Winter wetland wildlife encounters
HOLIDAY & ENTERTAINING | October 1, 2019

Winter wetland wildlife encounters

Visit a water vole! 

Greet a great crested grebe! 

Hang out with an otter! 

British wetlands might be quieter during the winter months, when many of the usual inhabitants go into hibernation or migrate to warmer places, but there’s still more than enough wildlife watching to make a trip out worthwhile. 


Why are wetlands so important?  

Wetlands – low-lying marshes and swampy areas – are a unique habitat for wildlife, offering a lifeline to migratory birds and playing host to many of our rarest plants and animals. 

But that’s not all...

Wetland reedbeds act as giant filter systems. As water trickles through the thatch of leaf and root, micro-organisms living in the reeds feed off pollutants. Result? Cleaner water downstream. 

But that’s not all...

During rainstorms, wetlands can stop catastrophic flash-flooding by absorbing heavy rain. 

But that’s not all…

Coastal wetlands help ‘knit together’ the shoreline, protecting vulnerable landscapes from erosion. 

But that’s not all…


...wetlands are wonderful places to reconnect with nature

Aerial view of London Wetland Centre

London Wetlands Centre

Nestled in the heart of West London, this wildlife haven was the world’s first man-made urban wetland reserve. Created from four redundant reservoirs, the reserve’s rangers have recorded visits from more than 200 bird species since opening in 2000. 

What to look for: wintering teal, wigeon, gadwell and shoveler ducks; lurking bitterns; squealing water rails; more species of bat than any other site in London; a delightful pair of Asian short-clawed otters.  

Public transport: Trains to Barnes or Barnes Bridge; tube to Hammersmith; buses to Hammersmith bus station. 

LWT was the world's first man-made urban wetland reserve


Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands

Opened to the public less than two years ago by London Wildlife Trust, the ten reservoirs of the Walthamstow Wetlands nature reserve provide drinking water for much of East London along with habitat for countless migratory birds. The Victorian-era Engine House pumping station and Grade-II listed Coppermill have been preserved as relics of the site’s industrial history. 

What to look for: the heronry on the wooded islands of number 1 reservoir; the cormorants on number 5 reservoir; linnets and reed buntings in the number 1 reed bed; the Peregrines menacing the Wetlands’ residents from their favourite pylons. 

Public transport: Trains or tube to Blackhorse Road or Tottenham Hale; bus services 123 and 230 to the Ferry Boat Inn stop. 

The site also preserves relics of a Victorian-era industrial history


Dorney Wetlands

Jubilee River and Dorney Wetlands

The Jubilee River is a six-mile stretch of flood relief channel, constructed around the turn of the century to funnel Thames floodwaters safely away from the towns of Windsor and Maidenhead. At the area known as Dorney Wetlands, varied habitats for wildlife have been created with abundant reedbeds, ‘wader scrapes’ (shallow ponds) and secluded islands. 

What to look for: great crested grebe and little grebe; thousands of golden plover; water voles; kestrels, buzzards and red kites; flocks of lapwings.  

Public transport: Bus services 15, 63 or 68 to the Palmer Arms Pub stop. 

Visit abundant reedbeds, ‘wader scrapes’ (shallow ponds) and secluded islands


Have you had any exciting British wildlife encounters? Share your favourite wetland walks and wildlife sightings with Greenredeem at Facebook or on Twitter


>> De-stress with a little practical conservation

>> Meet British wildlife on a coastal safari

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