Great places to see wildlife in London
London is one of the UK's greenest cities, home to over 1,500 sites of conservation importance. Here are some of the best places to visit for a wild encounter.
WWT London Wetland Centre
By the River Thames in Barnes, West London, the lakes and marshes on this reserve have water voles (pictured above), grass snakes, wasp spiders, and nesting sand martins and lapwings. In winter there are usually a few bitterns and flocks of ducks such as shoveler, gadwall and teal.
Sydenham Hill Wood
Ancient woodland in the south of the capital, managed by the London Wildlife Trust. Among its highlights are old oaks, stag beetles, tawny owls, plenty of fungi and displays of woodland wildflowers including wood sage, wild garlic and bluebells.
RSPB Rainham Marshes
Downstream from London, the Thames was once lined by grazing marshes. This survivor, squeezed between the Eurostar railway line and a huge landfill site, is a good place to see water voles, dragonflies, wasp spiders, raptors and a host of waders and other waterbirds.
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
A compact reserve by the O2 arena: look for wasp spiders, nesting common terns and reed warblers (at close range!), and frogs. Wetland plants include flag iris and ragged robin.
Next to King's Cross, this London Wildlife Trust reserve – a patch of woodland around ponds and a tiny meadow – is a fabulous resource for office workers and city families.