Fireside Feasts and Bat Hunting

A rare chance to see WWT London Wetland Centre at dusk

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During the day visitors to WWT London Wetland Centre are used to seeing the reserve alive with birds, dragonflies, frogs and butterflies. But when the people go home the animals don’t leave too. In fact, dusk is the time when some creatures actually begin their ‘day’. Bats swoop over the reserve hunting for insects, moths come out in droves and lapwings feed during the night as it provides cover from predators.

Not many people are privileged to see the nocturnal comings and goings of London Wetland Centre’s night-time inhabitants. But on Thursday, 2 June a group of young people from Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability (HAFAD) participated in a Night Safari at this 105 acre wildlife reserve.

Throughout the evening the youngsters learned how to make a fire and then enjoyed an evening of storytelling around the flames. After a ‘midnight’ feast around the fire they headed over to Pond Zone to take part in a special session of twilight pond dipping, using nets and an underwater camera, to see what mini-beasts were lurking beneath the surface at dusk. The group then swapped pond life for aerial acrobatics when they took part in a bat walk at 9.00pm. Seven species of bat are found at London Wetland Centre and the children were given bat detectors so they could hear these amazing flying mammals ‘chattering’. Using bat detectors it is possible to differentiate between the bats’ social calls and the echolocation they use to forage for food.

HAFAD won their Night Safari to London Wetland Centre as part of a competition run by the Centre’s education team, sponsored by The City Bridge Trust. Groups were invited to take part in an art competition and HAFAD were selected as the winners. Continuing the artistic theme, as part of the Night Safari activities the children will also be making badges to take home with them as a souvenir of their visit.

Another Night Safari was held on Friday, 27 May, also sponsored by The City Bridge Trust, when a class from Alma Primary School participated in similar events but were taught how to build their own dens instead of pond dipping. Key Stage 2 and 3 classes from disadvantaged schools which visited London Wetland Centre during Spring Term 2011 were invited to design a poster about their visit. 26 children from Alma Primary School spent an exciting evening tracking down bats and constructing dens.

Your chance for a night time adventure

If your children would like to participate in a Night Safari at WWT London Wetland Centre sign up for one of the public events on 18 and 24 August. Join in the challenge of building your own den and making a fire. The evening starts at 6.30pm with badge making and ends with a dusk bat walk, finishing at 9.30pm. This is a rare opportunity to see London Wetland Centre during twilight hours. Spaces are limited to 15 children per event (each accompanied by one adult) and the event is suitable for children aged 7 or over. The cost is £20.00 per child and the accompanying adult is free. Booking is essential and the price includes admission to the Centre after 6.00pm.

June 3, 2011