Feathered friends, nature walks and monkey business
Trentham Monkey Forest
TAKE a walk on the wild side by strolling among 140 free roaming Barbary macaques – right here in Staffordshire.
Trentham Monkey Forest is set in 60 acres of Staffordshire woodland and meadows, where visitors are plunged into the fascinating world of the primates as they exhibit their natural behaviour with no bars or cages.
A three-quarter mile path leads animal lovers through the forest of the Trentham Estate, where the monkeys live. Here you can observe them behaving as they would in the Atlas mountains of Algeria and Morocco.
Sue Wiper, director at Trentham Monkey Forest, says: "This is our fourth park. We have two in France and one in Germany, and the park in Trentham, which opened in 2005, is the only one of its kind in the UK."
Special events for this year include an 'Egg-citing Easter', which runs from March 29 to April 14.
"We try to do something for Easter every year," says Sue, "and this year we're working with the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust.
"We'll be doing Easter trails and there will be a Mad Hatter's theme."
A Deer Study Centre wildlife weekend is taking place on April 27 and 28, providing an insight into the lives of fallow deer and other wildlife at Trentham. Then, on May 18 and 19, the RSPB will be demonstrating how to make a bird feeder.
"We work with the RSPB because we're conservation-based," continues Sue. People who come to the monkey forest tend to like wildlife and the outdoors."
The packed programme of events also includes two conservation weeks, one in July and the other in September. During these two weeks the public will be asked to help the monkey forest decide how to support Barbary macaques.
Trentham Monkey Forest
Open: The park is open at weekends in March, then daily from March 23 to November 3.
Admission: Adult: £7.50; Senior citizens/students: £7; Children (3-14): £5.50. Carer and disabled: £5.
Map Ref: D5
Kingsley Bird And Falconry Centre
WITH one of the largest collections of birds of prey in the country, Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre is an ideal place to see and learn about birds.
The centre is situated on the side of the Churnet Valley, with breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside.
With an active breeding schedule, the site sees many new additions each year, with the natural surroundings ensuring each bird feels as close to its natural environment as possible.
Owls, hawks, falcons and eagles are just some of the centre's residents.
Co-owner Mel Lord says: "We have about 120 birds of prey on display and people can come along and do guided or self-guided tours.
"I set the centre up with my husband Gareth and we've been open six years. Gareth has kept birds all his life, so it's kind of an extension of his hobby."
This Easter, from Saturday, March 30 to Monday, April 1, there will be a range of activities for all the family at Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre, on the outskirts of Kingsley village.
There will be an egg trail, quizzes, bird handling, themed refreshments and egg painting, as well as a flying display, weather permitting.
The centre also offers people the chance to try something a bit different by booking a one-to-one half-day visit which includes behind-the-scenes access to the park.
Kingsley Bird and Falconry Centre
Open: Weekends and school holidays from 10.30am.
Admission: Adult: £8; Child (3-12): £5; Child (under 3): Free.
Map Ref: F4.
The Wolseley Centre
ONE of the county's hidden gems, the Wolseley Centre is the headquarters for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
There are 26 acres of beautiful grounds to explore, with a network of accessible footpaths which take in three lakes and a variety of wildlife habitats. On warm, sunny days, look out for colourful dragonflies in the wet meadow area, and the bright blue flash of kingfishers as you stroll alongside the river.
Located in Wolseley Bridge, on the A51 between Stafford and Rugeley, the centre offers plenty of fun for families too. Youngsters can burn off energy on the natural play features sited around the grounds, which include a welly splash bridge and climbing rocks. You can also pick up a trail map from reception for £1 and search for nature-themed clues.
There is a boardwalk which crosses over a lush pools and marshland area and also a wildlife garden packed with practical ideas for attracting birds, insects and other creatures into the garden.
The centre has a packed diary of events for the coming months, including Wildplay sessions during Easter, and a Wildlife Watch on Wednesday, April 10.
Other events include a Food and Beer Festival on Saturday, June 8, and a Wildlife Day celebrating the 10th anniversary of the centre on Saturday, June 29.
The Wolseley Centre
Open: The centre is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and weekends and Bank Holidays from 11am to 5pm.
Map Ref: F8
Westport Lake Visitor Centre
ENJOY panoramic views of Westport Lake while enjoying a drink and a snack from the cafe at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's visitor centre.
The lake and surrounding grounds, which are looked after by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, are perfect for a stroll and a spot of wildlife-watching.
The lake, in Longport, is an important over-wintering site for many water birds and unusual species are known to stop-off during migration, while the conservation area at the northern end of the site is home to kingfishers and dragonflies.
There is a level footpath of about one mile around the lake, and also a health walk around the conservation area.
A regular programme of family activities takes place at the visitor centre during the school holidays.
This Easter there is an Eggstravaganza on Wednesday and Thursday, April 3 and 4, when children will get the chance to make their own chocolate bunny.
The visitor centre will also be holding Nature Tots sessions with wild activities for the under-fives, from Friday, May 3, to July 19, on the first and third Friday of the month, between 10am and 12pm.
Westport Lake Visitor Centre ST6 4RZ
Open: The visitor centre is open from 10am to 4.30pm, but closes earlier in winter – please call before you visit.
Map Ref: D4