London may not be the first place you think of when it comes to watching wildlife, but the capital city is packed with birds, bees, butterflies and much bigger animals.
From official nature reserves to local beauty spots, there are plenty of places to spy on the wildlife in London.
Where to go bird watching
You don’t have to be a twitcher (a bird watcher) to enjoy the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, but you might be converted by the time you leave! The award-winning nature reserve plays host to thousands of migrating birds every season – you can spot bitterns in the winter and yellow wagtails in summer, while kingfishers, sand martins and plenty of ducks make their permanent home here. You can also see water voles, frogs and lizards, butterflies, and dragonflies in the lakes and gardens. There’s a café for humans to enjoy too.
Where to see butterflies
Butterflies are not rare in London, but it’s great to visit somewhere where you can find rare butterflies. Sydenham Wood near Forest Hill is the London Wildlife Trust’s oldest nature reserve. The unique mix of old and new woodlands, with a few remains of Victorian gardens, has a few large, sunny glades that are perfect for butterfly spotting. You should be able to see speckled wood, red admiral, purple hairstreak, peacock, comma and white. The Trust also run guided butterfly walks over the summer.
Where to watch deer
Richmond Park is the largest park in London and famous for its herds of red and fallow deer, which have had free reign of the park since 1637. You can happily wander through the parklands, but make sure you don’t get too close to the deer – they’re still wild animals – especially in the autumn, when the males compete by fighting and clashing their antlers together. Keep any dogs on a lead, and make sure the kids don’t disturb baby deer in the long grass or bracken during the summer months; their mothers can be defensive.
Where to find pond life
An urban oasis hidden between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, Camley Street Natural Park is a haven for wildlife and people alike. The former coal yard site on Regent’s Canal has been developed into ponds, marshes, wetlands, woodlands and parklands; the ideal home for frogs, fish, aquatic plants, birds, and bugs including stag beetles. Bats often make an appearance in the evenings too. Why not book your little ones in to a pond-dipping session while you unwind with a picnic? Perfect.
Travelling with little monkeys
If you’re taking the kids to London, our overnight sleeper service between Scotland and London is ideal. Our on-board WiFi will help keep them entertained, while you get some shut-eye in a comfy bunk. Then, when you arrive at Victoria Coach station, you’re all set to start spotting the wildlife in London.
Book a trip to London >