12 January 2017

Taking in the Winter sun at Slimbridge

For Christmas we received a years membership to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) from Uncle M as he knew the Little Ones love to feed the ducks and could only frequent the canal near us so many times before they were going to get fed up of the same few duck feeding haunts! We live a short drive away from the Slimbridge WWT centre and have been members before but not since Little 2 and 3 came along and so it was a lovely surprise to open our package, we couldn't wait to go and feed the birds.

So the day after Boxing day, having been indoors visiting relatives and eating far too much for two days, we decided to don the hats and scarves and go to see the birds. It was a beautiful fresh winters day, the sun was shining and everywhere was frosty and frozen.

After persuading the Little Ones to skip through the activity areas and puzzles indoors thinking we will come back and do those on a wetter day when we need something indoors to do, we stepped outside onto the boardwalk to admire the birds.

It was late morning and the sun was very low in the sky shining through the trees, the ground was wet as we had had a heavy frost the night before and there was still lots of ponds covered in ice and icy puddles to break and splash in. It was all quite beautiful, grey and dull winter colours, white, grey and brown muddy ducks yet the sky was blue with not a cloud in sight and the sun shone brightly reflecting off the water.

Usually you can buy a bag of seed to feed the birds but today some of the birds were ill and so the staff were just doing controlled feeds to help control the spread of infection from us visitors handling the seed. As the wheel barrow full of seed came around the birds all zoomed over and followed it around the edge of the lake, it was quite a view.

The keeper was happy to let the children throw out scoops of seeds and Little 2 got herself straight in the thick of it waiting her turn. She was one of the smallest there in the middle of the bunch but full of confidence putting up her hand when it was the next person's turn and pleased when she had had her go. Little 1 however was a bit nervous of the birds and preferred to wait the other side of the gate!!

Little 3 was happy to watch and enjoyed running along the path stomping in tiny puddles stopping to look at the icy ponds and watching the birds landing on the water.

We went for a short stroll but didn't venture far into the reserve this time, we looked to see if the harvest mice were hibernating and watched the otters swimming for a while. The children were getting hungry so I produced some cookies and we sat watching ducks trying to walk on the ice which made the girls giggle.

Soon we had been there 2 hours without realising and the little Ones were well and truly ready for lunch and it was time to head home, but not without a bit of tree climbing on the way back!

What I love about Slimbridge is that there is so much to do, not just all the birds and paths but there is a big play area further down on in where you can grab a coffee, a water play area for wellies in spring or a place to bring a costume and play on a summer afternoon. There is a tropical house, bird talks and places to sit and spot birds if you can persuade 3 Little Ones to be quiet for a moment.

I know we will come back a lot this year and do something different each time. On the way out we spotted a sign for a puddle jumping competition soon, the girls are eager to return and attempt the biggest splash, they have already started practicing!

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