The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales,
Last week I took the girls to the Wildlife Trust Centre in Cilgerran. I have been coming here for 2 years, and each time we visit I fall in love with the site a little bit more.
I parked the car and unpacked all of the many,many bags I now need when travelling out with a toddler and baby. Somewhere in the wood behind I could here the tak-tak-tak-tak of a woodpecker drilling away at a tree. Once I had unloaded the girls and paid the parking fee (£3 all day, free if Trust member, not too shabby) we headed up the short, buggy friendly path to the visitors centre. This is an impressive structure spread over 3 floors. It houses a shop and a glasstop café (as well as the loo!). You can wander right out from the café onto a meadow overlooking the Teifi Marshes and Cardigan town centre. There is a nice children’s corner full of colouring activities, and a comfy Seal cushion to sprawl on whilst watching the world go by.
The shop also has ‘activity backpacks’ available to hire, and as the girls were in a good mood I decided we should try one . They don’t cost very much at all (£3 with a £10 deposit) and are full of things to occupy little Naturalists. You could spend a whole day just completing the 8 activities, never mind using the rest of the kit! The activities range in difficulty from toddler friendly ‘crown making’ and bark rubbing to more advanced wildlife spotting and geocaching . We had the choice of the camo or a blue backpack, C opted for the ‘authentic look’! We took our kit up to the picnic area and spread the contents out on a table. I had a quick look through the activities and decided which were most appropriate for today. The activities range in difficulty from toddler friendly ‘crown making’ and bark rubbing to more advanced wildlife spotting and geocaching . C immediately claimed the binoculars and magnifying glass for herself, and we set off on our adventure.
From the sheltered picnic area we went to pay a visit to the giant willow badger. As we got closer I noticed something sitting on his nose- a hand knitted bee. It had a label attached to it, which rather reminded me of Paddington bear!
We dutifully followed the instructions, and C carried the bee down the hill in her imaginary ‘ambulance’, complete with ‘nee naw’ siren!
At the bottom of the hill the path splits, with one trail heading off to the river. We took the other fork, following the ‘Explorer trail’. At 0.75km this seemed the most toddler and buggy friendly option.
It still took quite a long time as C kept stopping to examine things with her magnifying glass. We looked at leaves, twigs and even an ant up close. I spotted a blob of ‘Cuckoo spit’ on some plantain. This frothy liquid is produced by the nymph stage of Froghopper insects, and despite its name has nothing to do with Cuckoos.
The path winds through a blackthorn coppice and some deciduous woodland. Eventually you get a fantastic view over the whole of the Teifi Marshes before returning to the car park.
We weren’t finished yet. C was pestering to go to the adventure playground, so we trundled off along the drive. The playground could fill an afternoon in itself. C and F spent ages on the slides, clambering on the wooden balance beams and popping in and out of the tree house. Eventually they had had enough, and we decided it was time to visit the pond.
By now F was asleep in her buggy, and with C contentedly munching on raisins I settled on the jetty to take some photos. Whirlygig beetles careered across the surface like miniature dodgems.Metallic flashes of blue and red whizzed between the reeds, damselflies . Most of the blues seemed to be flying solo, but the Large Red Damselflies were locked together. Damselfly mating is a tricky and acrobatic affair.The male holds on to the front of the female (prothorax), whilst she curls herself around his reproductive organs. The shape their bodies form is called a ‘mating wheel’.
I managed to take a few semi decent photos (and got one foot a bit soggy trying to get a ‘macro shot’) before JoJo started to stir .It was time to head back to the visitor centre and hand in the rucksack. It had been an eventful day, and both girls were asleep before we pulled out of the car park. Bonus!
For info on how to get here go to the Wildlife Trust website.