Sometimes it’s not where you go, it’s when you go that makes a difference. Have you ever driven or walked through a familiar place at night and found it completely changed? Sometimes you don’t need to travel to somewhere remote, you just have to find a different way of viewing your surroundings.
We often visit Wildwood wildlife park and we enjoy the walk through the trees as much as looking at the animals. (When finding a place to sit and have a short break is part of the walk, it’s good to know there is a cafe and toilets, and the design of the pathways allows different length walks.)
Each trip is an adventure as there is no guarantee which animals we will spot, perhaps the bears are playing in their pond, or we might see a flash of pine martin darting through its enclosure. The herbivores; the deer and bison are usually visible and in the summer you can smell the wild boar before you spot them. If we visit at opening time, the reptiles are often still hidden away, they won’t appear until the sun has warmed their favourite basking places.
This time we visited on one of their limited evening sessions, so we wandered through the park as the light slowly faded away. The storks and cranes were all settling down for the night, as we passed they groggily lifted their head from under a wing to stare at us confusedly. The wild boar were sleeping outside enjoying the last of the sun and the bison lay on the ground like a grey-brown mountain. The only sign of movement was a cloud of dust thrown up from the soil near its nostrils each time it breathed out.
The lynx were chasing one another and looking ready for action, they prefer dawn and dusk for hunting, the owls were also alert, staring out at the strange visitors who normally would have left by this time.
The whole wood seemed to have a different atmosphere from day time when everyone marches around trying to spot as many animals as possible. People stopped to talk to one another, as they looked at the wolves having a nap before full night time descended. They pointed out the ripples left in the beaver pond, where the resident had swum into cover, hiding under the bridge as he realised the woods were not as empty as they normally would be for this time of night.
We finished with fish and chips from the kiosk, an unexpected surprise, as I was only expecting a limited serving of coffee and perhaps a sandwich. Sitting out in the woodland, enjoying the peace and quiet, and a nice meal, this felt like a totally different Wildwood and a wonderful experience.