Photo Opportunities -  Number 2

The Wetland Centre, Barnes. 

Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, London.  Tel: 020 8409 4400

Opened only this May, the Wetlands centre has been worked on and landscaped for the last five years.  The site is only 4 miles from the centre of London and is easily accessible by public transport.  The centre's intention is to provide shelter and a breeding place for some of Britain's threatened waterfowl species.


The centre covers 105 acres and has been landscaped into a variety of habitats called World Wetlands.  Several are quite remarkable in themselves and very photogenic!  The New Zealand and Iceland displays are very impressive but the main interest to landscape photographers will be the Wild lands part of the site.  By far the biggest part of the site and absolutely wonderful!  The Wild lands area is planted with reeds, bull-rushes and many, many wild flowers.  Though I visited the centre in mid-July there were hundreds of wildflowers in bloom and giving a vivid and colourful display.

As well as the flowers there are many lakes and lagoons of varying sizes scattered across the area.  Each home to an astonishing quantity of birds!  The reed beds and the curve of the lake edges give many a composition opportunity as different viewpoints are seen.  The place could have been laid out with photographers in mind as it is more than possible to visualise and take fantastic photos!

Apart from the landscape possibilities there is the fact that the centre happens to be filled with wild birds!  If wildlife photography is your thing then this will suit you to the ground.  The air was filled with Swifts and Swallows skimming the surface of the lakes and swooping to catch air-borne insects.  Reed and Sedge Warblers are already breeding on the site and dragonflies are common!  Lapwings and Little Ringed Plovers can be seen as well as Moorhens, Coots, Reed Buntings, Mute Swans and many more.  Many of the species in the themed area are rare, such as the New Zealand Blue Duck, and well worth photographing.  In other places Curlews, Dunnings, Oyster Catchers and other wading birds abound.  I was fortunate enough to see the mating ritual of a pair of Crested Grebes as they did their amazing ballet display on water, sadly to far away for my camera equipment.

This centre will be a huge attraction but it's well worth visiting and supporting, the sheer pleasure I felt in wandering the paths and seeing the wildlife, as well as how well the landscaping worked, was extraordinary.  It's beautiful!  It work's!  So get out there and photograph it!

Brian Sharland

Credits:  Aerial photo courtesy of WWT. Ducks by Theo Martin-Castex

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If you have any events or exhibitions planned be sure to tell us.  It would be nice to have the details before the end of each month. Either - e-mail   - send a fax on 020 8673 1633 - post to 134 Rectory Lane, London, SW17 9PX


April 2014
Sophie Martin-Castex


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