Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wild wetlands

I've been wanting to go to the London Wetland Centre for years. It looked like fun. A little wildlife reserve right in the middle of London. We could see the birds and the water plants and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, we never managed to go. Until Monday. You see, I finally feel like getting out a little bit and we wanted to do something different. Something we could take a baby to. A baby who does not sleep much in the day. A baby who does not suffer from a weak cry. So a nice outdoor activity seemed good.

Except, apparently, a lot of what makes the wetland centre so fun is its interpretive exhibits. Exhibits that are pretty much all inside. And an adventure playground that we're too big for and Cletus is too little for.

So we walked around the vast acreage - but the only thing was that path space was actually quite limited - and you're only allowed to walk around maybe two-thirds of the perimeter and none of the wetland area - which is all blocked off from both foot traffic and they eyeline of anyone shorter than 12 feet - to respect the bird's privacy or something.

Of course, there are hides from which to watch the birds. And on the outside of each hide there's a sign saying

Quiet. Birds have ears.


Really? I've never seen a bird ear. Have you?

But Cletus can't read yet and he did scream every time we entered an indoor area. So we couldn't really see any birds except the ones on the main paths. But those were just regular old birds - birds that I could see in just about any old London park.

And we paid big bucks for the privilege. I wanted to tell those shy birds behind the hedges: "Hey, this is London. Nobody but Russian oligarchs get everything they want in terms of real estate. If you can't stand sharing your space, why don't you bugger off to the country?"

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Some people did seem to be enjoying the centre, though. But these visitors fell into two narrow categories:

  • Mums with children between 3 and 8
  • Slightly creepy looking men, on their own, carrying cameras with giant lenses

And I couldn't help but wonder how the park managed to sort out the bird watchers from the pedophiles.

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Some photos I took:

Thatched roof at London Wetland Centre

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And this frog which was sitting in the drainage ditch outside the centre. The Vol-in-Law, whose one word review of the centre was not glowing, said he enjoyed the frog the best.

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7 comments:

Furrow said...

What's the weather like there? I'm imagining a comfortable mid-70s. It's an inhuman 100+ here today. How British is that? Asking about the weather... I told you I'm an Anglophile.

Looks like a nice outing, despite the annoyances.

kathyF said...

What the hell kind of bird is that?

Vol Abroad said...

On Monday when we went it was warmer than that - maybe in the lower 80s. Warm enough for me to wear shorts! I still wear zipper sweatshirt in the mid 70s - what with the windchill factor.

Kathy - I call those "standy up ducks" - don't know what they are officially. If I ever raised ducks, I'd get me some standy up ones. These were snapped in the kiddy-feed-the-ducks area, the only one in the whole place.

Tim said...

Great photos. Ok, now I'm picturing a bird with ears like the guy on the front of MAD magazine. :D

KathyF said...

Ah, yes, Standy Up Ducks. Of course.

Maybe now would be a good time to read The Story of Ping to Cletus.

Monique said...

That is REALLY interesting to read - we live just down the road from the wetland centre in Putney and have been meaning to go there for AGES.... we were even talking about going this weekend. Granted my husband is one of those large lense guys - but not alone & creepy ha ha:) Hmmm I'm second guessing it now though - I didn't know you were only allowed to walk around outside in such a small space! :(

Vol Abroad said...

Yeah, it's only a 12 minute walk from the main visitor centre to the farthest point. Still, if you want to go and sit in a hide and take pictures....