Birdland Park and Gardens are a great location for a family day out in the Cotswolds in the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Birdland is set in 9 acres of gardens and woodland and is home to a range of exotic and rare birds including flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, parrots, owls and penguins. One of Birdland’s most popular species is their Humboldt Penguins which greeted the arrival of spring by beginning to lay eggs. Humboldts incubate their eggs for about 40 days so new arrivals should be on the way in May. Birdland is also home to England’s only collection of King Penguins and a king penguin chick is currently very popular with visitors.
When planning your visit it is well worth planning to be there for the penguin feeding display (11am and 2:30pm) and the Flamingo Feed (11:30am) At 12:15am there is a chance to ‘Meet the Keeper’ and ask questions you may have about the birds. These sessions are great opportunities to find out more about the species. A recent reviewer on Trip advisor wrote, “Lots of birds to see, very well done. Make sure you go at a time coinciding with the Penguin’s feeding time, which is a joy to see and very educational.”
For more information about Birdland and to check opening times before a visit: http://www.birdland.co.uk/
For most people, the sight of the first daffodils, with their beautiful yellow heads is a sign that Spring has finally arrived. The poem Daffodowndilly by AA Milne sums it up well: She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: ‘Winter is dead.’
The wild daffodil, sometimes called the Lent lily due to the time it flowers, is smaller than garden cultivars, but as with snowdrops and bluebells, when flowering en masse is a beautiful sight. Depending on the weather, wild daffodils flower from mid March to April.
Whilst wild daffodils were once a common sight in England, over the years intensive agricultural practices has led to them becoming less common. In Gloucestershire, around the villages of Cymock, Kempley and Oxenhall, wild daffodils once carpeted the meadows, orchards and woods, and for this reason it is known as the Golden Triangle. Good conservation practices by local farmers and landowners, as well as the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has preserved some special sites where wild daffodils are still flourishing in abundance.
The Daffodil Way is a popular way to enjoy the wild daffodils in the Golden Triangle. The famous 10 mile circular walk takes you through meadows, orchards and woods. On the weekend of 14th and 15th March Kempley Daffodil Weekend takes place, with the Village Hall hosting teas and refreshements as well as walking tours.
Cotswold Water Park is home to a healthy population of otters, but it remained a mammal that I hadn’t ever seen in the wild…until yesterday morning. We had a magical time by one of the lakes on the Lower Mill Estate watching the otters diving for fish. There were four otters who were went about their fishing with our family being a very happy audience. We were amazed by the number of times they did synchronised dives. Enjoy watching some of the footage we took!
Huge congratulations to Dave Soons, local wildlife photographer whose photo of a short eared owl flying in the Cotswolds was BBC Earth’s photo of the day yesterday. Dave told BBC Earth, “It rained most of the day. The owls decided to come out when the sun came out, and luck have it the wind was blowing from behind me, it meant the owls were hunting face forward for once.”
Short eared owls have great eyesight even in low light conditions and have hearing keen enough to pinpoint small mammals in the undergrowth. Unlike other owls they hunt during the day as well as at dusk. They can often be seen flying in the Cotswold Water Park.
Over the last few month filming has been taking place for the film adaptation of JK Rowling's A Casual Vacancy. In all 6 Cotswolds Villages were used in the filming. These include Northleach and Painswick which were transformed into the fictional village of Pagford, where most of the action in the book takes place. Fans of Harry Potter will be pleased to know that Sir Michael Gambon, who played Professor Dumbledore in 6 of the Harry Potter films stars, playing the role of Howard Mollison, leader of the parish council. In the film, the tranquil Cotswolds scene with is rudely interrupted by an unexpected death. Also starring are Julia McKenzie (of Miss Marple fame) and Keeley Hawes.
The first episode of A Casual Vacancy will be aired on BBC 1 at 9pm on Sunday 15th February.
Where would you go to have bespoke miniature fishbowls made? Aardman Animations, creators of the wonderful Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep characters used Cotswolds based LoCo Glass. Nearly a year ago LoCo Glass announced that they had just finished making cute miniature goldfish bowls and that the next time we’d see them would be in the Shaun the Sheep movie with a plasticine fish inside. That time has come! Head to cinemas now to be enthralled by another amazing movie by Aardman. As one reviewer wrote, ” Smart, funny, big-hearted, endlessly inventive and quintessentially British, this timeless, stop-motion adventure is a shear delight from start to finish.” Sounds like great half term viewing.
LoCo glass work from the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester – you can visit their workshop to see them in action. For more information about them visit http://www.locoglass.co.uk/
Bourton-on-the-Water must be one of the most well known villages in the Cotswolds and one that few visitors to the area miss out. The pretty River Windrush meanders through the village and low bridges provide lots of photo opportunities. The River Windrush is a real focal point in the village – at Christmas the Christmas Tree is positioned in the River, while in August a football match takes place along the river. At other times it provides a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a picnic, or in the case of Liam O'Farrell, to paint.
Cotswold Farm Park are reopening following their Winter shutdown in time for Valentines Day and Half Term. The arrival of new lambs is always a great sign that Spring really is on the way!
The ewes at Cotswold Farm Park have been scanned and sprayed with coloured dots to indicate how many lambs they are carrying. This allows the ewes to be fed the right quantities of pellet food to ensure that multiple births aren’t too small and the single births aren’t too big.
Cotswold Farm Park opens on Saturday 14th February with their special 'Lambing Week'. As well as the fun of seeing the new arrivals, their will be craft activities and games for everyone to enjoy including a special lambing hunt.
A fabulous photograph of the Lower Mill Estate in Cotswold Water Park where Daisy Chain is. Cotswold Water Park itself covers an area of over 40 square miles and is made up of 150 lakes. You can see just a few of them here! The Lower Mill Estate is a private nature reserve and as such is a fantastic area for exploring – there are beavers and otters, kingfishers and egrets and that’s just for starters. When you’ve been out for a day exploring you can arrive back and pop to the Spa for a swim, or for the energetic enjoy a game of tennis first – there are two courts to choose from. While Mum and Dad are playing tennis they can watch the children enjoying the playgound and trampoline – or maybe they will chose to play football on the new 5-a-side pitch. Everything is so close…and yet Daisy Chain enjoys superb uninterrupted views across the largest lake on the estate, Somerford Lagoon. It makes a fabulous location for a fun filled family holiday.
10 years ago a complete skull of a woolly mammoth was found in a working gravel pit in Cotswold Water Park. Dr Hollingworth, a paleontologist, had visited the site to look for the remains of Ice Age mammals after discovering a bone fragment. As he walked across the gravel pit he saw a bit of bone sticking out. After a few minutes of concentrated digging he realised that he had found a complete skull. It took seven hours to carefully dig out and then four people to carry it. The skull is believed to have come from a female woolly mammoth who lived over 50,000 years ago. She would have weighed 3.5 tons and been 10 feet tall. Like all mammoths she would have travelled and lived in a group in cold dry grasslands and would have been an excellent swimmer. She would have eaten at least 400 pounds of vegetation every day! Woolly mammoths grew new sets of teeth as the old ones wore down, so during her life she would have had six sets of teeth. The skull is on display at the Gateway Visitor Centre at the entrance to Cotswold Water Park.