37. Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Slimbridge is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire on the estuary of the River Severn. Slimbridge was the first WWT reserve to be opened in 1946 by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott.

The Sloane Observation Tower gives far-reaching views to the Cotswold escarpment in the east and the River Severn and Forest of Dean in the west. The centre has a shop, restaurant, art gallery and Tropical House.

The site is 120 acres of reserve, of which 500,000 square metres is landscaped and open to the public.

The number of ducks, geese and swans is most significant in winter, with large flocks of white-fronted geese. Bewick’s swans are a feature of Slimbridge in winter, arriving from northern Russia to enjoy the milder climate of southern England. Birds of prey such as peregrine and merlin also visit the centre in the winter and wade birds and songbirds.

Jane Payne from Evesham, a regular visitor to Slimbridge with her family, said: “Slimbridge is a beautiful place to visit with birds in their natural habitats surrounded by grasses, flowers and other wildlife.

“The view as you enter with the swans is breathtaking, as is the view from the tower which overlooks the estuary.”

Her son, Paul Sparrow, added: “We are members at Slimbridge, and every visit is different. There are great displays of the amphibians and the otters, and the new flamingo area is absolutely amazing.

“The large selection of wildfowl is excellent, as is the great conservation work done with all the eggs that are being incubated to save certain breeds from becoming extinct.

“Due to the sheer size of the place, there are so many different places to visit. During the height of migration, when they feed the wild birds at dusk, that is a truly amazing sight.”

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust is one of the world’s largest and most respected wetland conservation organisations working globally to safeguard and improve wetlands for wildlife and people.