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

Half Term Activities For Children at the Wetlands Centre

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Eggs, Bugs & Rock n Roll
WWT London Wetland Centre takes a light-hearted look at mating and dating

 

Authored from The Wetlands Centre

White-facedWhistlingDuckc_JackBoothbyLove is in the air and nowhere more so than at London Wetland Centre.

Come along to discover how birds, bugs and mammals attract a mate, their dating habits and what sort of partner they make.

If you thought your partner was clingy wait until you hear about male Angler fish!  And the Beatles aren’t the only ones to make sweet music; discover how animals use melody to make themselves more attractive.

Our Eggs, Bugs & Rock n Roll show is a fun and fascinating look at how animals meet, mate and mind the kids. After all, birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it – so come along and find out how!

The show is suitable for all ages over 8 years and runs daily at 14.30 from Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 February, 2015. Tickets are free with paid admission to the Centre.

And it’s a good time of year to build a Love Nest. Come and decorate a bird box to give a good home to a young (feathered) couple or build a bird feeder from scrap, our very own Scrap Cheep Challenge!

 

Asian short-clawed otters

Asian short-clawed otters

Eggs, Bugs & Rock n Roll is free with paid admission to the Centre: reserve your tickets by emailing info.london@wwt.org.uk  Tickets can only be reserved prior to the day you wish to attend, not on the day.  Some charges apply for the craft activities.

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, Water’s Edge Café, Observatory, a gift shop and free car park. The Centre also has adventure play areas for children.

 

The beauty of the London Wetlands Centre & drowning iPods!

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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.

The moment just before the iPod went in to the water

The moment just before the iPod went in to the water

 Bug Hotels

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.

Building and Insect Hotel Habitat

Wild about Gardens

How to make a bee hotel

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.

Wetland Landscaping

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.

Waterlilies

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.

Blackberries

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

A fungi

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!

Heron

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.

Woodpecker

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.

woodpecker

woodpecker

 

Birds Galore

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?

 

Otters

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.

Evening wildlife photography at WWT London Wetland Centre Thursday 14th August

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Thursday 14 August

Evening wildlife photography at WWT London Wetland Centre

4pm – 8.30pm

This workshop gives keen photographers a rare opportunity to enjoy WWT London Wetland Centre in a relaxed, secluded atmosphere when most of the other visitors have left. Experience the beautiful evening light from late afternoon until dusk, taking advantage of the changing conditions to capture images that aren’t possible during normal opening hours.

The evening starts with an introductory session looking at composition and technique and you will then head out onto the reserve to spend the majority of the session outside under the guidance of wildlife photography tutor, Iain Green.

This is a tutor-led session and participants must stay with the group at all times.

£39. Includes admission to the Centre after 3.30pm.  Booking essential: call 020 8409 4400.
Location

Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT.

Nearest Station: Barnes, Barnes Bridge.

Nearest Bus Routes: 33, 72, 209, 283.

County

London

Visit Website

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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!