Wetlands provide stunning opportunities for wildlife watching.
not take a few tips from the Nature's Calendar team? Try your hand at bird watching
and pond dipping.
habitat - great for birds|
Why not visit two of
the UK's top wetlands for nature watching this spring?
Bittern watching at Minsmere in Suffolk.
* Pond dipping at Shapwick Heath in
is an excellent place to hear and see Bitterns, one of the rarest and most secretive
of British birds.
Listen out for its distinctive call or 'boom' which sounds
like a fog-horn.
Here are a few top tips for Bittern watching:
* Keep very quiet - these birds are very shy.
When listening out for the birds, cup your hands around your ears like a loudhailer
- this will amplify the sound.
* Bitterns can
be seen flying low over the reed beds so take your binoculars.
Sometimes it's easier to see them from a slightly higher vantage point in a bird
hide. Check out the RSPB's Bittern hide.
Heath in Somerset is a good place for pond dipping during the spring months.
Nature's Shapwick leaflet and site map
However, many wetland areas also
offer dipping fun so here's some top tips on making the most of your visit:
Drop the net into the water gently and make only small movements. Don't create
too much disturbance in the water. This will enable a good mix of species to be
washed into your net for examination.
a fine net with a long pole. Make your own by stretching a pair of tights over
an old tennis racquet. Or buy a professional net from an outdoor shop.
Pond dipping is potentially dangerous on slippery wetland areas so take a friend
in case you fall in.
* Look out for the following
wetland residents in your net - Great Pond Snails and the Lesser Silver Diving
* Don't forget to put the creatures
back where you found them once you've studied them.
Why not enrol on the pond dipping course and get expert advice on identifying
the local aquatic creepy crawlies.
Thanks to the RSPB and c/o Ian
Barlthorpe for Minsmere images.