If you follow the meandering River Windrush that flows through the pretty village of Bourton-on-the-Water, you’ll come across a popular attraction set in nine acres of gardens and woodlands.
Birdland Park and Gardens
Birdland Park and Gardens aren’t huge in comparison to say, its neighbour the Cotswolds Wildlife Park, but it certainly packs a punch in terms of activities, species of birds, small wildlife, a nature reserve and the park’s newest addition – Jurassic Journey. It also has several experiences, even giving children 14 years and older the chance to be wildlife keepers for the day.
There are over 140 species of exotic birds from penguins and flamingos to pelicans and ostriches. There are also 50 aviaries as well as a desert and temperate house for birds who thrive in warmer climates.
The first main enclosure that we came across was the Humboldt and King Penguins. Monkey got pretty close to them – even watching them swim through the viewing window. Unfortunately, we had just missed the Penguin feeding display which happens daily at 2.30pm.
We spent some time just looking at the different aviaries and then stopping for a while to watch the ostrich family strolling around their large pen and ignoring the gardener who was trimming a hedge! But it was then that Monkey spied an ‘abandoned’ jeep – and before we knew it, he had climbed on top of it!
Jurassic Journey at Birdland Park
This marked the beginning of the park’s popular installation – Jurassic Journey – an exciting trail that leads through the woods for young explorers to discover life-sized dinosaurs. Monkey was so excited when he spied the first dinosaur footprint – which litters the Jurassic-themed pathway. It’s was a fun and interactive experience which allows visitors to learn about the 30 different dinosaurs on display from the Brachiosaurus to the mighty T-Rex, by not only finding them amongst the landscape but also with information plaques.
And, even, after we finished finding them all, there was another surprise – a Dino Dig, which allowed Monkey and several other children to play at being archaeologists and finding fossils hidden in the sand.
Our next stop after our Jurassic Journey adventure was to head to the tortoise pen – where there are several smaller animals roaming free including rabbits and parrots nestled on small perches. Monkey adored the tortoises and even though he was a little reluctant at first to touch one, he soon got over his nerves…
We also went inside to the Discovery Zone which is home to several amphibians, reptiles and a tarantula. We stayed a safe distance but there are several opportunities to hold a snake for instance, as well as talk to the Keeper who is on duty that day.
Even after all this, Monkey was still desperate to check out the adventure playground where he spent a good while climbing on the assault course and frames. But by this time, it began to rain and we felt like we had seen the majority of all that was on offer.
The Verdict of Birdland Park and Gardens
Birdland Park and Gardens are not too large that you feel you have to rush around in order to see everything, but it’s also not so small that you’re done within half an hour. If you time it right, there are also several feeding times and talks with the Birdland keepers – including the pelicans and flamingoes. So there’s a chance to really interact with the wildlife.
Monkey really enjoyed himself and the highlight for him had to be the Jurassic Journey. We went at a leisurely pace and were surprised at how we managed to spend nearly three hours there.
Birdland Park and Gardens are well worth a visit if you want to entertain the kids for a few hours in the fresh air in a fun and interactive environment. Not only are there plenty of opportunities to get near the birds and animals; but the dinosaur hunt is a creative way to get kids learning about the past. Which kid – or adult for that matter – doesn’t like a dinosaur!
Birdland Park and Gardens Rissington Rd, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 2BN Adults: £9.95; Kids £6.95; Under 3’s Free