The effective management of wetlands can provide alternative or complementary habitats for waterbirds and mitigate the adverse effects of wetland loss and degradation. Winter is the busiest time of year for our reserve team as they prepare the whole of site for the upcoming breeding season. Our reserve team is coppicing and pollarding with our fantastic team of volunteers. This work improves the wetlands habitat quality for the birds that choose our site for breeding. Cutting small areas of the woodland or hedgerow creates new open areas or glades, and due to the extra light level this will stimulate ground cover below. This results in other plants flourishing such as grasses and wildflowers. Within woodlands and hedgerows, butterfly caterpillars can feed on the wildflowers and grasses that have been stimulated to grow due to the coppicing and pollarding, and so the number of individuals or species of butterfly can increase. The regrowth can create a micro-climate and diversifying plant life that creates cover for a host of wildlife such as insect life. This in turn provides food for small mammals and birds. Birds such as blackbirds, robins and wrens will nest in the dense regrowth, and the older trees provide the perfect conditions for nesting. When the low vegetation starts becoming dense below the tree, this helps to attract species such common whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff - regular visitors will know these birds can often be seen during the summer months flitting around our reserve paths! Overall, the practice of wetland management requires integrated knowledge related to the wetland ecosystem and considering diverse habitat requirements for different waterbirds. In other words, many species will benefit for those improved habitats.
Wetlands provide a habitat for a huge diversity of animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else. In fact, species diversity in wetlands is so great, there are a fair few species that many people have never heard of. Here are eight examples of under-the-radar critters often found in Britain’s wetlands. Eels:Although not obvious, eels are a type of fish.Their life cycle is, what the kids would describe as, epic! Eels start their lives in the Sargasso Sea, out in the Atlantic. These baby eels (Called Leptocephali) use ocean currents to migrate 4,000 miles back to Europe. They then make their way up rivers, changing as they go to become elvers and then adult eels which spend up to 20 years in our rivers feeding and growing. Once large enough they make their final transformation into silver eels which are able to swim back out to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and start the cycle again.That complex life cycle is quite prone to threats like climate change, habitat destruction and pollution etc, so the European eel is now a critically endangered speciesGreat Raft SpiderA spider that can literally walk on water! They catch prey close to the surface and use special hairs on their legs to detect movement in the water.Very rare in the UK, they are only known at a handful of sites around the countryLeechLeeches are close relatives of earthwormsMany leeches drink blood but there are also a lot of species that hunt and swallow smaller prey, known as “Swallowing leeches.”When they suck blood they inject a chemical called hirudin into it to stop it from clotting. This chemical has been used by humans to create medicines. Leeches were also used in medieval times for treating illnesses but this was down to a belief in the power of bleeding patients to rid them of disease.Medicinal Leeches are very rare in the UK now – they would traditionally lurk in village ponds and bite the feet of horses being brought to water to drink. Since people stopped using horses for transport and village ponds have been filled in, their habitats have shrunk.Pond SkaterAnother creature that hunts on the surface tension, using its short front legs to detect the struggles of its prey and its four longer back legs to skate out and catch it.The legs have special waterproof hairs on them that help stop them falling through the surface tension. Scientists still can’t work out how they’re able to push themselves forward.They’re a type of bug so they feed with their tube-shaped mouth by sucking out the insides of their prey. They inject it with a chemical that turns its body into soup first!Ramshorn SnailHave a simple lung inside the shell so need to come to the surface to take in air to breathe.They have red blood, very unusually for snails.Their shell is the same shape as an ammonite’s, but they belong to a very different group of molluscs – snails are gastropods, but ammonites were cephalopods, the group that contains octopuses and squid.Water BoatmanTwo types – greater water boatman, which swims on its back (So also known as a backswimmer) and lesser water boatman, which swim on their front (And there are many species).They have hairs around their bottom to help trap air close to the body when they dive underwater.The tiny species of lesser water boatman (Micronecta scholtzi) is one of the loudest animals on Earth for its body size.Water FleaTiny animals of which there can be thousands in a very small amount of water.Not like fleas that cats and dogs get – they’re a type of plant-eating crustacean and feed on algae in the water.Some species undergo a seasonal change where they grow spikes on their tails and a strange helmet structure. Scientists still have no idea why they do it!Water HoglousePart of the recycling service for the pond – hoglice eat waste products that fall to the bottom of the pond, including dead plant matter, dead animals and poo.They breathe with gills which are situated in the back end of the body so they can still breathe while they’re feeding in the mud!Wetlands are essential habitats, playing crucial roles in our environment. They protect our shores from waves, reduce the impacts of floods by soaking up water like a sponge, filtering and purifying it so water quality improves, and they absorb pollutants too.
Winter is the perfect time of the year, to see migrating ducks.
ILLUMINATURE is one of the most romantic spots in the capital
London Wetlands Centre is a place where you can take time out for yourself.
Meet Tod and Honey, our pair of Asian small-clawed otters.
For the first time, Londoners looking for a unique night out will be able to visit London Wetland Centre after dark to enjoy a magical illuminated landscape and experience a totally different perspective on wildlife.
Lisa Woodward talks about ILLUMINATURE, some of the highlights you can look out for and how she hopes the event will inspire a new generation to fall in love and engage with nature.
Experience Nature in a Different Light at London Wetland Centre this autumn
WWT London Wetland Centre uses grazing animals such as sheep and cattle to maintain and increase biodiversity on the reserve.
Spring is a brilliant time of the year when new life begins. It’s the perfect moment for you and your family to get outdoors and be inspired by nature.
As the centre is currently close, we have decided to show you, a bit of what is happening behind the scenes. Get a snapshot of our reserve management work and uncover the fascinating wildlife.
WWT London Wetland Centre is an ideal place to immerse yourself in nature and there is no better time to see what wetlands have to offer than autumn. Our wetlands are safe havens where people can explore the outdoors, focus some energy inwards and look a
WWT London Wetland Centre launches Wetlands Unravelled, a ten-month contemporary art programme woven throughout the lakes, ponds and reed beds of one of the capital’s largest wetlands.
Across WWT we are committed to minimising our negative environmental impacts and ensure continuous improvement in our sustainability. London Wetland Centre is no exception, and we have a huge range of sustainability initiatives in place.