Interview: The London Wetland Centre

The London Wetland Centre is an award-winning nature reserve in Barnes managed by The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). We caught up with Catherine Starling to discuss its wildlife, conservation and filmmaking.

Water lilies 2 by I Green

What wildlife might the public encounter?

Our lakes, pools and gardens are home to nesting kingfishers, sand martins, foraging birds and, in the spring, ducklings waddling after their mother. In May and June you can hear the loud cackling of our ever-popular marsh frogs. For keen bird-watchers, there are bitterns in the winter and yellow wagtails on the grazing marsh in summer. If you are patient, you can see frogs and lizards basking in the sunshine or watch dragonflies and butterflies fluttering over the wildflower meadows and you might also spot a water vole or two aka Ratty from Wind in the Willows!

Sounds like a great place for photographers!

Yes, a must-see are the views over the main lake from the Observatory, with a panorama of the London skyline as a back-drop! Also, there are six hides that are perfect for watching wildlife and photography.


What activities are there for children?

In Explore, the outdoors adventure playground, they can swoop down the zip wires, traverse the climbing wall, play in the giant water vole tunnels and get soaking wet in the water games! The Discovery Centre is indoors and takes you on a journey through the wetlands of the world, from peat bogs to coral reeks. Children can play a series of interactive games with water while discovering how important water is to people and wildlife. Pond Zone is our high-tech version of a village pond. They can operate the underwater camera to see up-close what’s living in the pool, play with the ‘dragonflies’ or creation their own perfect digital pond. We run activities each weekend and during the school holidays to keep them amused and inspire them about the wildlife around them.

What is the ethos behind the WWT?

The WWT is a conservation charity that protects wetlands whilst enabling a reengagement with wilderness. It is one of the world’s leading science and conservation institutions in its field; we rescue endangered species from the edge of extinction, prevent damage to wetlands, and protect, repair and create new wetlands for people and wildlife. We work with communities, businesses and governments to help people live sustainably alongside wetlands, benefiting from the water, food, materials, shelter and livelihoods a well-managed wetland can provide.

Family pond dipping by Stephen Morris

What is the best way to support the work done?

Coming along to visit to discover more about the wonder of wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them is the best way. It’s also a fun day out! Hopefully you’ll go away with a better understanding of wetlands are and be inspired to help more, by telling your friends or family or even becoming a member of WWT.

What events coming up are you most excited about?

We have lots of events throughout the year for all our visitors, from bird watching walks with a warden, our Dinosaur Days event in October and Santa in December, to photography days and Dawn Chorus. There really is something for everyone throughout the year.



How did you get involved with the Barnes Film Festival?

We were approached by BFF to see if we would be a venue and were very happy to help out, especially as we’ve got a fabulous refurbished functions venue launching at that time, so the film festival is the perfect show case for it, especially with the festival’s ‘green’ theme.

And what is your favourite film with a green theme?

Hmmm, not one specific film but just about anything with David Attenborough presenting! He manages to show people the wonders of the planet but also brings current issues to their attention meaning that people are becoming more aware of the problems the world is facing and that we can all do our bit to help, however small.


To plan your visit to the London Wetland centre, please visit:

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