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Discovering Wildlife and Exploring Nature with Your Kids in Oxfordshire

April 3, 2023

As parents, we all want our children to grow up with a love and appreciation for nature. Not only is it essential for their physical health and development, but being in nature can also have a profound impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing. If you're looking for ways to get your kids interested in wildlife and exploring the outdoors, there's no better place to start than right here in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the UK, from the rolling hills of the Cotswolds to the lush greenery of the Chiltern Hills. With so much natural beauty to explore, there are plenty of opportunities for you to introduce your children to the wonders of wildlife and nature.

Here are some of the best ways to discover wildlife and explore nature with your kids in Oxfordshire.

  1. Take a Stroll in the Countryside

One of the simplest and most accessible ways to get your kids interested in nature is to take them on a walk in the countryside. Oxfordshire has plenty of beautiful walking trails that are perfect for families, whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike.

Some of our favourite walks for families include the Thames Path, which follows the river from its source in Gloucestershire all the way to the sea, and the Chiltern Way, which offers stunning views of the Chiltern Hills. You could also visit one of the many country parks in the area, such as Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, which has a fantastic nature trail that takes you through a range of habitats, from meadows to woodland.

As you walk, encourage your children to keep an eye out for wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, and insects. You could also play games like "I Spy" or "Nature Bingo," where you have to spot certain plants or animals on the walk.

  1. Visit Wildlife Parks and Zoos

If your kids are really into wildlife, a visit to a wildlife park or zoo is a must. Oxfordshire has several fantastic options, including the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, which is home to over 260 different species of animals, from red pandas to rhinos. The park also has a fantastic children's farmyard where your kids can get up close and personal with friendly farm animals like goats and pigs.

Another great option is the Crocodiles of the World zoo, which is the only crocodile zoo in the UK. Here, you can see a range of crocodile species from around the world, as well as other reptiles and amphibians. The zoo also has a fantastic outdoor play area, where your kids can let off some steam after seeing all the animals.

  1. Explore the River Thames

The River Thames is one of the most iconic waterways in the UK, and it also happens to be a fantastic place to explore nature with your kids. You could take a boat trip along the river, or hire a canoe or kayak and explore the waterways at your own pace.

As you paddle along, keep an eye out for the wildlife that calls the river home, such as kingfishers, otters, and even seals (yes, really!). You could also stop off at one of the many riverside pubs and cafes for a bite to eat, or take a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

  1. Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Kids love a scavenger hunt, and what better way to get them interested in nature than to turn it into a nature-themed challenge? You could create a list of things for your kids to find, such as different types of leaves, flowers, or birds. Or you could use a nature scavenger hunt app or website, such as iNaturalist or Seek by iNaturalist, which can help you identify the plants and animals you come across.

As your kids search for the items on the list, encourage them to ask questions and learn more about the things they find. You could also take photos or draw pictures of the things you discover, and create a scrapbook or journal of your nature adventures.

  1. Visit a Nature Reserve

If you want to introduce your kids to some of the most beautiful and diverse wildlife habitats in Oxfordshire, a visit to a nature reserve is a must. Oxfordshire is home to several fantastic nature reserves, such as the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, which has some of the most stunning views in the Chiltern Hills, and the Otmoor RSPB Reserve, which is home to a range of rare and endangered bird species.

As you explore the reserve, keep an eye out for the different animals and plants that call it home. You could also take part in one of the many activities and events that are run at the reserves throughout the year, such as guided walks, birdwatching days, and pond dipping sessions.

Final Thoughts

Exploring nature with your kids is a fantastic way to spend quality time together!

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