Wildlife & Wellbeing Trail

The Wildlife & Wellbeing Trail is designed for you to journey through a unique ecosystem, discovering the endangered, protected and often hidden wildlife of Barking Riverside. Download the map to guide you through the 5km trail and listen to two sound artworks made by artist Joseph June Bond and residents.

The Trail Map
Download the map today to join the Wildlife & Wellbeing Trail. The trail takes you to Oystercatcher Park, home to endangered and protected species, as well as the Thames Foreshore, where you may see seals sunbathe on the shoreline while overlooking the historical trade and transport route for London.

Responding to the area’s histories and unique wildlife, the trail's permanent signage encourages residents and visitors to know more about these ecological areas. Through the trail, there are many interesting areas to visit.

Join the Wildlife & Wellbeing Trail today.

Estuaries of Echoes
As part of the trail, sound artist Joseph June Bond has worked closely with the community to create two new immersive sound artworks. Titled ‘Mud’ and ‘Marsh’, the works are inspired by the sounds of local industries, incorporating residents’ stories of Barking Riverside’s past, underwater recordings and the sounds of local youth ‘playing’ the landscape like an instrument.

The Water Vole
Water voles are present in every body of water at Barking Riverside. This endangered mammal used to be found in nearly every waterway in England. Now, they are thought to have been lost in 90% of these sites.

A specific habitat for water voles has been created at Oystercatcher Park, where they are safe and unharmed. They are an important species for wetland ecosystems as their actions create conditions for other plants and animals to thrive.

They are a bit shy so you may not see them - or you may confuse them with brown rats. You can recognise water voles by their rounded muzzle, hidden ears and small eyes. Where the brown rat has a long, hairless tail, the water vole’s tail is about half its body length. You may also recognise the water vole from the character ‘Ratty’ in the children’s classic The Wind in the Willows.

The Bat
There are 17 bat species in the UK. Three of the smallest species - with a wingspan of 22cm and body length of 3.5cm - have been recorded travelling along Oystercatcher Park. They are poetically named common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and Nathusius’ pipistrelle.

Bats are a sociable species and they live in colonies of 1,000 or more. They are also nocturnal. You are most likely to see them during the first half hour after sunset, from May to September, as they begin hibernating from October. They feed on midges, moths and other flying insects that they find in the dark by using sonar, eating up to 3,000 insects a night.

The number of bats is declining. Their main threats include climate change, pollution and human disturbance. Yet, they play an important role in our ecosystem, serving as pollinators, seed dispersers and pest controllers.
Habitats like Oystercatcher Park help ensure local bats have a safe haven.

The Bird
Rich bird life can be observed upon arriving at Barking Riverside’s jetty. The behaviour of birds is dictated by the tides - foraging on the mudflats at low tide and resting or roosting at high tide.

In Summer, the Migrant Common Tern breeds on the protected eastern end of the jetty, and forages along the shoreline. Once they finish breeding, they return to their non-breeding grounds along the west and south African coast, 8,000 miles away. You may see this silvery-grey bird, with a red bill, hover gracefully before diving down for a fish.

The colourful Shelduck with dark green head, chestnut belly stripes and red bill is present throughout the year. They nest along the foreshore and in holes, including old rabbit burrows. Nine species of gull have also been recorded, with the rare Yellow-Legged Gull making their way to Barking Riverside from the French Atlantic coast.

The Snake
An ambitious project has safely relocated reptiles across Barking Riverside, including Grass Snakes and Adders. Both species are protected and wide- spread throughout the UK, found in grassland, heathland, woodland, moorland and sometimes gardens. You can distinguish Adders from Grass Snakes by the former’s dark zigzagging pattern.

Snakes are cold-blooded. They rely on the sun’s warmth to remain active, often found basking on a log, patches of bare ground or under warm rocks between March and October. They purposely avoid humans, so they often register your presence and make an escape long before you get close to them. If seen, make sure to give them space and back away slowly. Grass Snakes will release a foul-smelling substance and strike with their head. Adders are venomous but a bite is very rare. When it does happen, seek medical help immediately.

The Dragonfly
Invertebrates are active when it is warm and sunny, and are more likely to be spotted during spring and summer. The grassland at the foreshore supports a variety of  invertebrate species, including butterflies, bees and wasps, spiders, snails, grasshoppers, damselflies and dragon- flies. These support foraging bats, birds and reptiles.

The Emperor Dragonfly is the largest, of the British dragonfly species. It is 7.8cm long and characterised by large eyes. You can identify a male emperor by its bright blue belly, with a black stripe running down the length of its body. Females look identical to the male but have a green belly. The Emperor Dragonfly does not rest for long. It even catches its prey in mid-air and may eat it as each of its wings moves in a different motion to give the impression of a helicopter.

The Seal
The River Thames supports a variety of marine mammals, including Harbour Seals, Grey Seals, Harbour Porpoises and the occasional Bottlenose Dolphin.

Grey Seals are the largest of the two seal species, reaching up to 2.5m. They are regularly spotted on the mudflats along the Thames Foreshore, basking in the shape of a banana to keep their head and flippers dry and warm.

They have a flat head and a long muzzle with parallel nostrils. They vary in colour from dark grey to creamy white, with white colouring on their bellies. Females may live for 35 years, while their male counterparts rarely exceed 25 years old.

120,000 Grey seals are estimated to live on British coasts, an impressive increase from only 500 in the early 20th century. To ensure we safely maintain their habitat, you can help by keeping foreshores and beaches clean and tidy.

The Wildlife & Wellbeing Trail is commissioned by Create London and funded by Barking Riverside Limited.


Do you have an idea for something new?

We are looking for more community partners to help with the programming of The Wilds. If you have an idea for something new, or would like to find out more, please send us an email.