Exploring our wetlands in the rain

While wet weather can be a little off-putting, it can actually make for a perfect rainy day adventure!

With lots of things to see, smell and listen out for, there's so much to explore in our woodlands and wetlands during a downpour - and you'll probably have much of the outdoor space to yourself!

So if you're planning a visit or are already here and the heavens open, see it as an opportunity to try some of these rainy day activities...

  • Watch our cheeky Asian short-clawed otter family as they swim, splash and play. These entertaining animals can regularly be seen enjoying a mooch in the rain before heading to dry out in the warmth of their holt.
  • Damp days provide great conditions for seeing a range of insects. Venture into North Wood or Hollowood and see if you can spot any hard-shelled woodlice (did you know they shed their skin as they grow!?), leggy millipedes, wriggly earthworms or slimy slugs on your travels.
  • Our collection birds always entertain, but there's something serene about watching them splash and preen in the rain (red shoveler in Close Encounters are a particularly good one to look out for as shown in this great photo by volunteer Ian Henderson)!

Red shoveler Ian Henderson 966x644.jpg

  • Our reedbed shelter has gorgeous views up towards Penshaw Monument, but there's also lots to hear too. Listening ears on chiffchaff, sedge warbler and reed wardbler calling within the reeds at this time of year.
  • Our wetlands have lots of different plants around the path edges as well as an array of flowers including oxe-eye daisies, foxgloves and forget-me-not (they look great with water droplets on the surface and make for great photos, like this image of a poached egg plant by John Preston). See if you can find three different species and ID them!

Poached egg plant.jpg

  • Wader Lake is a great place to hide from the rain, with a choice of waterside hides. Hunker down and enjoy easy views of a range of birds including grey heron, common tern, avocet and red-listed lapwing.
  • Our dragonfly ponds are full of life during summer and the rain doesn't deter various dragonflies and damselflies. See pond skaters and water spiders just on the water's surface, while water boatmen and daphnia (water fleas) swim just below.
  • Try your hand at photography, looking for ripples in the water and reflections that give your work an edge (and share these with us please...we'd love to see them!).
  • Make some natural art - this could be using leaves and sticks to make shapes and patterns or adding leaves to puddles and making them dance. The natural world (and your creativity) is all you need!
  • Let's not forget our Junior Wetland Rangers activities - pick up a trail map and complete the challenges, or take part in our daily ranger-thmed activities!
  • And of course, everyone's favourite rainy day activity...throw on your wellies and see who can do the biggest puddle jump! Then warm up with a well-earned brew or tasty hot chocolate from our cafe before you head home.

Happy splashing!

Puddle jumping splash - WWT stock 966x644.jpg

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