I’ve been hoping to meet an otter for a very long time. There are often sightings in the rivers near me. However, I seem to be walking otter repellent or the otters are just scared of my photographer (I don’t blame them). As I was getting sick of several failed adventures, so with the help of wrinkly human I found a great place to visit. Washington Wetland Centre is a slice of nature a stones throw from Sunderland City Centre.
I can’t believe there is a safe haven for the animals here. However, some animals don’t stay all year round so you can visit lots of times and make new friends. I visited at the end of the summer (August) and had no idea who I would find. It costs £10.45 for adults, concessions are £8.90 and carers assisting visitors with disabilities are free.
As I was visiting with wrinkly human, we decided to buy a bag of bird seed. There are special areas in the park where you can feed your feathery friends. I started my visit with a trip to the duck pond where the birds were waiting for a mid morning snack. My personal highlight was the black swan, I never knew they existed, having a wash and soaking everyone who went near. Sadly my photographer didn’t get splashed as they were too busy making friends with a small goose. Honestly, this goose followed my photographer around half of the wetland centre.
The second area where you can feed the birds allows you to get up close and personal with the ducks and moor hens. I loved this part as the birds weren’t scared at all and they had lots of space to walk and swim around.
From this area I decided to take the longer path which looped around to the bird hides and the river side (where the otters are rumoured to be). The walk in itself is beautiful as you can see for miles and Penshaw Monument stands in the background. However, it is quite a hike to the first bird hide but is definitely worth the walk. I saw more types of birds in one hour than I have seen all year. The absolute highlight was the great spotted woodpecker who was posing on the tree.
I also had a lot of fun spotting some Eurasian bullfinches, squirrels and a sparrowhawk flying in the distance. I could have sat there all day but I wanted to try and spot as many birds as possible.
Through the gate took me to the bird hide which looked onto a large lake near the riverside. I was going to miss this one as I thought I’d only spot some seagulls. I’m happy my photographer made me go inside. There were a lot if pied advocets plodging and an arctic tern who was fishing.
Sadly the huge grey heron was doing a snooze on their nest just too far from view. Inside each of the hides were photographs of the birds with their names and information about them. I learnt a lot because I had never seen some of these birds before.
It was such a beautiful day I decided to walk about a mile along the riverside which led you back to the other side of the wetland centre. It is a nice flat walk which is incredibly peaceful. There are a few ponds scattered along this route. I was happy to spot lots of boreal bluet damselflies and a broad-bodied chaser dragonfly. I love spotting blue creatures.
I continued along the rivers riverside where I found a giant frog and some footprints in the mud at the side of the river. I think they were from otters but there were no animals anywhere to be found. Continuing up the hill through the ancient woodland, I headed back to the final three enclosures.
The first enclosure was full of flamingos which I had a lot of fun watching. They were wandering around the enclosure in their group. I love how they travel together in a way which looks like a dance. Sadly,the flamingos didn’t stay long as it was time for lunch.
So I headed to the final enclosure which didn’t contain birds,it contained something better. Otters. The family of three Asian short-clawed otters are fully of energy and I stopped by just as they were being fed.
They are such inquisitive and friendly animals. I loved seeing how they used things around them to make eating lunch easier, even if the fish heads grossed me out. I could have watched them swimming and running around for hours but it was time to head home after a great day out.
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