5 Places To See Wildlife In London

One of the biggest misconceptions about London is that it's a miasma of concrete and steel where the only creatures you'll ever encounter are rats, pigeons and hoodies. This couldn't be further from the truth - London is a city with one of the highest percentages of green space in the world, and is even set to become the world's first National Park City in 2019. As well as the many amazing city farms that you can visit, you'll encounter an incredible range of wildlife when you're out and about.

Here's my top 5 places to see wildlife around the city:

1. Frogs in Holland Park

Holland Park is home to all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures including a troop of very vain peacocks that pose for pictures and some cracking koi carp that live in the beautiful Kyoto Garden. But come early March, the pond surrounding the statute of Lord Holland becomes a massive frog discotheque that teems with frogspawn and amorous frog couples. It's a great spot to take photos and to enjoy the moment when visitors who've come to feed the ducks suddenly notice the mass of frogs below. 

Another great photo op is when the resident doves takes frequent turns at sitting on Lord Holland's head, becoming rather genteel living millinery.  

Nearest station: Holland Park (Central Line)

2. Deer in Hampton Court Park

London is home to several famous herds of deer including in Richmond and Greenwich Parks, and if you believe the Daily Mail, they also roam the streets of the city in big lawn-wrecking gangs. If you want to cheat and get an easy fix of those sweet, cute deer faces, there's also a very tame bunch that live in an enclosure in Golders Hill Park, just next to Hampstead Heath (though beware, they co-habit with some terrifying rheas). But my favourite place to see deer is in Hampton Court Park and the adjoining Bushy Park, where you can stroll in the shadow of Hampton Court Palace and see the herd grazing alongside the Long Lake all year round.

Nearest station: Hampton Court (via Victoria Station)

3. Burnet Moths in The Olympic Park

At the height of summer, you'll see brightly coloured butterflies all over London, so if you've a keen photographer it's worth investing in a macro lens. I swear I saw a bright yellow and black swallowtail flying through central Walthamstow last year (and the local Lloyd Park is a great place to see Small Blues), though my favourite recent find was a kaleidoscope of burnet moths in The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The planting used throughout the park is divine and the quieter Great British Garden is a little paradise oasis on a hot summer's day.

Nearest station: Stratford (Central Line, Jubilee Line and Overground)

4. The Tooting Terrapins 

Some massively irresponsible wrong 'un released some terrapins into the lake on Tooting Common a few years ago, and we've come across them a few times over the last few years sunning themselves on a log. They seem to be remarkably hardy, though unfortunately I hear they've been munching on the fish stocks in the pond, and they're definitely a rather weird and wonderful sight to behold. I'm not sure how much longer they'll be in residence, last time we visited someone had put a pair of traffic cones near them in what appeared to be some sort of remedial removal action, but who knows, perhaps you'll spot them again in 2018!

Nearest station: Tooting Bec (Northern Line)

5. Tame parakeets in Hyde Park

One day when we were strolling through Hyde Park, we came across a bizarre sight: under a tree, a man was holding his hand in the air and cooing to himself as if he was trying to lure something down from a great height. Silly man! I chuckled to myself. Suddenly, a bright green parakeet flew out the tree and perched on his hand, then another, then another. Then we saw that the tree was absolutely covered in parakeets. The story goes that several years ago, a pair of pet parakeets escaped in the city and the rest is history: wherever you go now, you'll hear their distinctive squawking then see them flit from tree to tree. 

And they're very, very tame: tourists flock to Hyde Park to feed them, and they will happily come and sit on your hand to eat seeds and peanuts (if you can stand having their weird little bird toes on you, I can't), though the pigeons have got in on it too now so watch out or they'll sneak onto your hand while you're trying to take a selfie. The best place to see them is in the trees just beyond the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, and you'll definitely hear them before you'll see them. Take peanuts for your new pals!

Nearest station: Lancaster Gate (Central Line)

Other places you can visit:

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park is teeming with wildlife and is home to several bird watching hides for budding ornithologists. You'll also see massive carp trying to capsize unwitting ducks.

The WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes is home to a romp of otters, and apparently you see them at feeding time every day. I've not been myself, but it's definitely on my to do list for 2018.

Regents Park is heron central. I once saw an old lady in an immaculate tweed suit feeding 30+ herons what looked like raw salmon from a tupperware. That's probably why there's so many.

Want to see some footage of the Tooting terrapins, Hyde Park parakeets and Holland Park frogs? Take a look at this music video I made that they have cameos in!