14 November 2022
Who doesn’t love watching ducks splashing about? Watching water birds is a great activity to get children of all ages excited about nature and the environment. You can even hire a rowing boat or pedalo in many of these parks, to get closer to the wildlife and make great family memories.
Located next to Buckingham Palace, this public park features the Queen’s collection of exotic water birds from around the world. Stand on the bridge in the middle of the lake with views of many of London’s iconic sites and watch black swans from Australia and huge pelicans glide beneath you. Explore the vegetable garden outside the picturesque Duck Island Cottage. In spring, there are ducklings galore and attractive blossom on the trees. Two cafés and several kiosks sell meals, ice cream and drinks, while there’s a playground for the kids to let off steam.
Meet ducks from all over the world at the London Wetland Centre. Get up close with eider ducks, rare Hawaiian geese, blue beaked ducks from Iraq, ducks that whistle, elegant cranes, and majestic swans. Learn about the wild birds on site and try out telescopes and binoculars in the family-friendly Headley Hide. Kids will love the adventure playground and Discovery Centre, plus there are regular events for all the family. Please note, this site has an admission charge.
This popular suburban park has a sizeable population of stunning mandarin ducks, with their ornate plumage. The large lake allows the whole family to see wild birds up close and feed them — bring grain, oats, corn, rice, bird seed or chopped up vegetable scraps. In spring, bring along some binoculars to see herons nesting on the island. Inquisitive squirrels will come right up close in search of food. Kids will love the playground and running around the lawns and woodland.
This lovely Royal Park features a lake teeming with wildlife, plus an ornamental garden with a pond and waterfall. Look out for long-legged grey herons prowling along the edges of the lake. The Regents Canal also runs through the park, past London Zoo, to Camden Lock. Hire a rowing boat or pedalo and explore the lake or take a walk through the formal gardens.
The Serpentine Lake is very popular with ducks, geese, swans and other water birds. The Round Pond also attracts a lot of birds. Look out for long beaked shoveler ducks in the winter months. Kids will love the Diana Memorial Playground and in the summer, take them to cool off in the Memorial Fountain. Two lakeside cafés will keep the whole family fed.
Less famous than Richmond Park, Bushy Park has flatter terrain more suitable for youngsters. The Longford River flows through and there are a number of ponds with ducks and other wildfowl. Formal gardens include the Woodland Gardens which are beautiful year-round and the Water Gardens. Keep an eye out for herds of wandering deer but make sure to give them space.
This popular East London park is great for kids, with two playgrounds, a paddling pool and two cafés. Hire a boat and explore the Western Boating Lake, which is popular with ducks, geese and swans. Cross the restored iron bridge to the ornate Chinese pagoda on one of the three islands. Canals run along the park boundaries on two sides, and two play areas, a paddling pool, two cafés and boat hire make this park ideal for a whole day out.
Part of the huge Epping Forest, this park was once the grounds of a mansion. A lake and several ponds are home to many water birds, plus the River Roding attracts more wildlife including little egrets and kingfishers. The Grotto, built to resemble a ruined castle, adds intrigue to lakeside views.
This popular Islington park features two duck ponds, plus a stretch of the New River. Look out for non-native terrapins relaxing around the ponds on sunny days. Elsewhere in the park, you can visit enclosures of animals, including goats and deer.
With a total of over 30 lakes and ponds, there are plenty of homes for water birds on Hampstead Heath. The lakes outside Kenwood House are home to many birds and the deceptive “Sham Bridge”. The kids will be amazed by the views across London from Parliament Hill and the nearby playground and paddling pool is sure to be a hit.