21 July 2017

The Little Ones are VIP wildlife explorers at WWT Slimbridge

For those of you who regularly read my blog you will know that we are members and regular visitors of our local wetlands centre WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. We have visited in the depths of Winter and the heat of the Summer, and we have had hours of fun jumping in puddles, and exploring the centre too already this year.

We were recently contacted by Slimbridge and asked whether the Little Ones would like to become VIP Wildlife Explorers for a day to road test their summer activities for them. We had already spotted the adverts for 'Dusty's Wildlife Explorers' when we were last there and having planned to go at the start of the holidays anyway, we were certainly willing to be the first to try them out. 

After being warmly greeted on arrival, the Little Ones were issued with notepads and pencils and special VIP explorer lanyards, before we set off and met the other bloggers and their families as we headed through the centre to our first Nature Detectives experience.

After meeting Dave, our guide, we began to explore the rookery; with handfuls of feathers, the Little Ones looked on as Dave over turned logs to see what he could find. One newt, three toads and lots of woodlice later the children were captivated and chatty, ready to explore further.


Dave took us through a gate and out onto the reed beds (not normally accessible to the public) where he explained how they filtered the dirty water coming from the flamingo ponds. He showed us how to look for signs of animals and told us about what we might find in the area.



We set off to explore guided by Dave, we found empty oyster shells left over from an Otter's dinner and a grass snake skin under a sheet of metal, Dave told us the snakes like to lay eggs in the compost heaps as they are warm inside.



As we wandered deeper into the reed beds, Dave told us how to identify several different types of animal poo that we found, did you know Foxes like to poo on top of things?! We found hidey holes and plenty of animal evidence, from dug out vole burrows to the rather strangely named otter scenting goo (Anal jelly anyone!).



Dave told us about some of the plants we came across too. Both girls were right up the front of the action the whole time running off after Dave to see what he would find for them next, the whole nature detective talk lasted an hour and while Little 3 fell asleep on Daddy's shoulder,the girls never once lost interest or asked if we could move on.


Daddy and I learnt a lot of new things from the talk too and it was great to see the reed beds and look at how they cleaned the dirty flamingo water as we walked through seeing as we had never been allowed that side of the gate before.


Once we said goodbye to Dave we headed off for a bit of canoeing, Well Daddy and the girls did, I kept Little 3 on the bank, I didn't fancy having to dive in after him.



While the three of them disappeared off not to be seen for an hour exploring by boat, Little 3 and I fed the birds and played in the park while we waited for them to come back.




On their return the girls were full of it and obviously had a great time, they loved their first experience of travelling by boat and would like to do it again in the holidays.


After a tasty lunch in the Kingfisher restaurant we said goodbye to the other bloggers and continued to explore on our own. We spotted some new wooden teepees that the girls had to be persuaded to leave.


We did a little more bird watching, with one person in particular in charge of the binoculars!



And of course no trip to Slimbridge is complete without splashing around in Wellyboot Land. We left at the end of another full day at Slimbridge and you know what, despite being members and visiting often, we still haven't made it up the observation tower or had a trip out on the landrover safari as there is so much to see and do, there is no doubt we will be back very soon.


Over the summer holidays this year, 22nd July-3rd September, Slimbridge are running 'Dusty's Wildlife Rangers' event. Children can collect a free log book and take part in the summer activities (most are free, Canoeing and the Landrover safari are extra) to earn stickers and if you manage to complete 6 you will be rewarded with a badge. We tested out the Canoe safari and the Nature Detectives walk but there is also Giant nest building, Ranger survival camp, Build a mini raft, Pondamonium, Bird feeding and also a Landrover Safari.

All the events are on daily over the holidays and if you go you might just see us there having a go at the others and trying to earn our badges too. 

N.B We were invited for a complimentary day out at Slimbridge to road test these summer activities for the purpose of this blog post. However we love Slimbridge so much we are actually members anyway and think it truly is a great day out for families.

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