London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London

Online Only Events

The LNHS has suspended its indoor and outdoor events to follow the guidance of the UK Government which has introduced social distancing measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). We will continue to monitor the situation and LNHS events will resume when this is compatible with the advice issued by the UK Government. We will publicise resumption of events using the LNHS social media channels (including email groups). Your patience is appreciated and we hope everyone will stay safe. A full statement can be found in the News section.

The Library will also remain closed until the Natural History Museum re-opens.

In the meantime, please check out our new Virtual Natural History Talk series.






There are some fantastic places for wildlife in the London area. More than 40% of London is green space or open water. As many as 2000 species of flowering plant have been found growing in the LNHS area. The tidal Thames supports 120 species of fish. Over 60 species of bird nest in central London. LNHS members have recorded 47 species of butterfly, 1173 moths and more than 270 kinds of spider around London. London's wetland areas support nationally important populations of many water birds. London has 38 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), two National Nature Reserves and 76 Local Nature Reserves.




The LNHS offers a superb learning experience, through our expert led walks, our evening talks, publications and well stocked library. We share a common love of London's natural world, a desire to learn more about it, and share our expertise. To this end we also offer online resources, like school packs for the classroom, articles of general and particular interest, and online media.




London's biodiversity faces new challenges from climate change and development pressure. You can contribute to the conservation of wildlife in the London area by helping to record the changing fortunes of the many species that live here. Together with our historic records, this information will help us to tackle the conservation issues of the future. Join us, learn new skills, and help us to make a difference.

The London Wetland Centre (also called Barnes WWT) was created from the former Barn Elms reservoirs and provides over 40 acres of prime birding habitat in the centre of London. The site offers a range of habitats including open water, muddy banks, reedbed, grazing marsh and light woodland. Birding is good value all year with the following highlights:

Winter: Bittern have been regular since 2001, 1-2 Jack Snipe over-winter, higher numbers of Snipe are present but counts have declined from the regular highs of 50+ in 2001 and 2002, the Lapwing flock used to reach over a hundred birds but now usually peaks at a little over 50, good numbers of duck including Wigeon, Teal and nationally important numbers of Gadwall and Shoveler. Water Rails are present and are easily heard and seen daily. Stonechat used to be regular wintering birds but have recently (since 2012) become more erratic. Cetti's warblers were once only winter visitors but since 2010 have been resident breeders.

Spring & Summer: Breeding birds include Great Crested (4+ prs) and Little (8-10prs) Grebe, Mute Swan (3+ prs), Greylag, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Common Tern (up to 10 pairs in 2007), Sand Martin (40-50 prs), Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler (in some years), Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and Cetti's Warbler. Rarer breeders have included Marsh Warbler (in 2000) and Avocets (failed attempts in 2006 and 2008). Cetti's Warbler has colonised the site as a regular breeder with at least seven singing males in 2013. Some commoner species have also become regular breeders including Collared Dove, Coal Tit and Goldcrest. Other species breed locally and are often seen on site including: Sparrowhawk (which also bred on site in 2013), Hobby, Peregrine and Stock Dove.

Spring passage usually includes: large raptors such as Buzzard, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Osprey; terns; and waders such as Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Easterly winds and morning rain in May can produce scarcer waders (e.g. Grey Plover, Sanderling and Turnstone). April and May usually provide large gull numbers at high tide, with occasional Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull among the Herring, Lesser Blacked-backeds and Great Blacked-backeds. Passerine migrants include Water and Scandinavian Rock Pipits, White Wagtails, Wheaters (including Greenland race), Whinchats, various warblers and sometimes Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Firecrest and Spotted Flycatcher.

Autumn: Passage starts in late June/ early July when early Green Sandpipers start to move through. Autumn passage migrants usually include Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plovers and Little Egret. Wood Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Ruff and other waders are less frequent visitors. Numbers of ducks (Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler) start to build up in late July or August, as do the numbers of Lapwing with post-breeders augmenting the resident birds. The first wintering Snipe appear from August. Garganey are regular with several birds often passing through each autumn. Late autumn (October-November) produces good visible migration, especially of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, thrushes and finches.

The site regularly turns up excellent birds at a London and, occasionally, national level. Unfortunately these are often flyovers (e.g. White Stork, two Black Kites, Honey Buzzard, Hen & Montagu's Harriers, Common Crane, Arctic, Great & Pomarine Skuas, Leach's Petrel and Alpine Swift) or spend very little time on site (Great White and Cattle Egrets, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Corncrake, Stone Curlew, Pacific Golden Plover, Temminck's Stint, White-winged Black Tern, Caspian, Glaucous & Iceland Gulls, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes). Some birds hang around for longer (e.g. Night Heron, White-spotted Bluethroat, Siberian Chiffchaff, Marsh and Yellow-browed Warblers).

Access and Location

Directions to the reserve can be found here and a map here. The reserve's address is: Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT.


The Centre is well-equipped with a large visitor's centre, a café, a shop, toilets, a heated hide overlooking the main lake and even, well-marked paths. The tarmac car park is spacious with disabled spaces near the entrance. Bus 283 runs to the centre from Hammersmith London Underground station which is located on the Piccadilly, District, and Hammersmith & City lines. For up to date information visit the Centre's website here.

Opening times and admission

Summer opening time - from 1 March until October 31

9.30am to 5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm).

Winter opening time - from 1 November until February 28 (or 29 when relevant)

9.30am to 4.30pm (last admission 3.30pm).

As usual, we will begin to close the routes, hides and Explore 1/2hr before closing time.

Early closing on 24 December (last admission 2pm, centre closes at 3pm). Closed on 25 December.
The summer route is closed during the winter.

Water's Edge Café

Last orders 4.00pm in winter and 5.00pm in summer
Closes 4.30pm in winter and 5.30pm in summer

The reserve closes early on Christmas Eve (24th December) with last admissions at 2.00pm. The reserve is closed Christmas Day (25th December), otherwise the opening times are as normal throughout the Christmas and New Year period, including 1st January. In the summer the reserve formerly open late on Thursday evenings, but this no longer happens.

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