Keen followers of the One Hundred Things project will have seen this morning’s tweet about my plans for the day. A trip to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s site in Barnes, the London Wetland Centre (T26), and a gallop around the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (T28).
Because the weather was reasonable and I’m from Yorkshire (ie. tight), the bike was today’s method of transport. And, because it’s closer, the London Wetland Centre was the first port of call. Arriving by bicycle, first impressions are super – they’ve got a couple of rows of cages in which to put your bike, along with a shelf for helmet, bags and other cycling paraphernalia. Then you just use your bike lock on the cage door. Brilliant stuff.
To business: it’ll cost you £9.95 to get in with an additional £2.50 for a 20-odd page guide. Knowing pretty much naff-all about mammals, birds, plants and insects, the pamphlet became a wise investment. The site is big (over 100 acres) and human access is pretty much limited to two of the edges. From the main visitors’ centre, you can go one of two ways: the first option is to an actively-managed area with fourteen zones, each with creatures from particular environments and parts of the world. The second route is rather more organic, with a number of hides allowing different views of the wetlands.
I decided to sit around in hides. Even with a reasonably long zoom lens on my camera, I was beginning to regret not shelling out a fiver to hire a pair of binoculars. Ho hum. It was pleasant enough, but perhaps I wasn’t best equipped (or of the necessary disposition) to be entertained for too long. Fortunately, there’s also some more child-orientated attractions. Two of my favourites: a television microscope to put something under (I chose my little finger; my cuticles are wrecked, I tell you) and a remote controlled underwater camera. Although, true to form, I didn’t manage to spot anything.
Lunchtime. (A couple of ham, cheese and tomato sub rolls with a banana and an orange, if you must know.)
Each day, a there’s a couple of guided walks (11am and 2pm) around one half of the site. After not having had much luck on my own, I decided to team up with three hardy souls from Ilford to bask in the company of WWT guide Andrea. (At least, I’m pretty sure it’s Andrea. But it might be Anthea. Apologies, Anthea, if it is.) The fourteen managed habitats are a lot more open to visitors than the rest of the site. As the birds in this area are born and bred on the site, they’re a lot more accepting of human interaction than those elsewhere — so it’s possible to get really rather close.
Over the course of an hour and a half, Anthea imparted a decent wack of knowledge as she guided us around the place. If you’re an amateur like me, I’d wholly recommend it.
Anyway. That’s a very nice story, isn’t it? But there was a challenge to this, wasn’t there? I had to take a decent wildlife snap. With nothing but my trusty Canon and the threat of failure hanging high above me, off I went. My efforts are over on Flickr. Here’s a few of my favourites:
So, a nice few hours at the London Wetland Centre. Now, a quick word on Thing 28:
The Museum of Brands, Design and Advertising is in a difficult-to-find mews in Notting Hill. There’s also no bike parking nearby. So, by the time I’d found the place, then gone away to find somewhere to put my bike, it wasn’t really worth paying the £5.80 to go around. Another day…