We were told by our wonderful wildlife guide in Cornwall (where we got to feed the foxes), that the best place to see badgers in their sett was at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey. The sad thing is since our fox experience is that we have seen 4 dead foxes on the roads due to holiday traffic. We learned that over 50% of foxes in Britain are killed on the roads. We had a great time at the British Wildlife centre viewing UK’s finest collection of native animals. We have absolutely fallen in love with the wild life here in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Over here they do a wonderful job with wildlife education and conservation. There are also so many talented artists who showcase the wildlife in such an endearing and spectacular way.
We arrived at the centre at 10-30 just in time for the first keeper’s talk, the red squirrel. We decided to follow each keepers talk in hope of learning a little more about each animal. The red squirrel numbers decreased when the American grey squirrel was introduced into UK’s forest, as it brought with it a virus. Grey squirrels are everywhere. Red squirrels are now rare and may become extinct in as little as 10 years. Most of the UK’s population of red squirrel are mostly found in Scotland. We were lucky enough to see red squirrels twice in the wild in Scotland. Trials are underway in some areas, introducing Pine Martens to help reduce grey squirrels.
This cute Pine Marten is a predator of the squirrel. There is hope that the Pine Marten may help reduce the grey squirrel population allowing red squirrels numbers to increase.
A squirrel is like watching Rob high on caffeine. They are highly active. Busy!!!! Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with Rob’s zip-zappy mind!!! It’s always on the go-go!!!
We were lucky to also see a very active grey squirrel who jumped straight at us, like something from a horror movie when I went to take a close up photo of him. A real face hugger. Rob and I have never seen anything like it!!! We were jumped by a savage grey squirrel.
A highlight was when we spotted a rare albino squirrel. It looked like a ghost squirrel. Her name is Polly, she was found abandoned in a cardboard box. She is a grey squirrel.
Another real time waster that we enjoyed was the harvest mice, with their tiny delicate features. They are so hard to spot, and then once you spot one you see them all dancing on a thin harvest flower. They reminded us of tightrope walkers.
Then came the moment we had been waiting for. We went into the dark observational badgers sett. It took our eyes a while to adjust to the darkness, then we saw our first badger. Mr badger with his bold black and white striped head, long nose and huge round body. We were so lucky as the badgers were very active underground. We also saw Mrs big badger and all the young badger family. We were like kids as we really didn’t think over the winter months that we would get to see badgers.
We then headed to the fox talk where once again we got to fall in love with the tricky fox. How beautiful is the fox with its thick winter coat, sly cunning eyes and bushy tail. We learned that baby foxes are born with blue eyes so that it’s mother can find it in the dark. The females are also only fertile for about three days in December, which is when they make lots of loud noise to draw in a male.
Then came the talk with the British Wildcats. Now this may look just like a domestic pussy cat, but don’t be mistaken. This cat will rip your hand off. These cats can’t be handled after 5 weeks. They are untameable!!! They are one of the most ferocious and aggressive animals in the world. They are now becoming extinct due to interbreeding.
There was also the always chatty and playful otters. In Scotland whilst hiking we came across a lost baby otter in a stream. He had got washed away from his mum and he was crying out for her ever so loudly. We found this really stressful.
We loved observing the deer. We also observed the deer playing tag with each other. A game of chasing where the young deer got to prance and bounce which was such a joyful sight. This was something we hadn’t seen with wild deer on our travels.
This Reeves Muntjac deer introduced from China liked getting up close for a selfie. You have to love all the different animal personalities.
We both have a special love of owls. Rob was lucky enough to spot one in Wales in the wild. They really are a beautiful bird of prey.
Our visit here was like a tribute to all the animals we had seen over the last 5 months.
Our entry fee of 11 pounds fifty went towards conservation projects, research, breeding programs and saving British wildlife. We really enjoyed our day here!!!
On our way back to our Airbnb we stopped at the Hayling Billy Line Coastal Path for a walk and to spot some more beautiful bird life as the sunset.