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The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust site at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire has long been a favourite day out for local families. This summer, they have launched the Wetland Heroes app to make it even more exciting. Visitors can follow a trail and scan signs for extra information about the creatures they meet. Read interesting facts, take a fun selfie and even listen to the sounds they make. We headed to Slimbridge for the launch of the Wetland Heroes app and to enjoy a fun day out in the sunshine.
About WWT Slimbridge
The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust is the leading wetland conservation charity in the UK. They have various sites across the country dedicated to habitat preservation and education. With over a third of all wetlands having disappeared, the charity aim to preserve remaining wetlands and create more, as well as saving the wildlife that relies on this important part of our natural infrastructure. WWT Slimbridge has a fantastic balance between wide open spaces allowing visitors to see wetlands as they should be, and fun, interactive areas to educate people about the importance of wetlands.
Lots of geese, ducks, swans and other birds roam freely around WWT Slimbridge. To get really up close and personal with the birds, the visitor centre sells grain to feed them within designated areas. Twelve bird hides are available to look out onto the open wetland areas of the Slimbridge Nature Reserve. This is a great place to see swans, geese, ducks and wading birds. You might even spot a wild otter, kingfisher, hare or grass snake. In Winter, up to 35,000 wildfowl make their homes in the nature reserve, which is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI).
For younger visitors, there are two play areas. Welly Boot Land where children can splash about in the water, and Riverlife playground. An additional family activity is the canoe safari. There are plenty of other things to explore too, including sections to learn about different species from around the world. Look out for the cute otters, brightly coloured flamingos and fascinating Arctic Adventure.
The Wetland Heroes app at WWT Slimbridge
Wetland Heroes is a brand new, free app created by Aardman especially for WWT Slimbridge. Its interactive content encourages visitors to explore the whole centre, particularly the parts that you might otherwise overlook. It sets fact finding missions and challenges so the whole family can get involved. Aardman’s animations capture the species on site beautifully and offer more insight into each of them, complete with sound effects.
I’ve always felt that Slimbridge is somewhere that you can visit several times in a year and still not feel like you’ve seen it all. It changes every season with a different landscape and wildlife present each time. The app draws on this experience by offering different missions depending on when you visit. To become a full Wetland Hero, you’ll need to visit every season.
Various frames are unlocked as you move through the WWT Slimbridge site. With these, you can take a selfie to show what you’ve seen. It’s a great way for the whole family to learn together about wildlife and the environment. It is heartening to hear how much children learn about the environment at school these days. The app encourages families to talk about nature together. It’s definitely an opportunity for adults to learn from the knowledge children pick up from school as well as from the app.
Using the Wetland Heroes app on a family day out at WWT Slimbridge
Like most families, whenever we go to WWT Slimbridge, we always head for the more popular areas first. The children make a beeline for Welly Boot Land, even now they’re getting a bit older. We were lucky enough to have glorious sunshine for our visit, so two trips to Welly Boot Land were definitely called for. Each time we had to go into the bird feeding zone as well. The friendly geese were the highlight of our trip. The otters are always a firm favourite too, as well as the flamingos. But this does mean that we can miss out on some areas that I know the children would enjoy if they gave them a chance.
That’s where the app comes in. I would advise downloading it before you go and having a good look through. There is a map on there, so you can plan all the things you most want to see. There is a lot of walking involved with a day out like this, so it’s wise to plan in picnic stops and plenty of time to sit in the bird hides for a rest. The app makes the planning process much easier. Decide which species and areas you want to see and set out on a mission to each.
We even had another look at the app when we got home. We are keen to visit again at a different time of year, particularly in Winter when there will be so many more species of wildfowl in the nature reserve. Perhaps we’ll even manage to visit every season to become true Wetland Heroes.
Things to bring on a visit to WWT Slimbridge
- For children: Wellies or water shoes plus towels and swimming costumes or puddle suits and a change of clothes to make the most of Welly Boot Land. In the Summer, it’s definitely best for them to be in swimming costumes. In winter, wellies and puddle suits are fine but either way a change of clothes is wise.
- Food and drink: There are a couple of cafés on site, but there are also plenty of places to sit and have a picnic. We took a picnic with us and bought and ice cream at the café. It is definitely a full day out so do have a plan for eating and drinking.
- Binoculars: If you have some good binoculars, they will make a big difference when you’re in the bird hides.
To find out more about WWT Slimbridge and the Wetland Heroes app, head to their website. They also have details of special events and how you could help out as a volunteer if you have a few hours a week to spare.
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