Pete Hughes of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) on the chance to discover your inner dinosaur and more.
Have you ever wondered what it was like when dinosaurs walked in Oxfordshire? Now is your chance to find out. This February half term, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is inviting families to walk its dinosaur trail at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre, just outside Didcot.
Visitors can explore the winter nature reserve, discover the secrets of the wildlife that survived when the dinosaurs became extinct, take part in dinosaur-themed activities, and then warm up by the stove in our classroom and make a craft to take home.
The trail is aimed at families with children aged four to 11, but younger siblings are welcome to join the fun. Entry will be £5 per child and the event runs from 10am-2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of half term – 13-16 February 2023.
For older nature lovers, meanwhile, the education centre is hosting a different kind of event on the Friday of half term: a teen practical conservation day. Running from 10am to 3pm, this event gives 13-to-17-year-olds a chance to have a go at the kind of work that BBOWT staff and volunteers do all-year-round. Tasks will depend on the weather, but could include anything from pond maintenance to coppicing, willow hurdle making and scrub bashing. All tools and equipment will be provided, and full instruction on safe tool use will be given.
This event is a great chance to meet other nature enthusiasts, but also make a real contribution to local conservation on this nationally important site for great crested newts. This is also ideal for any teenager who is interested in the world of conservation and who would like to get a great addition to their CV. For the small price of £25 per person, we think this event offers great value for money.
If the end of half term and the thought of going back to school gives you the winter blues, then beat them away by joining our wild winter walk in Bicester on Sunday 19 February. As part of our Wild Bicester project helping people connect with nature across the town, we will be leading a gentle stroll around Bure Park from 10am to 11.30am, discovering some of the fascinating urban flora and fauna to be found. It's a family-friendly event, but children under 16 will need to be accompanied by an adult. It's also completely free - we just ask that people book themselves in on our website so we know how many to expect.
In addition to all of these events, we also have a host of half term fun happening around the lake at our beautiful Nature Discovery Centre near Newbury, at our flagship College Lake visitor centre near Aylesbury and at the Windsor Great Park education centre.
You can find out more about all our events and book your place at bbowt.org.uk/events but of course you don’t need to book to discover wonderful wildlife! Our 80+ nature reserves across the three counties are open all day every day and offer a great day out at any time of year.
Our biggest reserve in Oxfordshire is Chimney Meadows – a sprawling patchwork of floodplain meadows stretching over 308 hectares on the banks of the River Thames. This is a great reserve for spotting wetland birds like iconic curlew with their downward-curved beaks, but make sure to bring your wellies – it can get very wet in winter.
Dry Sandford Pit near Abingdon, meanwhile, is a maze-like network of woodland trails and open grassland. At this time of year, it’s a great site for discovering the microscopic world of weird and wonderful lichens and mosses. Did you know that we have more than 1,800 species of lichen in the UK? Take a magnifying glass and turn a winter walk into a treasure hunt, seeing how many types you can spot.
Wildlife can also be found even in the heart of the city: our Iffley Meadows nature reserve in Oxford is home to a famous population of snake’s-head fritillary flowers. These bloom in April, but in February you can look out for green woodpeckers, tawny owls and a host of songbirds. At CS Lewis Nature Reserve in Headington – named after the world-famous fantasy author who lived nearby – you can see more waterfowl on the pond, and you might even spot a frog or toad emerging from hibernation early.
Find out more about all these nature reserves, how to get to them, and the wildlife you can find there at bbowt.org.uk/nature-reserves.