Nagaur, LivinginEastSheen.co.uk
You will also find events at the London Wetlands Centre, the next one coming up is:
Saturday 27 September
Wildlife photography: intermediate skills
10am – 4pm
If you already understand how your camera works and the basics of photography, but want to fine-tune your pictures of the natural world then this is the ideal course.
Based both in the classroom and outside you will explore and practice various advanced techniques and subjects such as
- Lighting and exposure
- Advanced camera settings
- Depth of field preview/ hyperfocal distance
- Field craft for wildlife photography
- Bird flight photography
- Advanced composition – to ensure your photos show what you want the viewer to see
The content will be tailored to the needs of course attendees, and with limited numbers there will be plenty of time for 1-2-1 tuition. Iain’s wildlife photography courses at London Wetland Centre are extremely popular and places fill up very quickly, so we advise you to book early. £55pp + admission. Booking essential: call 020 8409 4400.
Wildlife photography equipment: This course is suitable for users of SLR cameras only.