“Long before words like biodiversity were coined, Peter looked out from that huge window in his house at Slimbridge and realised our lives are so linked with our natural world that we have to learn to love and look after it”. The words of Sir David Attenborough about his friend Sir Peter Scott. (Healthy wetlands are the most biodiverse habitats on earth supporting 40% of the world’s species despite only covering 6% of the earth’s surface)
We enjoyed a delightful day walking around Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire. The facts and figures abour the conservation of birds was quite fascinating. The Hawaiian Goose (or Nene) was the World’s rarest goose with only 30 left. Sir Peter Scott successfully bred them in captivity and they were re-introduced to Hawaii. The Madagascar Pochard were also endangered but are now raised and released into the wild. The Pied Avocet was saved from extinction in Britain and this led to its adoption as the logo of the RSPB. The number of Black-necked Swans within the nature sanctuary in Chile was down to only four birds due to pollution from industry. The breed is now classed as “Least Concern”.
We went into the Arctic Tundra Hut to see what life was like for the arctic explorers – the type of living conditions, the food that was eaten and the clothes that were worn. There was a lot to discover. We also went into Toad Hall where the amphibians live in aquariums. It is one of the largest in Europe which features 60 species, some of which are threatened in the wild. The most popular area was the Otter Pool – this is where the families gathered to watch the feeding time.
The Scott House Museum was closed on the day we visited the wetland centre – it is only open Monday to Friday and you need to pre-book. The other thing that was closed due to Covid restrictions on the day we visited was the fully accessible lift to the Estuary Tower Hide with its extensive views. Throughout the site however, mobility scooters are available for disabled visitors. We did not need them but were grateful that the walks around the paths and gardens were all on the flat.
Of course, we had a drink and a snack from the kiosk and a browse around the gift shop, where I bought a couple of things to take back home for the family. Two things that I wished that I had brought along on the day were a pair of binoculars and a camera with a long lens for capturing that perfect bird shot.
The Centre is now celebrating its 75th year and is well worth a visit. The WWT deserves support in its work to combat the effects of climate change.