Slimbridge wildlife hides re-opening next week
By David Wood
Nature lovers will once again be able to view wildlife from inside the popular hides and multi-level Estuary Tower at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre from next Monday.
Government restrictions on closing indoor areas are lifted on May 17 so Slimbridge's indoor spaces will be re-opening, giving visitors the full wetland centre experience for the first time since last summer.
At Slimbridge, this includes 12 bird hides, Peng Observatory, Arctic Adventure exhibit, Mesolithic hut, Flamingo Lagoon, Back from the Brink tunnel and Toad Hall.
Social distancing and other guidelines will be in place to keep everyone safe and will be observed across the site in all areas, including inside the hides.
Bookings for Slimbridge can be made on the centre's website. As numbers on site are still being restricted, all visitors are asked to pre-book tickets including those who visit for free such as members, children under four, and carers.
Gary Haseley-Nejrup, centre manager for Slimbridge, said there was a wide range of hides and other viewing platforms at Slimbridge, with something for everyone including families, photographers, keen birder-watchers or just anyone wanting to escape from the unpredictable British weather.
"We know how important the hides are to so many of our visitors and we can't wait for people to return to them," he said.
"As spring turns to summer, this is a fantastic time of the year to spot birds including swallows, house martins and summer warblers. Listen out to the songs of chiffchaff, reed, sedge warblers and the distinctive call of the cuckoo.
"They'll be new life across the reserve, as well as colourful kingfishers and wading birds passing through on their migration. Our hides and observatories offer stunning close-up viewing opportunities as well as some of the best chances to get great wildlife shots.
"We have traditional wooden hides looking out onto views crammed with wildlife, larger discovery hides with comfortable seating. There is also our wonderful multi-level and fully accessible Estuary Tower with its own roof top terrace offering a panoramic view of the Severn Estuary. Our Guides in the Hides will also be on hand to provide a warm, friendly welcome, pointing out birds of interest and providing identification tips."
The hides are particularly loved by photographers who use them to capture breath-taking wildlife spectacles including courtship rituals, feeding young and preening. The water-side hides offer a variety of shot levels and close up opportunities.
The Slimbridge Reserve Team has worked hard to open up additional outdoor areas that are rich in wildlife, which will remain available for visitors. These include The Summer Walkway where you can venture out to the banks of the Severn Estuary, South Finger Reedbed, a new viewpoint next to the Van De Bovenkamp hide and an outdoor viewing slot of the Rushy Lake.
For refreshments, Slimbridge's kiosks will be open for a selection of hot and cold food, snacks, drinks and ice cream for you to enjoy to fuel your wetland adventure.
To find out more and book tickets please visit wwt.org.uk/slimbridge
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