Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers at Slimbridge
It’s the end of the academic year, and the time to think about how to entertain the kids for six weeks. The thought of it can be quite daunting! We are planning to spend the first day at home in our pjs, but from then onwards it is all about getting out and about as much as possible. Of course, that can make it quite expensive if you’re not careful, but we will be relying on our annual subscriptions to keep costs down. I have been a WWT member for ten years, and Slimbridge is somewhere we go frequently with the girls. We definitely get our money’s worth as there is so much to do here with children. Over the last few years there has also been lots of family-friendly activities running during the school holidays. This summer, WWT Slimbridge are inviting the children to become one of Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers.
Last weekend, Freyja and I were invited to WWT Slimbridge to try out a few of the Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers activities that will be available. Freyja was given a VIP badge and lanyard, pencil and notepad which she used to make notes as we walked around the reserve. Every day in the summer holiday, children will be able to collect a free Wildlife Ranger log book when they arrive at WWT Slimbridge. If they complete at least four of the activities (which run daily) they will then receive they Wildlife Ranger badge.
Our first activity was hand feeding the birds in the centre. You can buy a bag of grain for £1 in the main building. The birds are very tame and used to being fed by hand, so this is a great activity for all ages. The birds are also very good at spotting the brown feed bags – it can be a little daunting to be greeted by a gaggle of greylag geese running up to you to be fed. I think this is the reason that my girls don’t fancy hand feeding the geese. There are plenty of wildfowl more than happy to eat grain thrown to them. We were able to feed some very cute mallard ducklings and Nene – the world’s rarest goose.
After this, we then became Nature Detectives. This hour-long activity took us into the reed beds with a warden. He encouraged the children to look for the signs of wildlife. We turned over logs and found toads and a newt underneath. Elsewhere we found a snake skin which had been recently shed. The highlight for the children seemed to be finding otter poo!
There are plenty of other activities as part of Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers which will be taking place during the summer holidays. You can go on a Canoe Safari to spot dragonflies, kingfishers and water voles. There is an additional cost of £5 per adult for this activity, and you have to have at least one adult per canoe. Children are free, but must be at least 3 years old.
There will also be Giant Nest Building, Ranger Survival Camp, Mini Raft Building and Pond Dipping.
Then of course there is Welly Boot Land. This has to be THE highlight of Slimbridge for the girls. They would happily spend all day in here, splashing about in the stream and enjoying the water. The area has recently had some work done to it to improve the water levels, and put in parasols in to create some shade. There is also a great outdoor playground and an indoor soft play area.
Of course, at the heart of Slimbridge is the birds and waterlife of the area, and their conservation. The amphibians in Toad Hall and otters are always worth a visit. And if you want to have a go at birdwatching the South Lake Discovery Hide is a brilliant place to start. There are binoculars and a telescope for all to use as well as ID guides. I have also found there are plenty of helpful birdwatchers who are more than happy to help.
We loved our little taster of the Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers activities for this year, and will definitely be heading back, multiple times, over the summer.