Tarka the otter, that famous book by brilliant naturalist Henry Williamson is a must read for all wildlife enthusiasts.

The author's meticulous and patient observations over many years enabled him to write a true and vivid account of an otter's daily life along two Devon rivers.

Until a decade or so ago as the result of persecution, habit destruction, pesticides and pollution, the otter's population was almost on the brink.

However, the magnificent animal is now protected and is returning to most of Britain's rivers including the Thames.

Being mainly nocturnal, we would be very fortunate to see one in the wild but there is one prime location, namely the London Wetland Centre in Barnes where we can enjoy the antics of otters as they playfully interact with one another in a sizeable purpose-built enclosure.

At feeding time the otters enjoy a diet of fish and attract a crowd of onlookers enjoying the fun.

Otters are just one among a wealth of attractions that the wonderful wetland centre offers for all ages throughout the year from a wide variety of birds to butterflies, dragonflies, wild flowers and reptiles and hands on activities.