This is my second visit to Woodside Wildlife and Falconry Park; the first was many years ago and the park has expanded quite a bit since then. The park is now much larger and although we have lost the Pig Racing we have gained a Tiger enclosure and a Wolf enclosure too.
Once you walk through the reception and gift shop area and into the park the first animal you see is the Green Winged Macaw:
He seems quite tame and isn’t phased by all of the people that pass him.
Following the Macaw, you have a medium sized Meerkat enclosure, like the Meerkats in Skegness these are inquisitive animals and I had to take a picture of them all looking at us through the glass:
After taking a few shots of a Peacock who wouldn’t face me when he had his fantail up we decided to venture down the side of the park towards the wolves enclosure. I noticed that my Mum was in a much better location to get a better shot of the Peacock.
On the way we passed a Fallow Deer who was having a rest in the sun:
Just past the Fallow Deer structure I noticed this House Sparrow on the wall and managed to get a couple of photo’s before he tok his straw to a nest:
After taking a few unspectacular photographs of the Hudson Bay Wolves we passed a lake at the back of the park, the small lake (more of a pond actually) was teeming with thousands and thousands of tadpoles. There was also a reasonable number of White Storks too:
Just past the Storks there are a couple of CapyBara which look like large version of a Guinea pig crossed with a Rat:
The next enclosure housed 3 Tigers which were not going to have their photo taken whilst we where there so after a few minutes I arrived at the Siberian Lynx enclosure which had two of what looked like larger versions of normal tabby cats:
After visiting the Tigers and Lynx the next enclosure (which was full of young school kids too) was where they fed the Lemurs. We weren’t sure if we should enter the area but were invited by the couple of keepers into there.
Just prior to releasing the Lemurs, the two keepers placed the lemurs favourite food strategically around the enclosure, the Lemurs had what look like a small playground with climbing frames and a slide to use. When the Lemurs were “released” it was almost like an explosion; the 4 or 5 Ring Tailed Lemurs knew where the food would be and the went straight for it navigating around the enclosure and the structures with ease.
Here is one of them sitting inside one of the structures (just below the slide):
Both my parents and I (as well as all of the school kids) enjoyed watching the lemurs, they were great fun. The only disappointment was that of the 3 species they have at Woodside only the Ring Tailed Lemurs were released.
After we left the Lemur enclosure we carried on going around the park towards the restaurant (we wanted to eat our food before the kids descended upon the restaurant which they aren’t allowed to do – never mind).
The next bird was this beautiful Bengalese Eagle Owl:
There were many more birds but the cages obstructed a decent view and this unfortunately affected the photographs too greatly. Yes you can throw fences out of focus with long focal lengths and wide apertures if you can get close to the fence (which we couldn’t here) and the subject is a reasonable distance back from the fence too.
There was an enclosure with a couple of Sacred Ibis, I managed to get an OK shot here:
The final enclosures before we left the area housed the two species of Marmosets at woodisde. The cages are next to each other and I managed to get a good photograph of this really cute Geoffroy’s Marmoset Baby:
All together now: AAAWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!
Just before going for our lunch we quickly had a look at what at first looked like a couple of Peregrine Falcons. I was almost right as these were two Peregrine x Saker Falcons:
Woodside’s literature states:
By crossing a peregrine falcon, the fastest bird on earth, reaching speeds of 200mph in a stoop, with a Saker Falcon, a very large species of falcon, it is hoped that both the size and speed valued in each of the pure parents will combine and be shown in the offspring. Peregrine falcons hunt exclusively feathered prey. The Saker falcon, ion the other hand, will frequently take ground prey.
Nice head shot of the Peacock again on the way to the restaurant:
We now ventured into the Restaurant for Lunch, I was hoping for a Jacket Potatoes but as they weren’t available that day I had to make do with the soup of the Day (tomato) with a side salad. If I was to come again I might bring a picnic. The Tea and Coffee served was very nice though.
We had to eat fairly quickly as the Bird Display was about to start, I finished before my parents so I left early to get to a good place to sit. I was a bit too late for that so this limited the number of photographs I could take.
After a few rules and do’s and don’ts from the keepers they released the first bird, the Barn Owl:
It was nice to see the bird fly around and fly from post to post.
The next bird was the Striated Caracara – all of my shots either had someone’s head or body part in the way or I ended up with what is known as a “butt-shot” :(
The next bird was really the star of the show for me, the Crested Caracara:
This bird liked to tackle (fake) snakes and (fake) scorpions and bring it back to the keeper:
Although it spent most of its time on the floor, it did fly around a bit too, here it is perched on one of the poles:
The final bird was quite young a Red Legged Seriema:
The keepers weren’t sure how she would behave as she is still learning, but after a little bit of delay she came out performed her piece and then went back on cue too (a first from what I can gather).
We had some time before the next display (feeding of the wolves) so we went around the park some more. Here are some of the photographs.
Meerkat on back (this reminds me of our dogs who sleep on their backs too):
Meerkat portrait head shot:
Sulcata Tortoise eating the grass – who needs a lawnmower:
So after a bit of delay (waiting for the schools kids to arrive) we were shown the Hudson Bay Wolves being fed (their meat was thrown into their large enclosure). The leader of the pack is unusually a female wolf and she has to eat first but will let the other wolves eat food too. Here are three of the best photographs I took (taking into account the problem with the enclosure)
Almost straight after the feeding of the wolves was the Reptile handling session (a great hit with the kids). Sometimes they also bring out the tarantula but the keepers pointed out that lots of legs and lots of small hands and fingers do not agree with each other and the spider would certainly loose a limb or two.
Unlike the flying display I managed to get a front-row seat this time (which made little difference here). They first brought out a male and female Dumeril Boa Snakes (small ones) and one each one was taken around the right and left sides of the audience. I was very surprised by how the snake felt – its’ not what you think.
After the snake I managed to stroke the bearded dragon:
He was very happy with all of the attention. Apparently he had been abandoned by his original owner, it was found by the side of a road and brought into Woodside where it is now a resident. I would have given him a home if he needed one.
I am still amazed by people who have a pet and then for some reason or another they abandon them, our pets are part of the family. The trouble is people underestimate the responsibilities and costs involved in owning a pet.
After the reptile handling session we decided to venture into the heated Tropical House where a number of species live (some have the roam of the entire building).
Towards the rear of the building was a pool with lots of fish, you could tell it was warm as there was a log in the middle covered by Terrapins, here is a close-up of one of them:
There were many birds flying around, the most common were the Java Sparrows:
Some of the animals were inside special cages or rooms such as bats and this one of a Brown Rat:
Finally the building also has rooms with ouside areas for the various Lemurs as well as others such as the Common Marmoset, this isn’a great shot as the glass between the Marmoset and I was very dirty:
The final part of this building had a Butterfly room, I managed to get a few nice shots of various butterflies:
Unfortunately for me I saw the butterfly area in Skegness which was almost 3 times larger than this room so although there were a few butterflies it couldn’t compare.
My final shot of the day was one of the Asian Short Clawed Otters, their enclosure prohibits any better shots than this:
I (and my parents) had a great day at Woodside Wildlife and Falconry Park; I can certainly recommend a visit. I would try and pick a day when they haven’t got huge number of school kids present though :)