There are six wildlife viewing hides dotted around WWT London Wetland Centre each offering different perspectives across the lakes and lagoons.
New Headley Discovery hide
“A hide for the 21st century” Mike Dilger
A visit to our new Headley Discovery Hide is a fantastic way to start your exploration of London Wetland Centre. This hide has amazing views of the main lake, reedbeds, tern rafts and shallow pools so you can see lots of different birds close up.
It has large windows offering panoramic views, telescopes and binoculars with information on how to use them and a CCTV camera with a large colour screen so you can see the antics of our feathered friends up close as they gather on the bird feeders.
The Headley Discovery Hide has ID panels and bird books so you can easily identify the birds you see; if you visit at different times of the year you’ll see different species. And it also offers plenty of tips on how to watch wildlife.
Relax on the comfy seating while you watch colourful ducks such as mallards and teal, watch for elusive bitterns in the reedbeds in winter or enjoy the spectacle of terns diving for food on the main lake in summer.
As Mike Dilger, TV naturalist and author, said when he opened the new hide, “This is a hide for the 21st century. I thoroughly commend you and I think it will be an absolute success.”
Visitor comments about the new Headley Hide
"There can't be another one like this anywhere" Andrew & Isabel, WWT Members.
"The telescopes are so good. I could see each individual bird very far away. Such fun!"
"I loved looking at the birds with my pink binoculars" Ellie, aged 9.
The best place to start visit to the Centre is in the Observatory in the courtyard. This two-storey, heated viewing gallery offers a panoramic view across the main lake with the London skyline as a back drop. You can view lapwing searching for insects on the edges of the islands, terns breeding on the rafts and at the same time catch a glimpse of the Shard and the London Eye!
The two storey Wildside hide has wonderful views over the reservoir lagoon so it’s a great place to watch hundreds of ducks, especially in the winter, and great crested grebes are often seen here. You can also watch warblers flitting across the reedbeds or little grebes in the channels.
The wader scrape hide
The wader scrape hide is fantastic for watching wading birds and dabbling ducks feeding on the scrape. Redshanks, green sandpipers and herons are often visible from here.
If you are a regular visitor you will notice the water levels rising and falling throughout the winter because the scrape is managed by our reserve team to replicate a tidal river habitat. As the levels rise the water washes up insects and seeds on which the wading birds feed.
Peacock Tower and sand martin nest bank
Probably our most popular hide – and the one you should definitely visit if you don’t have much time – is the Peacock Tower. A three storey hide with lift access, it offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the entire reserve.
From here you can see the many species of birds that inhabit the main lake, the grazing marsh, the wader scrape and the sheltered lagoon. Look out too for birds of prey, such as the pair of local peregrines, hunting over the main lake. You might even see our highland cattle grazing on the marsh, being followed by yellow wagtails in the summer.
From the Peacock Tower do make sure you spend some time watching the sand martin bank, on the south side of the wader scrape, in the summer. You can see these amazing aerial acrobats swooping across the water catching insects to take back to the bank for their young.
Don’t miss the opportunity of a visit to the nest bank itself. You can go inside, behind the bank, to discover more about these tough but delicate little birds. CCTV cameras allow you to see into their nests with amazing views of them feeding their chicks.
WWF and Dulverton hides
From the WWF and Dulverton hides you can get close-up views of the islands in the main lake and the birds that rest and preen on them throughout the day. Little grebes can often be seen from these hides, as well as herons, gulls and our wintering ducks such as gadwall and shoveler.