I grew up in West Sussex, not far from the beautiful town of Arundel.
I have fond memories of travelling up the River Arun, stopping off at the Black Rabbit for lunch, charging around Swanbourne Lake and visiting the Arundel Wetlands Centre in the hope of spotting my favourite ducks.
We last visited the Wetland Centre in August 2015, but we have been itching to return to see the ducks in all their colours and hopefully some ducklings too.
Arundel Wetlands Centre is home to exotic ducks, rare geese and water voles. Make sure you go armed with some 20p’s for the duck food machines as this is always one of the highlights of our visit and Isaac and Eliza were bravely hand feeding the ducks.
Sebastian on the other hand, was happy to through the food to them in the water.
Once we managed to tear them away from the feeding area, we strolled along the pathways in search of more wildlife to see as well as 16 giant rubber ducks for the chance to win a chocolate treat. It wasn’t long before we spotted our first raft of ducklings in the water.
The great thing about Arundel Wetlands Centre is the sheer variety of things to see. You can explore the lakes, reed beds, channels and waterfalls which all support a rich array of British wildlife favourites as well as a large and varied collection of international wildfowl, many of them under serious threat in their native countries.
It also has a couple of children’s parks, which gives them the chance to run and play safely, away from the water.
The pond explorer station was open for pond dipping sessions at is was the school holidays and the kids couldn’t wait to get stuck in. The education team gave us a safety briefing and should us the best techniques to help net and identify pond mini-beasts from a spot on the boardwalk dock.
Once we had caught some mini-beasts we got a close up view when we magnified them under the video microscope!
We found and identified an Alderfly Larvae, a Pond Skater and a Ramshorn Snail.
Once we had finished examining our finds, we gently returned them back to the pond and carried on exploring, hoping to spot a water vole.
Sadly the water voles were in hiding for our visit, possibly as the kids were thundering along the paths, excitedly shouting when they spotted ducks on their nests or geese wandering around, followed by their goslings (or Goblins as Sebby calls them).
Another highlight of a visit is the Wetland Discovery boat safari. This trip lasts around 15-20 minutes and is included in the price of your admission.
On our journey the driver identified and pointed out the wildlife, plants, fish and insects all around us as the boat gently floated around the wet meadow, which has highest diversity of plant species on the reserve.
We spotted a few species of ducks but it was a Mallard duck with 9 tiny ducklings that caused the most excitement as they swam past the boat, with one that kept heading into the reeds.
Also dotted around the centre are lots of hides to explore and watch the activity on the lakes. They are all packed full of information on wildlife that have been spotted in the last few days.
You can easily spend a full day at the Wetlands Centre and there are facilities on site including a cafe, shop, toilets, picnic areas and activity stations for the kids.
This time of year is the perfect time to visit as all the ducklings and goslings are hatching and they wander freely around your feet and along the path……….one was even nibbling Callan’s shoelace at one point.
The ducklings are only just starting to hatch and they expect to see more and more throughout spring and in to summer. On our next visit we hope to spot a water vole and a kingfisher, I just to train the kids to be quiet!!