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Class 5 Become Birdwatchers at Slimbridge!

Class 5 took flight on a chilly yet very peaceful and inspiring excursion to begin the new year, visiting the Slimbridge WWT Wetlands Centre as part of their class topic this half term on bird migration.

 

  

  

  

 

The centre, opened in 1946 by the renowned naturalist and artist Sir Peter Scott as the first site of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) which he also founded, covers over 2,000 acres and contains the largest collection of wildfowl in the world, with many water birds living there all year round while others use the ground during migration in the winter to and from their summer breeding grounds.

 

  

 

On arrival at the centre on an overcast yet dry January morning, our intrepid young ornithologists were greeted by the WWT staff, before entering a large room where the large windows gave them wonderful views of the kinds of wildlife they would be spotting during the day.

 

  

  

 

It was then time to keep warm in the brisk conditions that day by going walkabout around the wooden bridges and footways around the centre, where the pupils enjoyed getting more up close and personal with the many geese, swans and ducks peacefully gliding around the many lakes at the centre. The puddle ducks in particular were a real highlight!

 

    

  

    

 

The class then put their birdspotting and binocular skills to the test, entering one of many wooden enclosures at the site with narrow slitted windows (known as 'hides'), where they could observe the wildlife from a distance without disturbing them. Aside from the more common wildfowl shown above, our eagle-eyed naturalists were able to spot some rarer kinds of birds in the distance!

 

  

  

    

 

It was then time for what our young explorers found to be the most intriguing and exciting part of the trip, as they got the chance to explore a replica of a wooden hut used as living quarters by a group of scientists in northern Russia during the 1950s as they studied migration patterns.

 

  

  

  

 

The class enjoyed testing out the sleeping arrangements, trying out combinations of the local delicacies on the stove, reading copies of the actual diaries written by the explorers who used such accommodation in their studies, and naming the lemmings which they found hiding around the living quarters. Although somewhat cosy, the lack of any televisions, games consoles and Wi-Fi proved to be quite a shock for our ornithologists, with much interest also being shown in the unfamiliar site of the outdoor toilet facility!

 

  

  

 

 

Following a quick stop for lunch in the theatre and a visit to the gift shop for those all-important cuddly birds, the group then finished the excursion with a climb up of a tall wooden tower, where they were rewarded for their exercise with a magnificent view over the surrounding natural wetlands with the Severn Bore and Estuary being just visible in the distance in the cloudy conditions. Our explorers even managed to pick out some new types of wildlife over the marsh lands!

 

  

  

  

 

Back at school, our young ornithologists used their Slimbridge experience to create a variety of highly original and clever pieces of work, including writing their own highly authentic-looking journals on bird migration which looked so realistic that one would have been mistaken for thinking that they had been found in the cabin of the HMS Beagle, and sculpting some amazing wire bird models. Our very practical pupils even made us of a sewing machine with the help of local artists Simon in order to bind their journals together!

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

  

    

 

A HUGE thank you to Mrs. McManus for organizing another fantastic and really interesting and inspiring trip for our oldest pupils, and to Mr. Ponter and Simon for accompanying the pupils and taking photos on the day. The full range of pictures from the visit can be seen in the slideshow below.

 

Class 5 WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre Bird Migration Trip