Pond Dipping at Warnham Nature Reserve & Southwater Country Park

Pond Dipping: Monkey loves pond dipping ever since trying it out at Arundel Wetland Centre just after Kipper was born. Many places offer the activity but our only issue is that inevitably we are already busy on the time or day its available. Ive also found local to us those places that do offer it are not consisitent. We have been caught out thinking it was on only to discover its not leaving one upset little boy. So when we were offered the chance to review a Pond Dipping kit from the Green Board Games Company I wondered if this would be the end to our woes.

We headed over to Warnham Nature reserve to test it out. The reserve itself is popular with many a bird watcher and wildlife photographer. Warnham nature reserve is run by volunteers and has a little cafe at the entrance which sells a selection of snacks and hot and cold drinks. Its very reasonable although the chocolate bars tempt the kids on the way in. There is both inside and outside seating, inside there are toys and books to keep the little ones entertained. To enter the reserve its £2 an adult, children are free. In the centre there is a large lake which you can not really get access to, but with lots of hides around the outside.
It also has a millpond plantation which I thought would be the perfect place to engage in. A but of pond dipping. We have visited before with puddle suits as Monkey loves to splash! Theres a maze of criss crossing raised wooden paths across the reed bed. The perfect place for pond dipping …or so I thought. Its obviously been uncharacteristically dry this year. To get to the millpond area you need to walk around the whole reserve, the terrain is pretty even although you have to watch out for the odd tree root and muddy bit. Thankfully we had our new Omino Stroller which coped well and meant Kipper was happy to take it all in. It is bright red through so I am not sure that the wildlife photographers approved. Its a lovely walk amongst the woodland and we found loads of wild garlic. Monkey was really interested by it so we picked a couple of leaves which we took home and added to our crustless quiche that afternoon.
And then we reached the Millpond Plantation… Monkey was very excited by the pond dipping kit, laying it all out on the decking. He couldn’t wait to give it a go. The only issue was that there was very little water! In fact many of the reed beds were bone dry. For a place which is normally wet and soggy most of the year round I was annoyed.  We still had a nice time eating our lunch on one of the benches but it did mean that Monkey hadn’t really got a chance to try out his new kit. I felt bad because for the next week he asked every morning if he was going to school club and if he wasn’t if he could try out the kit again.
So the following weekend we headed to Southwater Country Park, as they have a large lake with fishing jettys off of the side. We do love the park, visiting a lot in the Summer as there is so much to do there. Not only is it a great outside space but you can also hire canoes and kayaks.
Plus theres a cafe which sells ice creams and jacket potatoes and our much loved Dinosaur Park. The council has recently made the carpark pay and display to capitalise on the number of visitors the park gets. Other than that its completely free.
 As you can get right up close to the lake I knew we would be more successful. Monkey was in his element dipping the little green net in and having a swish around excited by what he may find. The kit also comes with a little notebook to write down what you find and a set of picture cards so that you can easily identify the mini beasts. Everything is reusable. The first thing that Monkey found was tadpoles! Needless to say this invoked a whole conversation about how frogspawn turns into tadpoles and then into frogs. It was very apt because he had brought a book home from school that week that showed the lifecycle of a frog. He wanted to take them home with him… Thankfully Hubby managed to distract him by finding some other creatures – water boatmen, whirly gigs and Mayfly larvae (thanks to the cards). It kept him entertained for well over two hours, I was astounded. He had such a great time, the perfect outside activity.
We had two lovely days out, okay so the first wasn’t exactly as planned. Yet we were still having fun as a family and making memories which I hope will stay with the boys for a long time. I am sure Monkey will always remember the first time he caught frogspawn. Personally I would much rather gift an experience and I know like many other mums I know, recieve one. if you would like to try one of these pond dipping kits out for yourself then they are available from various online retailers including Amazon.
So the kit did solve my woes and Monkey’s already talking about the next place we can go pond dipping… I think we will probably stick to the country park for the rest of the Summer. Is there anywhere close to you that you could go pond dipping?

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42 Comments

  1. Aleena

    Wow, I love this!! (I’m easily pleased!!) Literally off right now to Amazon a kit for Amelia! Looks like Monkey enjoyed his kit no end. xx #BloggerClubUK

  2. Briony

    Monkey is looking really grown up all of a sudden! We love a bit of pond dipping, it’s really good fun and keeps L occupied for hours. I might get him a proper kit, I think he’d like that #bloggerclubuk

  3. keepmum

    Ah such a great post- he certainly looks like he enjoyed it.
    Pond dipping isn’t something I’ve done before, might look into these kits.
    #bloggerclubuk

  4. Jemma Willson

    Wow, we’ve never done pond dipping before-and we love our local nature reserve-even with its lack of pond. We should definitely find one as this looks like so much fun!
    #BloggerClubUK

  5. suz

    This looks a great day out. I’ve never thought of going pond-dipping with the grandchildren. Must try it. Thanks for sharing
    #BloggerClubUK

  6. Sarah - mud cakes and wine

    What a lovely kit. My boys often go pond dipping at school but would be great to do as a family #bloggerclubuk

  7. naomi

    omg this looks so fun!! I really want to take my LO pond dipping, he’s just got interested in bugs, but he’s only 1.5 years old! #bloggerclubuk

  8. Five little doves

    Ahh this sounds so much fun, I know my kids would love this kit! When I was younger we would hunt for frogspawn and watch as they changed to tadpoles and frogs, but we just used an old bucket usually! I wish we had a fancy kit like this then, I’m definitely going to take my children pond dipping after this!

  9. Fiona Cambouropoulos

    I’m glad you got to test your pond dipping kit properly on the second stop. Tadpoles are always good value and they seem to have lasted for ever this year. We’ve moved from tadpoles to toadpoles (if that is even a thing?) but it is a great chance to talk about the frog life cycle. If you are out near a lake in the evening you may even spot some frogs now. Looks like you found plenty of life around the pond and what a handy looking kit already set up to use. I love games like this. I bet your wild garlic was lovely in your quiche too, I’m just hunting round for our last bits ont he farm now.

    Thank you for sharing your pond dipping fun on #CountryKids

  10. Cassie Mayers

    What a brilliant thing to help children learn about nature 🙂 I always loved doing this like this when i was a child. Cant wait to try something like this with Lily. What a good piece of kit and looks like he loved catching the frogspawn #CountryKids

  11. Colette

    What a great little kit – and such a fabulous way to learn. I remember pond dipping myself as a child, I think our school had a pond!
    Thanks for sharing your review on #TriedTested this week x

  12. Emma T

    We used to love pond dipping as kids but it’s one thing we’ve never done with N. We have a pond on the farm, but you can’t get next to it safely enough. We’ve just discovered country parks near us, so maybe we should try it at one of those #countrykids

  13. pinkoddy

    We have only been with fishing nets but never actually pond dipping. We have a Brook nearby we could use. That kit looks really good, I will have to check it out. #countrykids

  14. tracey at mummyshire

    Aww…. it looks like he’s so close to the water in that photo!!
    Your little Monkey looks really absorbed with his catch (second time lucky!!)
    My children aren’t fans of pond dipping – they had an incident with some rather squishy

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