Early Easter Present at the Wetlands

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 Early Easter Present at the Wetlands

Wardens at WWT London Wetland Centre are celebrating an early Easter present after three rare Nene goslings recently hatched.  Only about 1,000 Nenes – pronounced ‘nay-nay’ after their call –  survive in the wild in their native Hawaii.  The goslings are out just in time for Easter; the proud parents seem unconcerned about the fuss their offspring are causing among visitors to London Wetland Centre!

Nene Goslings at the Wetlands Centre

Nene Goslings at the Wetlands Centre

 

Nenes, otherwise known as Hawaiian geese, are close to the hearts of staff at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) as Sir Peter Scott, who founded the Trust, established a captive breeding programme in the 1950s.  At that time less than 30 Nenes survived in the wild.  Thanks to a reintroduction programme by WWT in the 1960s there are now between 1000 – 2000 Nenes in the wild. Approximately 25,000 of the birds inhabited the Hawaiian islands in the 18th century but the introduction of predators by Europeans, as well as hunting, caused the population to decline.

They are distantly related to Canada geese, a common site in London, evolving from them about 500,000 years ago.

Wetlands Centre

Wetlands Centre

WWT London Wetland Centre is a 105 acre wetland visitor centre in Barnes, southwest London, an international award-winning visitor attraction and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to a wide range of wildlife species including birds, water voles, bats and amphibians. Facilities include six wildlife hides, the Water’s Edge Café, an Observatory, a gift shop and free car park. The Centre also has indoor and outdoor adventure play areas for children.

WWT London Wetland Centre
Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT

WWT Wetlands Centre ~ Beauty in nature!

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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.

Wetlands Centre Barnes

Entrance to the Wetlands Centre

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.

Nesting Season.

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.

Black swans.

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 felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” ― Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar

Yurts.

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.

East Asian Otters

Asian Otters

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!

Teddington Lock on a fine Sunday afternoon!

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What to do on a Sunday?

I wanted to go to York House after having seen the photos of the statues in water, a great photo opportunity for my budding passion.  However, they are not open on Sundays so out came the trusted tablet and Google, where to go?

Shall we take the dogs?

pug and french bulldog

They look innocent right?

Sometimes we leave them at home when embarking on a nice tea experience as my young frenchie and greedy pug aren’t really conducive to a relaxing time in this type of environment.

Is that mean of me?  No way.

I have found out that attaching leads around either table or chair legs not a good idea as the strength of either dog having spotted a scrap of scone or jam seem to take on the ability to pull a truck as various pieces of furniture go flying in their attempt to race to the fallen morsel first.  As for the option of holding the lead, that’s fine if you want dislocated shoulders.  If you like Tom & Jerry though you would enjoy the show.

So it’s Teddington Lock

Teddington Lock

Teddington Lock

A few things came up, should we go to a famous house?  No, the kids said, “boooooring” they were in one of those “Kevin the teenager” moods and seemingly not much was going to wet their appetite.  So mummy (aka me), decided to go hard ball and said “that’s it, the dogs are coming and we are going to visit a Lock”.  “What is that?” they said, I left the question unanswered until we got there, just manipulating enough interest out of them with the unknown to keep them quietish/well behaved during the journey.  This really means, there weren’t any whiney “do we have to go there” “I want to stay at home” kind of sentences.

We arrived

Landmark Arts Centre

The Landmark Arts Centre is a creative resource for the whole community in south west London.

Landmark Arts Centre

Landmark Arts Centre

There aren’t many parking places, so nip down various side streets and you might find one.  It took us about half an hour from East Sheen to get there on a Sunday.

We passed on the way the Landmark Arts Centre, lots going on here and it was in fact the stunning building that caught our eye first as seen here.

The Landmark Arts Centre holds
  • a diverse, year-round programme of arts events and fairs
  • arts classes, courses, workshops, for adults and children
  • visual art exhibitions in their unique art gallery
  • space hire, sponsorship opportunities, business membership, personal and family memberships, and volunteering opportunities.

Moving on –  If taking prams there are walkways as well as stairs, plus there are many ‘tiers’ to walk on.  I.e. you can walk right down by the waterfront, look at the boats, a smoother surface further up and then a stony/muddy area.  I tended to hop from one to the other much like TV channel surfing to get the best experience of all.

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Teddington Lock

Teddington Lock

Of course, for me, looking at all the different kinds of boats was fascinating.  The lock is quite ‘murky’ to look at but the huge fast flowing expanse of water quite dramatic.  I saw a few children feeding the birds, some birds deciding to circle like the mafia, swooping down and causing fights with others, all entertaining stuff.

I am not sure how far we walked, but it was certainly far enough.  Enough time for one man to come out and tell my youngest off for stepping on one of his ropes and ‘making his boat sway’. My 8yr old is a scrap of a child and I was doubtful that he would have enough weight to sway anything but the man reminded me of Victor Meldrew so we apologized profusely and continued on our way.  We saw plenty of other boat Owners coming out and conversing, their dogs tagging along and it was a nice experience to see ‘boat life & community’ on a semi decent day as far as weather was concerned i.e.: it did not rain at that particular moment.

BMX Track

The kids spotted this a mile off!  Yes a BMX Track was near the bridge where we crossed to walk down the side of the lock, so if any of you have any BMX’s you might want to bring them along.  I must say it took quite some persuading to tell the kids “no you can’t use your regular bikes here”…why?  “because they will fall to bits”  The muddy hills and dips were really quite severe, perhaps this is normal for a BMX track, but I think I might gain a few grey hairs if I saw my children traversing such hilly climbs though thrilling I am sure.

The Pub

There were a couple of pubs on the way back; we chose one where we had seen people outside with dogs prior.  The children were gagging by then for something to quench their thirst after climbing various trees and annoying various boat owners, it’s all hard work that you know for a youngster!

All in all a thoroughly pleasant afternoon!

A little gallery for your perusal.

As always I welcome comments/feedback, someone out there talk to me! 🙂

© Justine @ LivinginEastSheen.co.uk