Frozen scrape with plants stems

I always pop into the WWT London Wetlands Centre when I am in London. I find that the hides here are better positioned than most WWT centres or other reserves. They seem to be positioned lower down, closer to the water level and closer to the water in general. Also the sun position is very good with most of them. I have been a member of WWT for quite a while now, and feel that they are missing a trick with bird and nature photographers. If they had specific photographic hides or especially in summer, earlier entry times, I am sure that they would be able to market this to their advantage. I know that may photographers would be willing to pay extra, either through an enhanced membership fee or for individual usage of hides etc. Unfortunately WWT is caught in the usual trap of lack of resources which results in a slight split personality in their centres. With the introduction of cycle hire and canoe and vehicle safaris, the centres are more of a theme park designed to interest the public to become interested in the plight of nature. Before they seemed to be more of a nature reserve to provide a haven for the wildlife and birds that visited the area. I think both situations can work, but need to be carefully planned. From my biased photographic point of view it is frustrating when some of the best places for photography are? no longer an option because the hide has been removed to provide a dock for canoe safaris (Slimbridge) or the birds are disturbed by people whizzing by on bicycles (Millennium Wetlands, National Wetlands Centre Wales). The WWT centres are always worth a visit though as some of the birds are easier to approach due to them being used to seeing benign humans wandering?around.

Grey Heron, WWT London Wetlands Centre

I left a bit more space around this heron in the image above, partly because I had too with the lens I had, but also it shows a bit more of the habitat around the bird. The WWT London Wetland Centre always seems to have large numbers of? Herons when I visit, so it is possible to make quite a few different images of these birds.

Goldfinch feeding in a tree

On my way back from the scrape hide I came across a small flock of Goldfinches feeding on the trees. I decided to try and make a slightly more graphic image as my lens wasn’t powerful enough to make an individual portrait. I quite like this image and for me it has worked out better than I expected at the time.

Starling singing

When I reached the main centre and cafe area I heard the strange but beautiful warbling and clicking sounds of this Starling who was happily singing away on top of the roof.?It carried on quite happily as I took a few frames, and then continued after I left it in peace. I notice other photographers packing up their equipment to carry it around, but I learned my lesson a while ago: the only time to start packing your equipment away is when you are right next to your mode of transport so you can leave, or when it is so dark you cannot make any images even?if you wanted too! If you had packed up?your gear, would you unpack it for this image? Probably not, but sometimes simple environmental images like this tell an interesting tale of a birds life and home conditions.


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  • Catherine Walsh says:


    I am a volunteer at the WWT London Wetland Centre and came across your blog – I thought you might be interested to know that we are planning a ‘Dawn Chorus’ event on the 2nd May this year. This means the gates open at 4am, with a guided tour at 4.45am by one of the wardens, plus cooked breakfast at 7.30am. It’s necessary to book for this, and the event costs ?22 per person, but I thought it might interest you as you will be welcome to take a look around the grounds without the general public present. Please call 02084094400 if you are interested or would like more information.

    Hope that’s helpful,


  • Nick says:

    Hi Catherine,
    Thanks for the information. I don’t know if I will be down in London at that time, but I will check the diary and if free will try and make the effort to come. My local centre here in Wales does a similar thing as well, but I always seem to have another commitment that clashes with their dates!
    Thanks for checking out the blog,

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