London Wetland Centre

From Londonbirders



The London Wetland Centre (also called Barnes WWT) was created from the former Barnes Elms reservoirs and provides over 40ha of prime birding habitat in the centre of London. The site offers a range of habitats including open water, muddy banks, reedbed, grazing marsh and light woodland. Birding is good value all year with the following highlights:

Winter: Bittern have been regular since 2001, 1-2 Jack Snipe over-winter, higher numbers of Snipe but numbers in 2006/7 (up to around a half a dozen) were a lot lower than highs of 50+ in 2001 and 2002, the Lapwing flock rises to over 100 birds, good numbers of duck including nationally important numbers of Gadwall and Shoveler. Small numbers of Stonechat winter.

Spring & Summer: breeding birds include GC (4+ prs) and Little (8-10prs) Grebe, Mute Swan (3+ prs), Greylag, Canada Goose, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Redshank, LRP, Lapwing, Common Tern (up to 10 pairs in 2007), Sand Martin (40-50 prs), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting. In 2006 Avocets hatched 4 chicks, although unfortunately none survived. Other species breed locally and are often seen on site including: Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Peregrine. Collared Dove have recently (in 2007) started to breed on the edge of the site as have Jackdaw (presumably from the population to the South around Roehampton Lane). Spring passage usually includes: Common Sandpiper but heavy morning rain in May can produce decent waders (e.g. Dunlin, Turnstone and Ringed Plover). April and May usually provide large gull numbers at high tide, with occasional Yellow-legged among the Herring, LBBs and GBBs.

Autumn: passage starts in late June/ early July as early Green Sandpipers start to move through. Other early autumn passage includes Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, LRPs, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit. Numbers of ducks (Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler) start to build up in late July or August, as do the numbers of Lapwing with post-breeders augmenting the resident birds. The first winter Snipe appear from August. Garganey can be a good bet (autumn 2006 produced 2-3 birds). Later autumn (October-November) produces good viz mig, especially of skylarks, mipits and finches.

The site regularly turns up excellent birds for London, and occasionally nationally. Unfortunately these are often flyovers (e.g. White Stork, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier) or spend very little time on site (Spoonbill, Little Tern). Some birds hang around for longer (e.g. Ring Ouzel in 2006).

Despite the quality birds, birding Barnes can be very frustrating. It's very well watched so that anything that does turn up is likely to get seen. But, as mentioned above, most of the good birds either fly over the site as fast as they can, or land briefly before being disturbed and head for somewhere quieter. This means that a lot of birds get seen before the reserve opens to public so that, by the time plebs like me turn up, they've already done a runner.

Some background information from the WWT can be found here WWTBackground.


Directions to the reserve can be found here WWTBackground and a map here :[1]. The reserve address is: Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT

London Wetland Centre opening times Winter 9.30am to 5.00pm (last admission 4pm) Summer 9.30am to 6.00pm (last admission 5pm)

In the summer the reserve opens late on Thursday evenings. For example in 2006 late night opening ran from 25 May to 21 September. Half price admission from 6pm, last entry 8pm. WWT members can bring two guests for free on these evenings. One day a week late opening is useful, but it would be even better to extend this to several days a week.

Christmas opening times Early Closing on 24th December (last admissions 2pm). Closed 25th Dec only, otherwise centre open as normal throughout the Christmas and New Year period including 1st January.

Admission Prices from April 1st 2006 Adult £7.25. Concessions (Senior Citizens, students, unemployed, people with disabilities) £6.00, Child £4.50, Family Ticket £18.50. Group Admission Prices available upon request. Admission free to WWT members. Membership prices vary (eg £30pa for one adult) more details from [2].

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