With holidays approaching, here are 10 fun and family-friendly activities recommended by nature experts –
As we head deeper into winter and the Christmas holidays approach, it can be tempting to stay at home under a blanket! But it really is a great time to get out into the countryside for fresh air, exercise, and to help the natural environment.
Here are 10 exciting activities recommended by the New Life on the Old West team that you can enjoy with family and friends across Cambridgeshire this winter. How many will you do? If you choose to get involved, tell us about it on social media using the #NewLifeOldWest – we’d love to hear from you!
- Decorate your garden with wildlife-friendly Christmas decorations. Why don’t you string together plain popcorn and cranberries to make a garland for the birds? Or smear pine cones in salt-free peanut butter or lard and dip in birdseed. Did you know that you can even share your Christmas dinner with wildlife? Check out this RSPB article for advice.
- Walk along the river at Ely, see if you can spot the peregrine falcons at Ely Cathedral and maybe enjoy a sneaky hot chocolate in the town! There’s a wonderful 5km circular route you can walk but even a simple stroll along the river banks can be enjoyable for children of all ages and abilities. Or you could try one of our New Life nature walks and let us know what wildlife you see!
- Visit Kingfishers Bridge Nature Reserve near Wicken to see what wildlife you can spot! Will you be able to find the reserve’s grazing Asian Water Buffalo? Don’t forget to take your binoculars to discover the wide range of birds which visit here each winter.
- Make a recycled bird feeder – here’s a great guide from the RSPB – and count how many birds visit in an hour. Can you name any of them? Did you have any surprise visitors?
- Take a waterfowl & wader safari! We’re lucky to have some amazing wildlife reserves nearby. Top tip – visit WWT Welney this winter to see thousands of over wintering ducks & majestic bewick and whooper swans. You can even watch them being fed!
- Build a home for wildlife and provide a safe nesting space for a range of species! Have a go at creating a bug hotel, hedgehog house – watch our video on YouTube – or bird box. If you’re lucky they may raise their young in there next year! Remember to keep an eye out but do not disturb wildlife homes if they are occupied. Visit the Wildlife Trust website for some great ideas.
- Take the little ones on a Percy the Park Keepers Winter Wander Trail at a National Trust property. If you’re a member, then for a small additional fee, the little ones can help Percy spot wildlife as they wander around the estates. Visit Wimpole Hall near Royston, Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge, or Wicken Fen near Ely.
- Visit the New Life On the Old West website and make a plan to join us in the New Year. You might enjoy tracking badgers, taking a self-guided nature walk, or joining a work party if you’re feeling active; digging a pond or planting hedges and trees. Everyone is welcome!
- Search for signs and sounds in your local area. Take some time to listen to bird songs when you are out and about – can you identify who is singing? As you walk, make sure you check along the path for tracks (footprints) of animals which have also walked the same route. Can you take plaster casts of any of the prints and identify them when you get home?
- Capture the wonders of winter. We love seeing your photos of the Cambridgeshire countryside! Share them with us using the hashtag #newlifeoldwest or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to keep any eye out for our next photo competition!
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, New Life on the Old West (NLOW) is a three-year programme delivering small-scale habitat improvements across the Cambridgeshire Fens, important strongholds for rare and threatened species.
If you’d like to become a volunteer doing something as simple as counting wildlife spotted on a monthly walk or supporting community activities, do get in touch via email@example.com
Whatever you choose to do this winter, have a happy, safe festive time!