The idea of wildlife thriving in a big city seems unlikely, but this is what the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), founded by Sir Peter Scott, has achieved at Barnes in west London. On Sat 15th 50 keen folk set out from Gravesend to visit WWT’s London Wetland Centre and experience for ourselves this amazing place. Luckily the rain held off and the weather was kind with a few sunny spells. Soon after arriving we spotted a dozing water rail, half hidden in the reeds. But our observation of this was interrupted by a short-eared owl flying overhead, mobbed by gulls as it circled high in the sky above us. Short – eared owls flying this high anywhere is unusual but in the centre of London is quite extraordinary. Once the owl had passed over we turned our binoculars and scopes back on the water rail – it was still dozing, apparently oblivious to all the excitement and noise we created watching the owl! Later on the short – eared owl was spotted amongst long grass, surrounded by about 8 crows and 4 magpies. None of them dared go too close but they kept a watchful eye on it! (Sally’s picture shows the crows and magpies but not the owl!).
None of us could find the reported jack snipe but lots of wildfowl and lapwing were on show from the tower hide, which is where many of us had lunch (me – cheese sandwich). We then hurried off to watch the captive otters have theirs – fresh trout!
The afternoon brought more birds – well done to Sally for spotting two tiny distant specks on the hospital roof amid the London skyline. The specks proved to be two peregrines! A very few found the bittern and there was just one sighting of a kingfisher. One bird species that everyone must have seen and heard were the red necked parakeets – they were everywhere!
My favourite photograph of the day (thanks Chris) was this bird. Let me know what you think it is?