WildinWalthamstow:Europe’sbiggesturbanwetlandsopens

作者:amantha    發表日期:2017-12-28 10:55:03


We’restrollingalongSongbirdWalk,beneatharowofwatersidepoplarsverylikeonesMonetpaintedinNormandy.TheOctoberskyisgreybutthefootpathislinedwithwildflowers:yellowgorse,purpleknapweed,whitecampion.Withaliquidtwittering,aflockofgoldfinchesswoopoverhead,thenaclear,penetratingsongburstsfromthebushestooneside.“Ooh,aCetti’swarbler,”sayswetlandsdirectorVeronicaChrisp.

Theremarkablethingaboutthispeacefulscene,though,isthatit’snotsomecornerofruralEnglandbutaformerno-goareaintheLeevalley,betweendowntownWalthamstowandgrittyTottenhaminnorthLondon,afewmilesnorthoftheOlympicPark.Fordecades,thisgroupofreservoirswasoutofboundstoeveryoneexcept,basically,abunchofanoraks:fishermenandbirderswhoobtainedthenecessarypermits.Now,aftera£10.6minvestmentbytheLondonWildlifeTrust,WalthamForestcouncil,ThamesWaterandtheHeritagelotteryfund,WalthamstowWetlands,Europe’slargesturbanwetlandreserve,isreadytoopentothepublic.

OwnedbyThamesWater,itisstilloperational,supplying3.5mhouseholds.Butfrom20October,the211-hectaresite,with13milesoffootpathandcycletrackbetween10reservoirs,eightislands,andLondon’slargestheronry,willopentothepublicdailyfromdawntodusk.Londonalreadyhasawell-regardedwetlandreserve,insouth-westLondonbutafamilytickettotheBarnescentrecostsmorethan£30,whilethisoneisfree.(Thereisaparkingchargebutit’swalkingdistancefromseveraltubeandovergroundstations.)

Atthemaingate,onFerryLane,an1885buildingthathousedthesteam-drivenpumpengineisnowavisitorcentrewithcafe,shopandexhibitionspace.Fromitsviewingplatform,welookdownonswansglidingalongtheprettyCoppermillstream,thenoverthree19th-centuryhand-dugreservoirs,lookinglikenaturallakeswiththeirorganicshapesandwoodedbanks.Moremodernreservoirsfurtheroutarelessattractivebut,we’retold,theirlargestretchesofwaterandislandsareimportanttotheoverallecologyofthesite.

WalthamstowWetlandsexpectstosee250,000humanvisitorsinitsfirstyear,butotherkindsofguesthavebeencomingtothissiteofspecialscientificinterest(SSSI)foryears:waterfowlsuchaspochard,gadwallandshovelerducksoverwinterhere;andit’sastopoverformigratingsandpipers,redshank,lapwingsandmore.The“common”kingfisher(whichisanythingbut)breedshere,andeveryyearcormorantsrebuildacolonyofsticksandbranchesonthelargerislandstoreartheirdownychicks.

Theenginehouse’sVictorianchimneyhasbeenrebuiltasbijouaccommodationforwingedvisitors:50-oddsmallopeningsupanddownitsflanksareperfectnestingsitesforswifts,aerobaticwhizzeswhosleeponthewingandonlystopflyingtobreed,butwhosenumbersarethreatenedbyurbanisation.Slitsonitssouthsideareadesresforthesite’slargebatpopulation,forwhomlightinglevelsatnightarekeptsuitablylow.Thenewly-plantedreedbedsweseeasweheadsouthonHeronWalkenhancethelookofreservoirone,butalsomakeagreathabitatforbitternsandbeardedtits.

Therehasbeenamillonthissitesinceatleast1086(it’sintheDomesdayBook),producingpaperandcopper

Itwasimportant,saysVeronica,tokeepitfeelingwild–aplaceprimarilyfornature:therearenobiginformationboards,andsignageisallground-levelandlow-key.Asweroundabendpastabirdhide,anexcellentviewoftheShard,theGherkinandotherCitytowersisasharpreminderthatthisisnot,infact,deepestSuffolk.

FurtherdownthestreamistheratherolderCoppermillTower.Therehasbeenamillonthissitesinceatleast1086(it’sintheDomesdayBook),producingpaperandgunpowderaswellascopper,butthismid-Victorianbuilding,withitsItalianateloggia,wouldn’tlookoutofplaceinSiena.Nowalsoopentothepublic,itofferspanoramassouthtotheOlympicParkandCanaryWharf,andwestacrossHackneyMarshestocentralLondon.

LocalStephenAyersfirstsawthesiteduringLondonOpenHouse2014.“Iwasamazed,”hesays,“tofindthatthispeacefullakeland,whichremindedmeofchildhoodholidaysatConistonWaterandWindermere,hadbeenrighthereforsolong.”Nowsuchafanthathe’sknownasWetlandsSteve(onFacebook),herunsguidedwalksfortheLondonWildlifeTrust.

With500,000peoplelivingwithintwomilesofthereserve,andmillionsmoreunderanhourawaybypublictransport,excitementabouttheopeninghasbeenwidespread.Photographerswillrelishthewaterysunsets,cyclistswelcomeanewGLA-fundedrouteacrosstheLeevalleytoTottenham,naturalistslookforwardtoseeingmatingdamselfliesinthespring,andtwitcherstospottingeverythingfromlittlegrebestoperegrinefalcons(particularlyoncethefirstbirdhideisrenovated–asecondisawaitingfunding).

Butthoseofuswhoarenoneoftheabovecan,asWetlandsStevesays,justenjoythis“beautiful,therapeuticandtranquilplace”.Anoraksnotcompulsory.

•Forfreefamilywildlifeeventsallnextweek(bookingessential),ontopicsfrombirdsandbatstohedgehogs,gotowalthamstowwetlands.com

FIVEOFTHEUK’SBESTBIRDWATCHINGSITES

PuffinsonRathlinIsland,NorthernIreland

RathlinIsland,thenorthernmostpointofNorthernIreland,ishometothecountry’sbiggestseabirdcolony.Thestaristhepuffin,whicharrivesinApriltobreedandheadsbackouttoseainlateJuly.OtherbirdstoseeattheWestLightSeabirdCentre,arefurbishedlighthouse,includerazorbills,guillemots,kittiwakesandfulmars.TheRoonivoolinReserveinthesouthoftheislandattractschoughs,lapwings,corncrakesandsnipe,whileeiderduckslazearoundtheharbour.

•Admissionfree,returnferryfarefromBallycastleis£12adult,£6childand£32family,rathlincommunity.org

SwansatAbbotsbury,Dorset

TheAbbotsburySwannerywasfoundedbyBenedictinemonksinthemid-11thcenturyandtodayistheonlymanagedcolonyofnestingmuteswansintheworld.The600free-flyingswansliveina25-acresanctuary;fluffycygnetshatchfrommid-MaytotheendofJune,andlearntoflyinSeptemberandOctober.Visitorscanwalkamongtheswansandhelpatfeedingtime(middayand4pm).Therearealsolotsofgeese,ducksandotherwaterfowl.

•From£10adult,£7.60child,abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk

OspreysatLochGarten,Highlands

In1954,apairofbreedingospreysnestedinAbernethyForestnexttoLochGarten–thefirstseeninScotlandsince1916.Since1959,apairhasnestedthereeveryyear,andtodaythereisanOspreyCentrewithbinoculars,telescopesandCCTVviewsofthenest.TheospreyscanbeseenfromApriltoAugust,whilethecapercaillie,Scotland’slargestgrouse,putoncourtshipdisplaysinAprilandMay.Otherinhabitantsincludecrestedtits,goldeneyesandScottishcrossbills.

•£5adult,£2child,£10family,rspb.org.uk

NightingalesatWhisbynaturepark,Lincolnshire

NightingalesareontheRedListofUKbirds,whichmeansurgentactionisneededtosavethemfromextinction:accordingtotheRSPB,theirnumbershavedroppedby90%overthepast50years.AswellasthechallengeofcrossingtheSaharatwiceayear,andfindingfoodduringwinterinwestAfrica,theyneedasuitablebreedingsitewhentheyreturninspring.OnesuchsiteisWhisbynaturepark,reclaimedgravelpitsnowrunbyLincolnshireWildlifeTrust,whichorganisesguidednightgalewalksinlateApril.Warblers,swallowsandternsalsoflocktothelakes,woodlandandmeadows.

•Free,smallcar-parkingcharge,lincstrust.org.uk

EaglesontheIsleofRum,InnerHebrides

Thewhite-tailedeagleistheUK’sbiggestbirdofprey.ItbecameextinctinBritainintheearly20thcenturybuthassincebeenreintroduced.TheIsleofRum,wherethefirsteagleswerereleasedin1975,nowhasmorethan50breedingpairs,andisalsohometogoldeneagles.TheeaglesareoutnumberedbythecolonyofManxshearwaters,however:morethan60,000pairsnestinmountainburrowsfromlateMarchtoSeptember.

•Admissionfree,returnferryfarefromMallaigis£8.30adult,£4.20child,isleofrum.com

原文地址:https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/oct/19/walthamstow-wetlands-london-birdwatching-nature-reserve-free-entry

 

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