Welcome to the May edition of our monthly newsletter. We have a bear mystery, some reintroduction news and the first chough chicks to be born in Kent for at least 150 years.
If you wish to know more about any of our stories or The Wildwood Trust in general, then please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and for your continued support. We'll see you again in June!
Water vole reintroduction
Part of the consultancy services available through Wildwood conservation includes mitigation services for water voles. We have been managing two water vole mitigation projects over the last 6 months, and one of the contracts is due to be finalized next Thursday the 1st of June with the release of 49 water voles back into their original habitat in Tilbury, Essex.
Wildwood is one of a handful of organizations that has the capacity to offer water vole mitigation services, such as looking after a population over winter, breeding, and aiding in release back into the wild. These services play an important part in required mitigation practices for water voles, and on a larger scale assist with conservation of the species.
First chough chick born in Kent for 150 years!
Conservationists are celebrating as the first ever baby chough chick is born at the Wildwood Trust. This is the first ever chough to be born in Kent in at least 150 years. Lost to Kent for centuries, the magnificent chough, which adorns the Canterbury City's coat of arms and civic regalia, can once again be seen back in the county synonymous with this wonderful bird.
This is the first success by Wildwood's team of expert keepers in the hope of establishing a long-term breeding programme for the bird's return to Kent.
Our baby reindeer born last month is doing brilliantly and starting to fill out - she is no longer 90% legs!
Mum and baby are still inseparable while wandering around their enclosure, but she is growing up very quickly and her baby ways are fast disappearing
If you haven't already seen her, make sure to come down soon before she grows up. She's adorable!
Pine Marten Towers
We've been working on our new Pine Marten Towers for some time now and are happy to announce that the build is now complete and we should be opening in the next few weeks!
The two towers have two separate levels which are accessed by a combination of rope bridges, climbing frames, slides and a walkway joining the play dome.
We'll be educating as well as entertaining the children with engaging facts about the pine marten; how fast they can climb and leap, and how reintroduction could help increase our native red squirrel populations.
To find out more about reintroducing pine martens back into our countryside, please click on the button below.
We're happy to announce that we have more births at Wildwood this month with some new baby squirrels.
They're within the first nest box in the enclosure between the red foxes and the entrance to the bear bridge, and have started venturing out.
Why not come down and see if you can spot them!
We had a bit of a mystery as our bears showed a particular interest in one of the trees in their enclosure. You can see the bite marks and dents on the metal plate after both our bears were scratching and clawing at the plate which is there to protect the tree.
We were obviously intrigued and a little worried that they may hurt themselves so, as soon as they went into their small enclosure for the night, we checked out the tree.
When we removed the metal plate to discover what had piqued their interest, look at what we found...a robin's nest!
After making sure that the bears were not in danger of hurting themselves, we quickly replaced the plate and kept an eye on the nest. We're happy to report that robins have returned to the nest and have our fingers crossed that the eggs will hatch.
Our bees have been busy building up their colonies after winter and our glass fronted observation hive is once again packed full of the fascinating insects.
Come down to our Bee Zone to find out more about the complicated workings of these incredible creatures and don't forget to stop off in the shop to pick up a jar of this year's batch of Wildwood honey...it's delicious!
Volunteers - Zenith Marque
A big thank you to the lovely people from Zenith Marque who kindly volunteer their time every year to help us spruce up our park. They were in 'nut browning' fences and clearing excess foliage from the paths, and they did a magnificent job.
Bring Wildwood into your own back yard this half-term with nine days of FREE interactive activities at the park. You and your little 'uns can learn how to spot and recognise local birds, discover life in ponds, become a bug detective and investigate nests - all skills that can be used to encourage and look at nature in your own back yard. We also have talks and feeds with our massive bears and stealthy lynx, face painting and the chance to meet an animal face to face.
All of our activities will take place at the green gazebo (near the entrance to the park) apart from our bear and lynx talks, which take place at their enclosures, and our minibeast hunt which is located just opposite the wild horse paddock. If you get lost or need directions to any of our activities, please ask any member of staff who will be happy to help.
Bird Watching Come along for a child-friendly introduction to spotting garden birds in our bird watching zone. Learn how to recognise common garden visitors with fun games and see how many you can tick off on your spotter's sheet at our feeding station.
Pond Dipping Come and discover the hidden world of garden ponds with magnifying pots; how many critters will you find?
Minibeast Hunt Join us to see how many creepy crawlies you can find. Learn to identify some of the bugs you might find in your garden by becoming a bug detective with bug catchers and magnifying glasses!
Whose Nest? Test your knowledge of nest builders by examining some real nests and matching them to the animal that built them.
Talks and Feeds Find out interesting facts about our bears and lynx. Watch them being fed and engaging with their keepers.
Meet an Animal We'll be introducing you to some of our cuter animals up close and personal, twice per day. See either rabbits, snakes, ferrets or hedgehogs.
Face Painting Bring out the animal within by getting your face painted for the day. We use safe materials for the most sensitive skin.
Saturday 27th May 10.30 - 11.00: Face Painting 10.30 - 11.30: Bird Watching 11.30 - 12.00: Meet an Animal 12.00 - 12.30: Bear Talk 12.30 - 13.30: Face Painting 12.30 - 13.30: Pond Dipping 14.00 - 14.30: Lynx Talk 14.30 - 15.00: Meet an Animal
Conservationists are celebrating as the first ever baby chough chick is born at the Wildwood Trust conservation centre. Expert conservationists at the Canterbury based charity say this is the first ever chough to be born in Kent in at least 150 years. Lost to Kent for centuries, the magnificent chough, which adorns the Canterbury City's coat of arms and civic regalia, can once again be seen back in the county synonymous with this wonderful bird.
The chough, a member of the crow family, is one of the rarest birds in the UK and was driven to extinction in Kent well over 100 years ago. The chough has a long-standing association with Kent and still lives on in the coat of arms of Canterbury City and the University of Kent, and in Shakespeare's King Lear (Act iv – Fields near Dover, Scene 6) where he introduces the chough in his description of the Dover Cliffs.
The Canterbury-based charity Wildwood Trust is part of a ground-breaking project to assess if these amazing birds can be released back into the Kent countryside. Famed as acrobats of the sky, the chough naturally performs majestic flying displays which can now be seen by visitors to Kent's largest bird aviary at the Wildwood Trust Animal park on the A291 between Canterbury and Herne Bay. This is the first success by Wildwood's team of expert keepers in the hope of establishing a long-term breeding programme for the bird's return to Kent.
Leading rewilding expert & Wildwood Trust boss Peter Smith said:
"I am so thrilled we have bred this remarkable baby bird and this marks a landmark in reversing the damage done to our countryside. Our expert Keeper team are on a long and difficult journey to allow us to breed enough birds to fill Kent’s skies once again. The chough is an amazing bird whose aerial acrobatics can now thrill our hundreds of thousands of members and visitors. But the story of the chough gets to the very heart of problems of wildlife in the UK. The chough were driven to extinction by persecution and detrimental farming and landownership systems. We can bring these magnificent birds back to Kent, but to make them thrive in our countryside we must make some major changes to how we use the land and the chemicals we pour onto it. By rewilding poor agricultural land full of bugs and little beasties, choughs and a host of rare wildlife can once again thrive in Kent."
While its black plumage identifies it as a crow, the chough (pronounced 'chuff') has a red bill and red legs unlike any other member of the crow family. Males and females are similar in appearance, but in juveniles the bill is yellow and the plumage and legs are duller in colour than in adults. The red-billed chough, a coastal cliff loving bird, is found mostly on the west coast of the United Kingdom. It became extinct in England until a population recolonised the Cornish coastline in the early 1990's. To date, this is still the only English population.
It is a superb and acrobatic flyer, and can be distinguished when soaring by the "finger feathers" at the wing tips. It is a highly sociable bird in winter, gathering in large flocks. In summer, they build a nest of twigs lined with moss, lichen and sheep's wool. Courtship often includes "mirrored" flying displays where the male and female will follow each other's flight patterns. Between 2 to 6 eggs are laid, which hatch after 19 days, and both parents feed the young until they fledge at six weeks. The young birds follow and harass their parents for food, until becoming independent and spreading their territories during the winter months. They breed from 2-3 continuing until almost 20 years old.
The chough population has become highly fragmented with several isolated populations around the coast of Britain in West Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and a small population in Cornwall. The chough was once more widespread and formerly occurred as far east as Kent where it became extinct c. 160 years ago (Bullock et al. 1983). The decline of the species in the UK has been due to a number of factors including persecution, pesticides use and changes in farming practice.
-- ENDS --
Notes to editors:
Wildwood Trust have captured some unique footage of the baby chough chick which is available for download & will happily assist visiting members of the press to obtain footage if they wish to visit.
Wildwood Trust opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife, and was established as a registered charity in 2002. Wildwood is Kent's best British wildlife park. Home to over 200 native animals, past and present and set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more. As one of the leading British animal conservation charities in the UK, Wildwood Trust is dedicated to saving Britain's most threatened wildlife. Wildwood Trust have taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes to date, which include, saving the water vole, using wild horses to help restore Kent's most precious nature reserves, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse & red squirrel to areas where they have been made extinct.
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ