Friday, 15 April 2011

Wildwood e-news April 2011

Wildwood e-news April 2011

1) Easter events
2) Play park opening on 23rd April - official!
3) NEW! Animal encounters
4) Wildwood on BBC wildlife show
5) Wild horses move to Scotland
6) Photo days
7) New bat flight cage "takes off"
8) Animal of the month - Red Fox
9) £3000 donation helps new conservation centre
10) Join us on Facebook & Twitter
11) Stuff we need - can you help?


1) Easter events at Wildwood

Every Day during the holidays – Free animal talks & feeds.
Join our experts around the park to see some of our animals close up with a feed and educational talk. Check the boards as you arrive at the park for details of the talks and feeds that day.

Fri 15th April - Animal Senses
How do animals use their senses? Test your ability to smell, see, hear, taste and feel like animals.  2-3pm. £1 per person, one adult free per family. Must book. 

Sat 16th April - Discover Nature event: Spring Foraging
FREE EVENT - Discover edible spring plants (and tast a few) on a woodland walk with Natural Heritage Officer Steve Kirk.  2-3pm. Must book. 

Mon 18th April - Easter Hares craft workshop
Make Easter hares to take home in this popular craft event.  2-3pm. £1 per person, one adult free per family. Must book. 

Wed 20th April - Easter Bunnies & Chicks
Make Easter bunnies and chicks to take home. 2-3pm. £1 per person, one adult free per family. Must book. 

Thur 21st April - Easter Egg Decorating Workshop
Dye and decorate a (free range) egg with your own Easter design. Min age 5years.  2-3pm. £2 per person, one adult free per family. Must book. 

Easter Weekend Apr 22-25 - Easter Hares Trail
FREE EVENT - Pick up a free trail leaflet on arrival at the park and follow the Easter hares trail around the park to find out all about the hare that helped us celebrate Easter. Complete the trail to claim your free Easter treat! No need to book. 

2) Play park opening on 23rd April - official!

Wildwood staff test the new drop slide

It's official!  The play area will be opening on Saturday 23rd April. The safety testing is complete and the ranger team are now busy working on the finishing touches. We would like to say a huge THANK YOU! to all of our members for being so patient during this massive build and to our amazing ranger team who have worked tirelessly through the (horrible) winter to complete the project on time.

3) NEW! Animal encounters

The newest addition to our talks and feeds programme is the new animal encounters section (next to the play area). The new area has been specially built to let visitors see some of our smaller animals close-up with an educational talk from a Wildwood expert. The picture shows visitors meeting Spike the hedgehog with education officer Suzanne Kynaston. The new display area will be in action all over the Easter school holidays, check the What's On boards when you arrive for details of the events that day.

4) Wildwood on new BBC wildlife show - tonight at 8pm!

Wildwood's beavers have been featured on the BBC's newest wildlife show, "The Animals Guide to Britain" with Chris Packham.  The series examines Britain from an animal's point of view. Each week he encounters an elite group of five animals each of which senses the world in a very different way.  Tonight Chris looks at how freshwater animals such as beaver, osprey and water voles view the world around them, keep your eyes peeled for the baby beavers that were born at Wildwood last year.

5) Wild horses move to Scotland

Our wild horses have now made the long journey to their new home in Scotland. The group of 8 Konik foals have been donated by the Wildwood Trust to live wild at the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve in Aberdeenshire. The horses will help to manage the reserve through natural grazing, encouraging new plant and bird life to flourish. The Wildwood Trust is dedicated to encouraging large herbivores for conservation grazing around the UK and we are very pleased to be able to donate these horses to such a wonderful nature reserve.

The BBC were there to film the horses as they arrived at their new home, you can watch the video of these beautiful creatures here.


6) Photo Days - perfect weather for wildlife photography


With ample daylight, spring and summer days are perfect for getting out your camera and snapping some of our animals and with the lovely sunshine we have been enjoying, now is the perfect time to enjoy (or treat someone to) a Photo Day at Wildwood.

Wildwood Photo Days are suitable for novice and more experienced photographers alike. Enjoy exclusive access around the park to take close-up photos of our animals, with our resident photographer Dave Butcher on hand to give help and advice on how to get those special shots. A range of different animals will be photographed across the day, with animal feeds for the more elusive animals to help you get close up images. Days run from 10:30am - 12:30pm and 1:30pm - 4pm with an hour for lunch (make use of our restaurant or bring a packed lunch). Max 10 persons per day. *You only need to bring one camera!

Cost: £75 per person, which includes entry to the park. To book call 01227 712 111 Gift vouchers available.


7) New bat flight cage "takes off"

This month saw the official opening of the Kent Bat Group bat flight centre at Wildwood. The special rehabilitation centre, built by Wildwood and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will be used by the Kent Bat Group to help bats recover from injuries and increase their stamina before being returned to the wild.

Over 100 grounded bats are brought to the Kent Bat Group every year after being found injured, orphaned or starving.  In many cases the bats are victims of human activities such as the use of pesticides and destruction of their natural habitat or they have fallen prey to domestic cats.  The new centre at Wildwood will allow the group to rehabilitate these bats and return them to the wild.

Wildwood's Chief Conservation Officer, Hazel Ryan (pictured inside the flight centre) said "this facility will make a huge difference to the number of bats the Kent Bat Group can help, it's great that Wildwood can work together with other groups to save endangered animals such as bats."


8) Animal of the month -  Red fox

Red foxes are easily recognised by their reddish-orange fur and bushy tail. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats, from salt marshes to mountain tops. In modern Britain, they have also adapted very well to urban environments and are one of the most likely mammals to turn up in your garden.

Foxes are a native British species, having been present in this country both before and after the last Ice Age. Fox hunting was popular in mediaeval times and the Normans were even known to import foxes from Europe for the hunt. Foxes have never been officially classed as vermin or pests. Indeed, as they eat large numbers of rats and mice, they could even be seen as pest controllers. However, in their search for prey they do not distinguish between wild and domestic animals and are willing to take chickens and newborn lambs, although they tend to take more stillborn lambs and afterbirths than live newborns. Despite human persecution, the red fox has maintained or increased its status in many parts of its range. Foxes receive little legal protection as they are an abundant and widespread species, although they are protected from cruelty under the Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996). Hunting foxes with dogs has been illegal since 2005.

Foxes are generally nocturnal but can also be seen in the daytime. They seem equally at home in both rural and urban environments, thanks to their readiness to eat a wide variety of foods such as mice, voles and rats, fruit, nuts, worms, eggs and scraps from bird tables. Urban foxes do scavenge but rarely take food from dustbins as is often thought. Apart from the fact that food is readily available elsewhere, they are unable to open modern wheelie bins. Foxes begin moulting their winter coat in early spring and continue for most of the summer. The moult usually begins on the legs and then spreads to the flanks, back and tail. Moulting foxes often look very scruffy, almost mangy, as well as considerably thinner than in their winter coat, which lasts from October to January. Red foxes live from two to six years with urban foxes living the shortest lives due to the greater number of cars in their environment.

Red foxes generally live in family groups which share a territory. Usually the group consists of a male and female pair (dog and vixen), their cubs and female offspring from previous years. Male cubs leave once they are a few months old to find their own territories. The female cubs which stay will help to look after the dominant vixen's cubs but will not usually breed themselves. Foxes mate between December and February and males may fight over the females. 4-8 tiny cubs with chocolate brown fur will be born between February and April. The vixen stays with the cubs when they are very young, relying on the dog fox to bring her food. Cubs become independent at four months.

Red Foxes at Wildwood
The foxes at Wildwood have all been looked after by humans at some point in their lives (either as orphaned cubs or as the result of an injury) as so were too tame to go back to the wild. Foxes are not naturally active in the middle of the day but they can often be seen early in the morning and late in the afternoon, playing or being fed. When they are asleep they often prefer to find somewhere secluded but they will sometimes curl up in the sun in full view.

Did you know? Red foxes....

  • are the most widely distributed members of the dog family in the world, having overtaken wolves for the top spot.
  • are good climbers and may sometimes spend the day asleep in the low branches of trees.
  • have only one predator in the UK apart from humans; the golden eagle.
  • are wonderful at jumping and have been known to leap 4.5 metres or 15 feet!


9) £3000 donation helps new conservation centre

This month we were extremely grateful to receive a generous donation of £3000 from the Garfield Weston foundation, a grant-giving charity, towards our new conservation centre at the park.

The donation will help us complete the new endangered species conservation centre (pictured), which is being created to support our work in environmental protection for endangered species. The centre will provide facilities for research and environment study, in particular for British reptiles and dormice. Using the conservation centre as a learning resource, we can study the causes for the decline of protected species, and help protect their habitats from further damage.

The building has been constructed by our ranger team using local timber and donated materials, the donated funds help with the cost of specialist equipment such as heated pens, temperature controlled heating units, washing facilities for bio-security , as well as research apparatus including night view cameras for nocturnal animals, and diet, weight and temperature analysis tools.

The new centre will be used by students studying the Accredited CCS at the University of Kent, and volunteers learning surveying skills. It will make provision for detailed studies for our Ecological partners, including the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology. Wildwood will use the centre to work closely with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group and Natural England, to ensure the Centre works to best support the endangered species Action Plans for each creature.

Peter Smith, Wildwood's Chief Executive said "It's thanks to generous donations such as this that we can continue this vital work to research and protect some of Britain's most endangered species, we hope that this new dedicated centre will allow us to greatly expand our conservation efforts."


10) Join us on Facebook & Twitter

Did you know you can keep up with all the latest from Wildwood via Facebook and Twitter? Join us now to keep up with all the goings-on at the park.



11) Wildwood equipment appeal - can you help?

As a conservation charity, Wildwood needs to watch the pennies and we love to recycle, so if you have any of the following items that you would like to donate please let us know:

 Large plastic storage boxes with lids - To help our Education to sort out their skulls from their scissors.

Laptop computers less than 5 years old - for use around the park.


If you can help at all please contact the office on 01227 712 111, many thanks.


Fiona Paterson
Wildwood Trust
Tel 01227 712 111

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