At our Center Parcs Villages we offer more than 200 activities across a range of areas. As the weather improves and the sun starts to shine, our nature activities are immensely popular. And, if you’ve seen our Ecosystem of a Pond infographic, you’ll know that there’s always plenty to see, whether it’s newly laid frogspawn or small fish and dragonfly larvae.
To discover more, I visited Sherwood Forest to follow Family Pond Dipping to see what it’s all about. Luckily for me, there was one place left!
Very simply, guests taking part are given a net and a tray of clean water, as well as a spotting sheet to verify what they’ve found. You stand on the sturdy wooden platform and dip the net into the pond, dragging it through the water to see what you can catch. After pulling the net back in, you then tip it into the tray of clear water to identify what you may have found.
Educational Ranger, Craig Giblin says: “This is a really popular activity; it’s mostly families with young children but we do occasionally have older families and couples taking part. We’re lucky to have such a rich and diverse ecosystem at Sherwood Forest, so there’s always plenty to find during this activity.”
I caught up with one of the families joining in today. Dan and Jack Chenery, 5, of Newport, South Wales, are hard at work. “We’ve found lots of bits and bobs,” says Jack, excitedly showing me his tray.
Dan tells me they’re finding much of the same thing, a small, brown aquatic insect called Water Boatman, according to his spotting sheet. “Yes! We’ve found another Water Boatman!” says Jack. “This one is called Jerry.”
Along the wooden platform I speak to The Page family, including dad and mum Joanne, who are all gathering around a net to see what daughter Ashleigh, 8, has found. It’s not in the spotting sheet, so Craig comes to the rescue with his expertise. “It’s a swan mussel,” he says.
Craig explains: “Swan mussels are of great benefit to pond life. They act as a natural filter, feeding off debris and other small organisms.” Ashleigh and her brother Oliver, 5, continue to delve for aquatic gold and – to her amazement – Ashleigh comes up trumps again, with not one, but two more mussels!
Craig says: “The mussels can be quite weighty and are normally found deep in the ground – so Ashleigh has done a great job in finding three of them.”
Pond dipping is a fun family activity as well as being educational. Mum Joanne says: “It’s tied in nicely actually as Ashleigh is doing a science project on pond life and such. She’s going on a class trip for it so she will be able to share stories and pictures of how she found three mussels!”