Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Days out in Central Scotland - Jupiter Urban Wildlife (Grangemouth)

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When I think of Grangemouth I think of Mordor.  Enormous petrochemical plants take up most of the town, with huge hulking chimneys topped with orange flames.  On a cloudy evening the entire sky glows a smoky orange on the other side of the Forth where Grangemouth lurks.

Having said all that, there is something in Grangemouth that has been arousing my curiosity.  Are you one of those people who loves a "brown sign"? (For those readers outside the UK, brown signs denote tourist attractions).  I love a brown sign, and make it a point of principle to have followed all the brown signs in my locality.  

In this case, I've not only seen signs for Jupiter Urban Wildlife, but I've also seen numerous mentions of it in the Scottish Wildlife Trust magazine, talking about the activities (particularly for children) which are going on there.  I had to go and check it out.

This afternoon we headed there from pre-school, taking a picnic and the dog.  It's a little off the beaten track, tucked away between a housing estate, industrial estate and a railway, but once you're following the brown signs you're okay.

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It's quite a little nature reserve, but really shows the amazing transformation that can be wrought on ex-industrial land.  While you're quite conscious of the urban and industrial sounds around the reserve, the birds really do their best to drown it out for you.  We chose one of numerous picnic benches dotted around the reserve, surrounded by meadow, trees and ponds and enjoyed a very peaceful picnic.  Then we explored the rest of the reserve.  I can imagine that if you sit very still and quiet at the right time of day, you'd be rewarded with all sorts of interesting wildlife.  I had a dog and two children, and we still spotted a heron and a lot of different birds.

Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre
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On this occasion we were just checking the place out and having a picnic, but I was pleased to see in the visitor centre (an incongruous porter cabin, toilets not great), that you can borrow pond dipping equipment and laminated spotters tick cards for wild flowers, trees, mini-beasts and pond life.  I would definitely consider coming again in the future for an afternoon spent spotting and pond-dipping, though would probably leave the dog behind as she thinks all ponds are for swimming in, and keeping her on the short lead was quite hard work.

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