Saturday, 29 September 2012

Wildwood e-news Sept '12

Wildwood e-news September '12

1) New autumn / winter events schedule out now!
2) Join the fight to stop the badger cull
3) Wildwood dormouse release
4) Ecominds update
5) Supporter of the month - Asda
6) Animal of the month - Badger
7) Christmas events
8) Car park closure  - 1st to 5th October
9) Items needed


1) New autumn / winter events schedule out now!
Autumn & winter events at Wildwood

The new Wildwood events schedule is out now. There is something for everyone with fun craft sessions, conservation courses and Christmas events (see item 8 below).

Click here to visit our events page for the complete schedule and to download our new events leaflet

Forthcoming events at Wildwood:

Sunday 30th September - Harvest Mouse Conservation Course
A one-day course on the key factors affecting the status and distribution of the harvest mouse. You will have the opportunity to examine harvest mouse nests and gain practical surveying experience in the field. Held at Dungeness Nature Reserve. 
10am - 4pm. £30 per person (includes Wildwood entry fee). To book please email Tara Lines: or call 01227 711 471

Saturday 13th October - Junior Zoo Keeper Experience Day
Do you know a budding zoo keeper? Discover what it's like to work at Wildwood and how we keep our animals happy and healthy.
10am - 12pm. 7-11yrs  £50 per person. Must book.

Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th October - Mini Food Fair with Godmersham Game
Mini food market with local food and drink from some of Kent's best local producers. Don't forget to bring a bag and stock up on goodies.
11am - 4pm both days. Free event*. No need to book, drop in any time.

Sunday 14th October - Small Mammal Survey Skills
Learn how to survey our smallest mammals using live traps. Includes handling and identification.
9.30am - 4.15pm  £30 per person (book together with Kent Mammal ID Course for £50)
Please book with Tara Lines on 01227 711 471 or email or call 01227 711 471

Tuesday 23rd October - Photography Day
Wildlife photography with tuition from our resident photographer. Get exclusive access and special animal feeds to help you get those close-up shots.  Over 18 unless accompanied by an adult who is also taking part in the photo day.  Gift vouchers also available.
10.30am - 4pm. £79 per person (includes Wildwood entry fee). Must book.

Saturday 27th October - An Introduction to the Ecology and Identification of Fungi
A course focusing on the importance of fungi in the ecosystem and aiming to de-mystify the identification process.  The day will include a presentation, microscopic examination of specimens and a foray to discover different types of fungi in their natural habitats.
10am - 4pm  £30 per person. Please book with Tara Lines on 01227 711 471 or email or call 01227 711 471

Monday 29th October - Harvest Moon Night Tour
See our animals under the moonlight on a guided tour around the park to coincide with the full moon.
6.30pm - 9pm. £25 per person (includes Wildwood entry fee). Min age 10yrs. Includes hot meal.  Must book.

Monday 29th - Wednesday 31st October - Hallowe'en Craft event
Get ready for Hallowe'en with our annual creepy craft event. Make your own suitably spooky decorations to take home themed around pumpkins, bats, rats, spiders and cats.
11.30am - 1pm or 2pm - 3.30pm each day.  £2 per person, one adult free per family. Must book.

Monday 29th - Friday 2nd November - Nature Detective Trail

Be a true nature detective and pick up your free CSI trail to solve the half-term mystery around the park. Crack the case to claim your special badge and certificate.
Drop in any time (no need to book). Only available while stocks last. Free event*.

To book craft events, night tours, zoo keeper or photo days, please call the office on 01227 712 111.  To book a conservation event (in green) please email or call 01227 711 471. *Wildwood membership or entry fees apply.


2) Join the fight to stop the badger cull

Peter Smith on the badger cull

Following the recent news that badgers are to be culled in England this autumn to combat bovine tuberculosis (bTB), Wildwood has joined the fight to stop the cull.

The government has given the go-ahead for two pilot zones in the South West with a view to extending the scheme across the country. If a nationwide cull goes ahead as many as 100,000 badgers could be shot, including many perfectly healthy animals.

Wildwood agrees that bovine TB is a problem that needs to be addressed. It has blighted cattle farming in the UK for decades and costs the taxpayer millions of pounds every year in destroying cattle and compensating affected farmers. However, we believe that a culling badgers is a short-term and unsustainable approach that will do little to address the problem in the long run whilst needlessly slaughtering thousands of healthy animals.

Rather than a cull of badgers, the issue of bovine TB needs a long-term, scientific approach that deals with the problems of modern industrial cattle farming. Our government and farmers need to work together to find long term, evidence-based solutions that include badger vaccinations, better farming practices and improved cattle welfare.

We are therefore asking all of our members to sign the official badger cull e-petition to force the government to re-think their plans.

If you agree that a badger cull is not the solution to bovine TB please click here to sign the e-petition before it's too late.


For more information on the proposed cull and bovine TB please watch our video: Wildwood Chief Executive, Peter Smith on why a badger cull is not the answer


3) Wildwood dormouse release

Dormouse at Wildwood

Wildwood is celebrating playing a major part in a new dormouse reintroduction programme to help save the species from extinction. This summer our dedicated team joined forces with the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to release breeding pairs of dormice to a secret woodland location in Warwickshire. The site was specially selected as a suitable habitat and Wildwood was the main provider of dormice for the project, donating several pairs to recolonize the area.  Members of the Wildwood Conservation and Keeper teams were on hand to monitor the initial release and the project has so far been hailed as a great success.

In recent years the hazel dormouse has suffered a dramatic fall in numbers due habitat loss and unsympathetic woodland management and is now classed as extremely vulnerable to extinction meaning that without urgent action it could disappear from the UK forever.

For this project the dormice were reintroduced using a "soft release" system. Soft releases work by introducing an animal into a new area slowly by providing them with food and protection until they are fully adjusted to their new environment. In this case the breeding pairs where placed in secure wooden nest boxes which were then fitted inside larger mesh cages on the woodland trees. The dormice were checked and fed daily in these cages over a two week period before a small door in each cage was left open, allowing the dormice to leave the cage. This method allowed the dormice to explore their new home whilst still having the security of the mesh cage and food if needed.  Once the dormice had settled into the woodland and were no longer using the cages they were removed.

We are extremely pleased to have been a part of this important project and for Wildwood's members this release is another example of how your support is making a very real difference to British wildlife. So we'd like to say a big thank-you from all of our team, and of course from the dormice!


4) Ecominds Update

Ecominds volunteers work on new otter enclosure

The Ecominds team have been hard at work on our new otter enclosure which is taking shape nicely. The volunteers have been helping with the main enclosure and have also taken on the behind-the-scenes hospital pools as their own mini-project.

The team are helping to put the final touches to 2 special hospital pools that will be used to look after sick otters or to introduce new otters to the enclosure. This facility will allow the Wildwood keepers to separate the otters if required into a special quarantine area, whilst allowing the main enclosure to operate normally.

The volunteers have successfully carried out most of the work on the pools and have been learning new skills in the process. Under the guidance of our rangers, they have been:

  • Using the cement mixers to mix their own cement and cementing the inside of the pools to make them durable, water tight and easy to clean. 
  • Building fencing around the hospital pools to create a private area for otters when they are unwell and are requiring treatment.
  • Learning how to lay crazy paving, and helping to pave the floor around the hospital pools so they can be washed down and disinfected easily.

About Ecominds

Wildwood's Ecominds Volunteers project has been funded by Ecominds, a £7.5million funding scheme run by Mind on behalf of the BIG Lottery Fund. Ecominds involves people with direct experience of mental distress in environmental projects that improve their mental and physical health. The scheme offers participants the chance to learn new skills and gain practical experience whilst boosting their confidence.  At Wildwood the team help in many areas such as gardening, maintenance and assisting in the day-to-day running of the park, all of which give them important life-skills.


5) Supporter of the Month - Asda Supermarket, Canterbury

Asda donation

Wildwood is delighted to have been voted winners of Asda's "Chosen by you ...given by us" charity award after Shoppers at the Canterbury store voted for us via an in-store token system. Asda community colleague Jayne Tutt came along to the park to present the cheque for £200 to Jess Walters, Wildwood's fundraising co-ordinator who said "we are very grateful to all the Asda shoppers who voted for Wildwood, it's great to know that we have a lot of local support and the donation will really help us at the park". The donation will be spent on the upkeep of the park and looking after our animals. We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for us, we really appreciate your support!


6) Animal of the month - badger

Badger at Wildwood

Badgers are one of the most characteristic animals of the British countryside and are easily recognised by their black and white striped faces. Badgers are nocturnal and tend to stay below ground during the day and come out to look for food at night, so despite being one of the UK's best-known animals, the majority of people in Britain have never actually seen one.  

Life underground
Badgers spend a great deal of their time underground and are well adapted for their subterranean lifestyle. Badgers are built for digging, with powerful forelimbs, long, tough claws and strong wedge-shaped bodies. Their eyes are relatively small and their eyesight is poor, but what they lack in visual ability they more than make up for with their excellent sense of smell and stiff whiskers which help them find their way about very efficiently.

Badgers live in large tunnel systems known as setts. A sett consists of a series of underground chambers making up a main burrow (which will have several entrances) and a number of outlying burrows. A sett may be used for decades or even centuries by successive generations of badgers who will be make new chambers and entrances until the sett may eventually cover several hectares. Badgers are very clean animals and regularly change their bedding, dragging out old material and replacing it with fresh grass, hay or straw. Foxes may occasionally share a sett with the badgers although the two animals generally give each other a wide berth.

Badger families
Each sett is inhabited by a group, or clan, of between 3 and 20 badgers. Badger cubs are born in spring, usually in February, although they don't venture above ground until April. The cubs will be weaned by June and by July will be finding their own food. By autumn they will be fully grown will often settle in the sett where they were born. As well as sharing a sett, the group will also share a territory. The edges of a territory are usually defined by a large number of dung pits or latrines. As scent is such an important sense to badgers, they will also define their territories by scent marking and badgers from the same clan will groom and anoint one another with secretions from glands under their tails, giving them a unqiue family smell which allows them to recognise each other. 

Our badgers have two setts, an outdoor one which they constructed themselves and an artificial one inside the badger building. They can usually be seen asleep in the indoor sett during the day, although in winter they may have so much straw tucked over themselves that they are hard to spot. Although badgers do not hibernate, in winter they spend a lot more time sleeping and staying in the sett and can go for a few days without coming out to feed if the weather is particularly bad, relying on fat reserves built up in late summer and autumn.

Current Status of the Badger
Badgers have a long history of persecution in Britain. They have been hunted for their fur, meat, fat and hide. Certain parts of a badger's body were once believed to cure diseases such as rheumatism, leprosy and arthritis. Badger bristles were once commonly used to make high quality shaving brushes. As a result of all this, by the end of the 19th century badgers were considered rather rare. During the First and Second World Wars, their numbers increased, due in part to greater tolerance by landowners and the growth in numbers of nature reserves, however by the 1960s the future of the badger was looking gloomy again. Many were being killed on roads and railways, badger digging had once again became popular and it is now thought that some pesticides were reducing fertility. Thanks to the Protection of Badgers Act (1992), which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take a badger or to damage or interfere with a sett, badger numbers are on the increase and today they are relatively common, however, a new threat hangs over British badgers. They have been blamed for the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) among cattle and consequently the government is now ordering a cull of badgers to try and control the spread of the disease.

Did you know… Badgers

  • Their stiff, wiry hairs used to be used for shaving brushes and their skins as sporrans in Scotland and Eire.
  • Badgers scent mark each other to confirm their family membership; they so the same to their keepers' shoes!
  • Their name is said to derive from the French 'bĂȘcheur', meaning 'digger'
  • Their favourite food is earthworms and one badger can eat over 200 in a single night!
  • They can prey on prickly hedgehogs thanks to their thick skin and long claws

7) Christmas events at Wildwood

Christmas at Wildwood

We have lots of fun events going on this festive season:

Christmas trees - on sale December

Holly Hullabaloo Craft Event
Saturday 8th December
Get into the festive spirit with our fun Christmas craft event. Make your own Christmas decorations from natural and recycled materials to take home.
1pm - 3pm. £2 per person, one adult free per family. Must book on 01227 712 111.

Meet Father Christmas
Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd December
Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th December 
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th December 
Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd December

Father Christmas is coming to Wildwood with a big sackful of toys! Children of all ages are welcome (so long as they've been good). Every child will receive a special present from Father Christmas to take home. Photos to take home will also be available for an additional fee.
1pm - 4pm each day. £6 per child. Please book with the Shop on 01227 712 111. Please note that Wildwood membership or entry fees apply.


NEW! - Christmas Twilight Tea Parties
Saturday 1st December
Saturday 8th December
Saturday 15th December
Saturday 22nd December
Sunday 23rd December

Father Christmas would like to invite you to a twilight tea party at Wildwood. Go on a woodland walk to feed Wildwood's deer and then enjoy a scrummy Christmas tea party in the cafe before visiting Father Christmas in his grotto. Every child will receive a special present from Santa and a photo to take home.
3.30pm: meet up to feed deer - 4.00pm: tea in the cafe - 4.30pm onwards: Children meet Father Christmas in the grotto. £15 per child. Please book with the Shop on 01227 712 111. Please note that Wildwood membership or entry fees apply.

Toddler Club Christmas Party 
Monday 17th December
Festive fun for toddler club members with games, party food and a visit to Father Christmas.
10.30am - 12pm. £3 per child (under 4's only). Please book with the Shop on 01227 712 111


8) Car park closure - Monday 1st (to 5th) October

Please note that the Wildwood Car Park will be closed on Monday 1st October and possibly for the rest of the week. Visitors should use the main estate car park by the Herne Bay entrance to Wealden Forest Park. The car park is being closed in order to carry out essential maintenance and we will try to have it open again as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 


9) Items needed - can you help?

As a conservation charity we love to recycle and can make use of lots of things that might otherwise go into landfill. We urgently need the following items for use around the park, if you can help please contact the office on 01227 712 111.

  • Large plastic storage boxes with lids - For use in our conservation building.
  • Shiny ribbon, card, glitter, paper - for our festive craft events (hallowe'en, Christmas, Chinese new year).


Many thanks,

Fiona Paterson

Wildwood Trust

Herne Common,

Herne Bay,



Registered charity no. 1093702