Day Five: Monday 8 August
Russ suddenly realizes he has to drive to Oxford today to move his stuff back to London, so I improvise a London Wetland Centre plan. Much like the Dulwich Picture Gallery, it’s another place I always meant to visit when I lived in London, but never did.
What’s pretty cool about the place is the story behind its creation: when four Victorian-era reservoirs became redundant upon installation of the London Ring Main water system, rather than abandon the area to indiscriminate development, the reservoirs were used as the basis for this wetland centre. I rather like the idea of turning reservoirs into conservation sites. These days it seems people are more likely to do the opposite.
So with existing migratory routes already covering the area, they worked on the Field Of Dreams philosophy of “If you build it, they will come”, built a wetland paradise and just waited for birds to discover it – and they did.
I end up seeing about a hundred times more birds here today than I ever have at Sungei Buloh, and as any real ecosystem is, it’s teeming with all sorts of plant and animal life as well. The grounds are well-planned but not overly manicured, so you don’t feel you’re at yet another bird park or public duck pond.
It also has headfucks for non-bird people like me (I assume bird people already know about the Oxyura australis), who then end up stalking ducks round ponds for ages in blue-bill-induced disbelief.
I finish exploring the whole place in three leisurely hours. On the way home I look at the bus routes leaving from the bus stop I’m using. Tooting! I know someone in Tooting! On the spur of the moment I call Jeff (unannounced, out of the blue), and an hour or so later I am eating dinner with him. And thus ends my hastily improvised day, which I couldn’t have planned any better.