Taking part in wildlife activities can benefit children in a number of ways. Here, we round up some of the best places for spotting animals and birds this Easter
Now that the Easter holidays are here, families all across the UK are going to be looking for fun things to do.
Indoor attractions have yet to re-open, but rather than see that as a negative, look upon it as an opportunity to spend time outside enjoying the best that nature has to offer. The natural world and the creatures that live in it are a gift to us all, but children in particular can benefit hugely from being in the great outdoors.
In a recent study conducted by The Wildlife Trusts in conjunction with University College London (UCL), young kids who spent time outdoors participating in nature and wildlife activities reported a number of positive emotions.
“Contact with the wild improves children’s wellbeing, motivation and confidence,” commented Nigel Doar, The Wildlife Trusts' director of strategy. “Our data also highlights how children’s experiences in and around the natural world led to better relationships with their teachers and classmates.”
To help you and your children make the most of your natural environment this Easter, we've selected five of the best animal-themed attractions – and at the bottom of the page we direct you towards some fun wildlife-based activities that kids can take part in at any time of year.
1. Eastern Moors, near Sheffield, Yorkshire
Managed by the RSPB and the National Trust, this breathtaking wilderness on the edge of the Peak District is home to a vast array of animal species. On a good day, you might spot magnificent red deer grazing alongside racing hares, badgers burrowing in the woodland, and water voles splashing in the streams. Eastern Moors' status as a Special Protection Area (SPA) reflects the fact that it's also a breeding ground for rare birds, including the short-eared owl, the golden plover and the mountain blackbird. You might want to take your bincolulars.
Find more RSPB sites by visiting the organisation's website.
2. Brede High Woods, near Battle, East Sussex
“I'm bored” are two words you wouldn't expect to hear during a visit to Brede High Woods. Managed by the Woodland Trust, this breathtaking reserve in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is packed with things to see and do. Look out for scarcely seen wildlife including rare beetles and glowworms, listen to the call of woodcocks and nightingales, and get up close and personal with some of the UK's most stunning butterflies. With over 600 acres to explore, no two visits are likely to be the same.
Find more Woodland Trust sites by visiting the organisation's website.
3. Eyarth Rocks, Ruthin, Denbighshire
If butterflies make your kids' hearts flutter, then this hilltop reserve in North Wales needs to be tapped into your sat nav. No fewer than 32 of the 34 species known to occur in the region have been observed at the site, which is being carefully managed by Butterfly Conservation to protect the threatened Pearl-Bordered Fritillary variety. Your little ones will also love the names of some of the plants that grow here, including the Moonwort and the Hound's Tongue. To add a bit of excitement to your visit, why not have a race to see who can spot them first!
Find more Butterfly Conservation sites by visiting the organisation's website.
4. Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire
The National Trust's oldest nature reserve has been delighting wildlife lovers for decades. Take the Adventurers' Trail through this stunning wetland area and you can expect to catch sight of rare Konik ponies, water voles and hen harriers among the 9,000 species that reside here. Once you've completed the route, head to the takeaway café for a well-earned hot chocolate and a snack. Note that Wicken Fen is especially popular during the Easter weekend, so you'll need to book your timed entry before you arrive.
Find more National Trust sites by visiting the organisation's website.
5. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
You would expect an attraction named after wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough to be good, and this Nottinghamshire reserve doesn't disappoint. Managed by The Wildlife Trusts, it offers many different paths for little nature lovers to explore, including a tufted duck trail, a skylark trail and a kingfisher trail. Other species that inhabit this spectacular complex of flooded former gravel pits and islands include goosanders, oystercatchers and peppered moths. See how many of them you can spot!
Find more Wildlife Trusts sites by visiting the organisation's website.
Wildlife activities for kids
Whether you go for a day out at one of the UK's many wildlife reserves or stay in your local area, there are lots of wildlife activities that the kids can take part in to stimulate their interest and help with their learning. This RSPB web page features a wide range of games, challenges and craft projects, from counting your wild miles to building a hedgehog café. And there's something to suit all age groups.