Tuesday 26th April – 16th meeting of 2016
We met at Waterloo and caught the train to Barnes Bridge Station where we got off and admired the view of the railway bridge and river Thames as seen many times on the television for the annual Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race. We walked along the High Street with its many shops looking for a coffee shop of which there were several but all unfortunately full. A sign was spotted for the Wetlands Centre but the two and half miles seemed a bit too far for some, although a few had walked it before on a previous walk to Fulham. We decided to get the bus and although it didn’t go past the Centre it dropped us off a lot closer!!
The Centre was until the 1990’s a disused Victorian reservoir and it was opened in 2000 by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and covers 105 acres of lakes, ponds and marshes. It is possible to walk around the Centre as there are over two miles of paths and the area is laid out in several different areas with various towers and hides to aid viewing.
We decided to join the tour but by the time we had paid and the lady at the desk had confused us all with our vouchers and payment, a large group of ladies were already gathered at the Courtyard Map which was the starting point and unfortunately the lady giving the tour was very softly spoken, which made it impossible to hear. So we left the tour and made our own way around the West Route and at the first pond we were amazed to see a little nest sticking up from the ground containing two moorhens and little ones sticking their head out from underneath which was within touching distance of the paths – a good start.
It was a very cold day and although bright to start with a storm threatened and there was thunder but luckily we escaped the rain. It really was a morning of four seasons as later on we had a flurry of snow flakes coming down on us!! This is so topical of English weather!!
Walking round we saw lots of ducks – tufted, mallards, teal, mandarin etc. and also cranes, herons, tern to name but a few. We weren’t able to see the otters who having already been fed – had decided to hide away!
We went into the hides in the various lakes and went up the Peacock Tower for an overview of the lakes of the South Route but the sand martines and kingfishers alluded us and as it was so cold we went, into the cafe, for a hot drink after a couple of hours walkabout.
Our spotting didn’t stop there as sitting behind us was a ‘production crew’ and the television present and newsreader Trevor MacDonald was deep in conversation with his group, so we will keep an eye out for a future programme. We were very pleased with this as it is a very long time since we have spotted a Celebrity!!!!
It was a good visit but The Wetlands Centre is probably best viewed at different times of the year as lots of ducks etc. were nesting and hiding away on our visit and another time of the year other species will have flown in and be on view. Also buzzards, kestrals, hobbies visit along with many gulls, bittern and cormorants which take advantage of the site so there will always be different birds to see and also grasses and wildflowers.
We caught the bus back to the station and got trains back to Waterloo after a long cold but enjoyable morning.