Friday, 22 June 2018

My London Adventure (Part 1)

WWT London Wetland Centre
This week, I've been on holiday. Three days in London (and two days in Hadleigh to celebrate my niece's 2nd birthday). After spending most of the morning of the first day travelling from Norwich, we spent the rest of the day at the London Wetland Centre. Like most WWT (Wildfowl and Wetland Trust) sites, it is part nature reserve and part wildfowl zoo, but mostly nature reserve with 6 hides viewing a set of lakes and scrapes. The fact that there's this wild place in the heart of a busy is quite surreal as if it has been here for a very long time. However, if you were to travel back in time to 30+ years ago, this place did not exist. The land that this reserve now settles on was once a place for industrial purposes. How much has changed after the WWT bought this piece of land is rather remarkable and inspirational. If it wasn't for the cityscape poking from the horizon and the air traffic coming to and fro from Heathrow airport, you wouldn't know that this was still London.
Statue of Sir Peter Scott
A wild wonderland in the heart of London
Otter (one of the captive ones)
White-headed Duck (as part of the collection)
Sand Martin at the artificial nest cliff 
As well as the captive wildfowl from around the world that was on display, there was also a surprising amount of wildlife to see here, too. There were lapwings, reed buntings, common lizards, calling Cetti's warblers, common terns, tufted ducks, gadwall, mallards, lesser black-backed gulls, grey herons (lots of grey herons), swifts and great displays of wildflowers, including a large number of pyramidal orchids and southern marsh orchids (which were taller than I've ever seen from this species before). The real centre piece, though, was the artificial sand martin nest cliff, which was the first of its kind. This man-made cliff has been attracting sand martins for years now. Each hole in the cliff leads to a nest box for them to breed in and it is clearly very successful as I watched the sand martins fly in and out of them every minute or two.
Grey Heron
Carrion Crow
Tufted Duck with ducklings
Tufted Ducks
Pochard with ducklings
Mute Swan with cygnet
Common Terns
Reed Bunting
Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Common Lizard
Purple Loosestrife

Southern Marsh Orchids

Pyramidal Orchid
Flowering Rush?
Black-tailed Skimmer
Ring-necked Parakeet
While it was impressive to see all of this in the heart of this capital city, there was one wild bird that seemed out of place. Ring-necked parakeets are a bit of a 'marmite species'. You either like them or you hate them. This exotic alien originally from India can be found all over London these days. The ones found here all originate from escaped birds about half a centaury ago and have since made their home across parts of southern England and are continuing to spread to other parts of the country. Their destructive nature and consistent squawking has divided many people. For me, well, they certainly fit London's multicultural image and I couldn't resist a few photos of these beautiful, yet noisy green parrots. Though, I'm not sure if I would want to see them on a daily basis over in Norwich any time soon.

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