WWT London Wetland Centre – Part 2 – Captive birds and otters

This will be my third and final post on the WWT London Wetland Centre, and will briefly share a couple of images of the animals in their stock ponds. If you haven’t seen the Shrike post, or the wild animals post, you should check them out too.

The WWT are very good at running breeding programmes for various species, and this has the benefit of allowing you to get some really good photos of various species. I didn’t take that many pics this time as I was running out of space on the card, and was saving space for the wild section of the reserve. But here are a few favourites.

They have three Asian Short-Clawed Otters (Aonyx cinerea) in a good-sized enclosure:

SONY DSC SONY DSC

I’ll be honest, I’m not a great fan of captive otters. I think despite all best efforts to keep them ‘wild’, they get needy and attached to their keepers. The staff here were making great efforts to make the otters work for their food, but ultimately the otters still knew then fish and crab meat was coming out of the bucket. But, if this sort of thing encourages people to get involved and drives money to conservation, it’s not a bad thing.

There were some beautiful wildfowl in the stocked ponds. I love Teal, and these Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota) were exquisite:

SONY DSC SONY DSCThe steely blue-grey bill, the green primaries, the black cap, and the buffy tone all make for a lovely duck.

There were also some examples of birds you can see wild in the UK, including Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula):

SONY DSCAnd Smew (Mergus albellus):

SONY DSC SONY DSCThe male is the striking black-and-white bird, and the female grey with a rusty orange-brown head.

There were also Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). I didn’t take pictures of the male, but I love this female with her Bride-of-Frankenstein hairdo:

SONY DSC SONY DSC

That’s it for this brief post. Conserving photos meant I ignored other favourites of mine such as Hawaiian Goose, Red-Breasted Goose, Barnacle Goose, and others. The stock section with ducks and geese of the world makes it a brilliant place to take families, as you have guaranteed birds without that patience and quiet necessary to see wild birds.

Overall I cannot recommend the centre enough. It has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere, great wild species, great captive species, and the chance of something unusual. We got there thanks to a short, cheap bus ride from Shepherd’s Bush, so it’s incredibly convenient to visit. It’d be ideal for someone starting out, or someone a little more practiced. The WWT deserve great credit.

Tomorrow I’ll start into the Scotland posts. I’ll do a daily update (tomorrow may be limited as it’ll mainly be taken up driving to Onich), then when I get back and upload my photos I’ll do a few illustrated posts. I’m looking forward to it immensely, now I just have to get packed!

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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