15 September 2014

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

London bucket lists simply never end. The city is so busy and vibrant that no sooner that you've ticked something off, several more dance their wicked way onto the lineup. Sitting on that list for far too long were plans to visit (always seeming to fall a-fowl (sorry) of something else) the luscious lilypads of Barnes Wildfowl and Wetland Centre.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre


Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Fast-foward to a conversation mid-last week at To Kill a Mockingbird (ironically enough) with my partner-in-blog-crime Ngaire, and we found ourselves on a sunny Saturday morning sauntering around pathways criss-crossing the reserve.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre
 
Two Kiwi birds, looking at more birds (with a few new blog friends).

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a conservation charity that saves wetlands, which are essential for life itself. Wetlands are the primary source of drinking water for people and wildlife. They also connect us with nature, and with ourselves, through beautiful landscapes and inspiring encounters with wildlife.

Barnes' 42 hectare site is a wildlife oasis among London’s suburbia. As the planes fade away towards Heathrow, listen for the wind through the rushes that are homes for nationally important populations of gadwall and grebes. Also listen for the boom of the regular bittern visitors. It’s one of the southeast’s top locations for bats, marsh frogs and moths.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Peter Scott was the son of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott who, in his dying letter, urged Peter’s mother to “make the boy interested in natural history”. Peter particularly loved the wild open marshes of Britain and the mysterious geese that visited from unknown shores. He started as a wildfowler but learned to protect first the birds, and then their wetland habitats. In 1946 he set up the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge as a centre for science and conservation. Uniquely at the time, he opened it to the public so that anyone could enjoy getting close to nature.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre
Our naughty sub-guide for the day... I'm really not sure she's meant to be there!

We also had an alternative reason for being there: to try out the cameras on Samsung S5 smartphones and push them to their blogging limits. I have a guilty blogging secret to fess up to - I don't own a camera, no DSLR, not even a point-and-shoot. Having lost it in Orlando airport last year, I blogged with my Samsung S2 for nearly a year, before upgrading to the S4 this year. Mr Kiwi has an S5 and loves it. I try and get my sticky mitts on his phone as often as I can...

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Escorted along the paths by Phil, volunteering in the center for c.16 years was an eye opener. He treated us to so many fascinating facts about the ecosystem, the carefully looked after plethora of wildfowl, animal inhabitants and incredible conservation work being carried out to save at risk and endangered animal species.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre


We mostly listened in awe at his passion, cooed over the ducks and photographed anything that moved. If pushed to pick just one, my favorite photo of the day has to be this one, staring through the lens of Phil's telescope at a rather amused looking frog. You have to have a super steady hand to do this, but the results can be amazing.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

...or perhaps this one, a wee insect no more than an inch long in body, just minding his own business, sunning himself.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

We snuck into one of the many hides, quietly giggling at silly jokes about 'twitching tweeters' and enjoyed the views over the reclaimed marshland. I personally can't sit still for more than about 30 seconds, so take my hat off to the bird-fascinated enthusiasts who sit for hours just to catch sight of a rare bird, also aiming for beautiful images of these wild creatures, none of whom like to pose.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Arriving back near the entrance to the centre just in time, we watched the local family of otters inhale their afternoon feed. Those guys are divine, but can move like furry little sharks; on land and sea.

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre

I already want to return, having only seen a teeny taste (though we were there for nearly 3 hours - I can see how a visit could easily take the entire day). Just down the road (for the music enthusiasts of course) is the Marc Bolan memorial shrine - infamous for his tunes "Get It On" and "Ride a White Swan" (!) - set up by mourning 70's pop music fans, at the base of the tree where he sadly met his James Dean-esque demise in the prime of his life 37 years ago.

Marc Bolan memorial shrine - infamous for his tunes "Get It On" and "Ride a White Swan"

The Barnes Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre are a charity body making a real difference to the local and international wildfowl populations, whilst displaying their inhabitants with a lovely humourous flare.

Have you been yet or is it lurking on that London to-do list?

10 comments :

  1. Awesome photos on the phone Emma! I have to admit there is a true talent to smartphone photography! Was a lovely day out!

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  2. You managed to get tickets to Kill a Mockingbird!! I tried for ages to get tickets, well done! And gorgeous photos, what a fun day out.

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  3. It looks awesome! This will definitely make it onto my list of future day trips. x

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  4. You're right about the bucket list never ending. didn't even know about this place!!

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  5. It's very cute, one for a lazy weekend in nature!

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  6. It is awesome - one for shutterbugs that's for certain!

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  7. It was all Ngaire's quick work! They are doing a theatre this year - I highly recommend it!

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  8. It was so sweet - this is definitely my conflict about getting a 'proper' camera...

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  9. This is so close to me and I've never been! I love the photos you captured...and...ummmm....is that a snake you're holding? Brave girl, you are.

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