“ Birdland Park and Gardens / Rissington Rd / Bourton-on-the-Water / Glos, GL54 2BN / Tel: 01451 820480 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org. „
For Christmas, my boyfriend bought me a weekend away in the Cotswold for me, my boyfriend and our two dogs. We actually stayed there last weekend. While we were there, we visited various attractions, one of them being Birdland Park and Gardens.
Birdland Park and Gardens is located in Bourton-on-the-Water which is an extremely picturesque town and the perfect location for this attraction. We parked in a pay and display car park which was about a 10 minute walk away from the entrance to Birdland, although we later found out that there is actually a car park right next door to Birdland itself so parking really shouldn't be an issue.
Birdland has seasonal opening times. It is open from 10am until 6pm from April until October and then opens from 10am until 4pm between November and March. Last admission is one hour before closing.
There are various ticket options which are as follows:
Adult - £5.25
Children - £3.25 (ages 4-14, under 4's go free)
OAP's - £4.25
Family - £15.50 (2 adult and 2 children)
I thought the prices were very reasonable as some other similar attractions charge anything up to £20 per adult.
Inside, the park is very scenic and is a pleasure to stroll around. Obviously, I can not remember every single bird that I saw at Birdland but I will tell you about the main attractions and the birds that I do remember.
Near to the entrance, where you pay for your tickets, there is a parrot aviary which consisted of two Macaw Parrots who had an indoor area which you could not see into, and a large outdoor aviary that had lots of wooden perches for them to climb over and lots of toys for them to play with. We were lucky enough that both of the parrots were in the outdoor area, so we got to see them and they both looked happy and healthy. Just past this aviary is another one which is slightly smaller. In here, there was an African Grey Parrot who again, looked very healthy.
When you enter the main park, the first thing you will see is the Penguin enclosure. Birdland is the only place in England that keeps King Penguins. As well as the King Penguins, there are also Humbold Penguins. I realty enjoyed the penguin section. We were lucky, as when we arrived, they were just beginning feeding time in the penguin section. This involved one of the keepers giving a very informative talk on the penguins and all the visitors were able to watch them being fed and interacting with the keeper.
The penguin enclosure was large and consisted of lots of rocks for them to walk over and also a swimming area. The swimming area had a see through front so you were actually able to see the penguins swimming under the water which was a lovely experience. Also in the enclosure was a shower which ran all the time and the penguin were actually queuing up and taking it in turn to stand underneath the shower.
While the keeper was giving his talk, the area did become quite crowded with people but there was still plenty of room for everyone to get a good view of the enclosure. There were rocks stacked upon each other outside the enclosure which visitors can climb on top of to get a better view of the enclosure. I thought this was a really good idea as it enabled children and small people like me a really good view.
There was also an owl section which I enjoyed because I find owls fascinating to watch. At Birdland you can see Eagle Owls, Snowy Owl and Hawk Owls to name a few. My absolute favourite from the owl section was the Burrowing Owl which was really small and looked really scrawny with long legs, I have been to many zoo's and parks like this but have never seen this type of Owl before so it was nice to see something that was totally new to me. All the enclosures for the owls were large, clean and very natural with trees growing inside the enclosures and lots of branches and places for them to hide away.
There were various Storks, Pelicans and Waterfowl around Birdland. These birds had large areas to live in, with some of the area being free flying, meaning that the birds can move around into other areas of the park. There are lots of rivers and streams that run through Birdland and these have been incorporated into some of the enclosures which allow the birds a natural habitat. You can see Flamingos, Pelicans, Storks and Ducks to name a few. There is a medium sized lake in the middle of Birdland and in here there were loads of rather large fish (which my boyfriend believes were Trout). Some of the fish were absolutely huge and you can easily see them swimming in the lake.
There are also a couple of Ostriches at Birdland and they had plenty of space with a large grassy area for them to scratch around in. We found that they were quite inquisitive and came over to you as you were stood to the side of the enclosure having a look.
There is a Desert House which is totally enclosed and inside it was really warm and dry. In here there were various birds which all live in naturally in a desert environment. Unfortunately I can not remember any of the names of the birds (although there were signs up inside the enclosure informing you of which bird was which). There is also a Tropical House which is about twice the size of the Desert House and in here are the birds that live in a tropical climate.
Last but not least, there was the Kookaburra who was probably my favourite bird we saw her. There was a sign on the side of the aviary informing visitors that if you growled or whistled at him, then he could do his call, which basically sounds like a loud cackle. We whistled at him and almost immediately he let out his call which I must admit sounds pretty funny and certainly gets the attention of anyone walking past.
There is a café at Birdland which is called the Penguin Café. It serves snack foods, as well as hot and cold drinks. We didn't eat in the café but we did take a quick look at the menu and saw that they sold lots of homemade items such as biscuits and cakes and they also served larger items such as filled jacket potatoes. Inside the café there were male, female and disabled toilets as well as a baby changing area.
There was also a children's play area which looked fairly new. There were two areas which consisted of climbing frames and swings etc.
I would definitely recommend a trip to Birdland if you are in the area. You would be pushed to spend a whole day at Birdland and you could lazily walk around here in probably around 3 hours but there are still plenty of different birds to be seen here.
The enclosures were all large and clean and you could tell that some effort had gone into each enclosure, trying to make it as close to the natural environment of the birds as possible.
On every enclosure there are information boards which visitors can read to find out more information about the birds you are seeing. The information boards told you things such as where the bird originates from and what it eats so I think this attraction is also quite educational.
Finally, another reason I liked this attraction, was because dogs are allowed in the park, although they must be kept on leads at all times.
Birdland Park and Gardens is in Bourton-on-the-Water, which I have been to many times. It is my favourite place in the Cotswolds and I practically go there every year. Yet I've never been to Birdland to my memory. I say this as I was informed that I had been there when I was a toddler. I'm hardly going to remember that though. Still I'd park right next to Birdland and walked passed it many times and thought it looked like it wouldn't be that good.
That was until recently. I went to Bourton-on-the-Water with my boyfriend and Gran. My Gran had been with me on many occasions but like me not been to Birdland (in her case it was never though!) and my boyfriend hadn't been there at all. After pottering about the village we decided to take a wander around it. The main reason being as my Gran can't walk far and is in a wheelchair and all the other attractions weren't suitable for wheelchairs.
Birdland is in the heart of the Cotswolds. Cheltenham, Oxford, Swindon and Stratford-upon-Avon are all within 30 miles. Anyone who enjoys the countryside will appreciate the scenery on the way. Certainly from the direction I come from it is really beautiful. Unfortunately there is no car park for Birdland but there is a pay and display car park right next to it. There is also a larger car park situated in Bourton-on-the-Water so finding a space shouldn't be a problem. However, saying that Bourton-on-the-Water does get really busy. We went on a Bank Holiday and I was surprised, as it wasn't as busy as I've seen it in the past.
On entering the park the first thing you see is the Penguins. After being to the Cotswold Wildlife Park which isn't far from here I knew that the Penguins would be the highlight for me. These Penguins are a different breed though. Birdland boasts that they have the only King Penguins in England, Wales and Ireland. They do have them in Edinburgh though so they can be seen elsewhere in Britain. The King Penguins are the second largest Penguins (the largest being the Emperor Penguins). The other species they have are the Humboldt Penguin and the African Penguin.
What I liked about it here was that they had an area that children or those in pushchairs or wheelchairs could see them clearly. There was also a ramp to enable this. Further down the length of the pool they actually had perspex so you could see the Penguins swimming under water. Although I'd seen Penguins swimming in water before I hadn't seen them at this angle and again I was amazed at the speed they swam.
In an area sectioned off from the main area were three Penguins. Two were chicks and one was the parent of one of them. There was a sign to say when they were born. If my memory serves me rightly then one was born in May and the other in June.
Later in the day we came back as they feed the Penguins at 2.30pm. We never got there early so it was hard to see, as there were already crowds. So if anyone is considering going and would like to see them fed then I'd advise you to get there early to get a spot at the front where you can see them. I wasn't hugely disappointed, as I'd seen penguins being fed before. There were also rocks that you could climb on to see over but I wasn't that interested and I thought knowing me I'd end up slipping and falling.
As the keeper feeds them he tells you about them. He had a microphone attached to him but it wasn't very clear. This could have been that I wasn't right at the front but where I was stood I still should have been able to hear what he was saying. I found myself having to concentrate on what he was saying and then after a while I gave up. I thought it could be that the microphone wasn't close to his mouth (or maybe too close) as he sound really muffled.
Throughout the park there are various aviaries containing different birds. I can't remember which was in everyone and if I could remember I'm sure telling you about all of them would make a boring read. So I'll mention some of what they have.
The first thing that I really want to mention is the Kookaburra. When we approached the aviary he (or indeed she) was sat on a branch with a dead mouse. This is obviously what they had just put in the cage to feed it. What was really funny was the fact that although it was dead the Kookaburra was bashing it against the branch as if he were killing it. Call me sick but I found this hilarious! The sign said that if you whistle or growl then it'll talk (or laugh!) back at you. So we tried this. I was whistling at it and he went to open his beak and then decided this was unwise, as he'd lose his mouse. He still let out a little noise though.
The Snowy Owls were also a pleasure to watch. I noticed two keepers go in and feed them so I dashed over to see how they reacted out of curiosity. I was surprised when they were alarmed at them entering their enclosure. They moved to the other side of the cage and only when they were gone did they venture over to see what was for lunch.
The Toucan House contains two different species of Toucans. It also has other related birds in with them. They are very pretty and one was flying around a bit and then another was doing the same. It was as if they were playing a game.
I kept getting the Cranes, Storks and Pelicans mixed up as they look very similar. The Pelicans are separate and are situated in the river away from the Cranes and Storks. All of these birds are rather big and impressive to look at. The Flamingos are all in a lake and had plenty of space. There weren't only pink ones, some were a lighter shade. Birdland has 3 of the 6 species of Flamingos. Nearby the Cassowary and Rhea (members of the Ostrich family) are large birds so they had a larger section. I don't really remember much about them but I did think they were Ostriches until I saw the sign.
As you can imagine certain birds need to be kept in a certain habitat. The Tropical House is heated to the temperatures that the birds and plants would be used to. As we entered I thought it would be really humid but it wasn't bad at all. I find heat effects me but I was ok in here. You walk round and can see the various birds. There aren't many and you have to look properly to see them all as they can hide quite well. Inside they have a waterfall which I'm assuming they've added to make it as natural as possible for the birds. This are is accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. The Desert House is much smaller than the Tropical House but still worth taking a look. In here there were several birds. I'd forgotten what they were but with the help of the website I can tell you they have Desert finch and Carmine Bee-Eaters as well as others (they didn't say). These birds are really small and it wasn't easy to spot them at first. You walk in through some doors and then you can view the birds from here. You can't walk about them as you can other areas.
We were very lucky and the day we went was a Bird of Prey Encounters Day. Looking at the website these aren't very often but if you are planning a trip then it would be worthwhile seeing if it was an Encounter Day. Unfortunately the dates they list online go from April to September. It could be that they haven't updated it but it does look like they tend to do this during the peak season. The birds are from the Cotswold Falconry Centre so this is the reason that they don't do this frequently. At Birdland on such a day there is an Owl (Bob), a Hawk (Tommy) and a Buzzard (I didn't catch his name). As we approached there were some people already there and the handler was telling them about the birds of prey. You also get a chance to hold the bird. You're given a glove and then he places the bird on your glove. There were many children who where delighted at this opportunity. My Gran was brave enough and she held Tommy for a bit. If I had done it I would have gone for Bob as I like Owls. I'm not sure what breed of Owl he was but he was huge to this is what put me off.
The park does have an active breeding programme. They try to raise public awareness through education. There is further information about their conservation on their website and you can also adopt birds from the website as well. So if you want to adopt an owl or penguin or know anyone else who would like to then it could make a unique present. There are actually 22 different types of birds you can adopt.
***Where to eat?***
The Penguin Café offers a small range of food. It isn't extensive by any means and is more for a quick snack than anything. We went in and had a cup of tea and toasted teacakes (well I had a doughnut mmm!) They were very nice and if I were ever there again I'd definitely pop in for a cuppa and a cake. They do have sandwiches and I saw then doing jacket potatoes and things like pizza slices. If you were after something more substantial then having something to eat outside of the Park would be better. In Bourton-on-the-Water there are many restaurants and pubs in which you can eat. However, if you are after a quick snack to recharge your batteries then this is ideal. There are seats inside and they have a small patio area at the back which have a few seats outside. We sat outside at the main entrance seeing as it was a nice day. There are also plenty of picnic areas if you wanted to take your own food with you.
It costs £5.20 for adults, £4.20 for Senior Citizens and £3 for Children (ages 4-14). Under 4s are free. You can get Family Tickets (2 Adults & 2 Children) for £15 or if you think you'll visit frequently then Season Tickets are available (Adults: £21 Children: £12 Senior Citizens: £17).
The park opens every day from 10am and is only closed on Christmas Day. Between April and October it closes at 6pm and between November and March it closes at 4pm. The last admission is one hour before closing. I wouldn't recommend that anyway as to get the full benefit you need about 3 hours.
***What did I think?***
I wasn't expecting it to be all that good but I really did enjoy myself. There isn't enough to see that you'd need to spend a full day there but there is plenty to see and do. I was surprised how pretty it was inside. The River Windrush runs through the seven-acre park and there are many trees, which make it a nice habitat for the birds. There are several wooden bridges that go over the lake and the river so manoeuvring around the park is very easy.
Overall it was an enjoyable day out. Children would have a great time so it is ideal for families with young children. They shouldn't get too bored, as it isn't that big. Having said that I was actually surprised how big it was inside though. As I said I'd walked past it many times and from the entrance it doesn't look all that big. It does go back quite a way though. We spend around 3 hours there and only left because we had to get back to the car. My Gran has a Blue Disabled Parking Badge and that entitled us to 3 hours free parking so we were limited. I guess we could have popped out and changed the time on it but we had seen anything by that point anyway and were ready to go home.
It wasn't overly crowded which was ideal as well. Whilst looking at the website I noticed that they do allow school visits so on other days it could be far busier or have big groups of children running around. As we visited on August Bank Holiday there were no school children about though.
There is plenty of information to read on boards outside the aviaries or outside the areas the birds were. They were interesting and told you interesting things about each bird and it included how endangered it was as well.
The park is wheelchair and pushchair friendly. It is mostly flat so it is easy to get around. Wheelchairs are available which are free of charge which I thought was rather good. Another thing worth mentioning is that dogs are allowed in all areas of the park but they must be kept on a lead.
For further info:
Birdland was first established in 1957 and was sited in the centre of Bourton.The current location was a trout farm and prior to that a Poplar Tree plantation There are still over 150 trees which create a high canopy for the River Windrush and enclosure. Birdland is a natural setting inhabited by over 500 birds; Flamingos, pelicans, penguins, cranes, storks, cassowary, and waterfowl can be seen on various aspects of the water habitat. Over 50 aviaries of parrots, falcons, pheasants, hornbills, toucans, touracos, pigeons, ibis and many more. Tropical, Desert and Toucan Houses are home to the more delicate species.