Trip reports

Visit to WWT London Wetland Centre

Visit to WWT London Wetland Centre
Ring-necked parakeet at London Wetland Centre (Photo: Steve McAusland)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

This month's visit was to the London Wildlife and Wetlands Trust situated almost in central London. We started our coach journey at 7am and the route took us down through the Chilterns and as it was getting lighter there were plenty of opportunities to spot red kites. As we arrived at the Trust car park, we were greeted by a volunteer and then made our way past the statue of Sir Peter Scott and into reception. Interestingly the site was created from four redundant Thames reservoirs right next to the Thames and makes a superb habitat for birds in a very densely populated area in London.

Once inside the first birds of note were ring-necked parakeets, pretty to look at, however now that the species has grown to high numbers (Approx. 30,000) within the London area, they are now often referred to as pests as they roost in very high numbers!

Having read the recent sightings report before the trip, my two birding buddies and I agreed to make our way to hopefully see a reported jack snipe. Climbing to the top of the Peacock Tower gave good views across the pools and following helpful assistance from fellow visitors we soon had it in our scopes hiding within the Grazing Marsh. It was viewed alongside a few common snipe which clearly made the size difference apparent and provided a really good tick for the year list!

Taking in all six hides resulted in a good days birding of wild birds. The following birds were all seen, Bewick's Swan, (wild according to the locals) blackbird, black- headed gull, Canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, common gull, common snipe, coot, cormorant, dunnock, Egyptian goose, (again wild according to locals) feral pigeon, gadwall, goldfinch, great-crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, herring gull, house sparrow, jack snipe, jackdaw, kingfisher, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pintail, pochard, robin, shoveler, sparrowhawk, starling, teal, tufted duck, water rail, wigeon, woodpigeon and wren.

Also seen were the captive birds like smew, goldeneye, bufflehead, white-winged goose and black swan.

There were also a family of four Asian short-clawed otters in a confined area which seemed to enjoy being the centre of attraction. Not as large as our indigenous otters, however great mammals that form part of the Trust's collection.

Steve McAusland