6 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.

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Water vole

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Regent’s Park

One of London’s most popular green spaces has hedgehogs, kestrels, tawny owls and green woodpeckers. The bustling heronry, with 20–25 pairs viewable, is a top attraction in the spring nesting season.

6. Camley Street

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.

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