As the weather becomes milder and we head outdoors, now is the ideal time to discover what interesting and amazing wildlife we share our beautiful county with
1. Your own garden
Before you head out for the day why not look closer to home and check out the wildlife in your own garden? Wildlife aware company Jacksons Fencing has brought the plight of the hedgehog to the attention of the public by producing hedgehog friendly fencing gravel boards with a hole large enough to allow hedgehogs free passage to roam between gardens to feed and breed.
• For more information on these and other Jacksons fencing products call 0800 408 4754, log on to www.jacksons-fencing.co.uk/ashfordlocal or visit Jacksons Fencing, Stowting Common, Ashford TN25 6BN
2. Betteshanger Country Park
You can explore this country park on foot or enjoy a ride on your bike on the two-mile Tarmac cycle track. With established woodlands, wetlands and reed beds there is plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for. The park also hold events, which have recently included birds of prey displays and a husky day.
• Off A258, Sholden, near Deal CT14 0BF, call 07824 569181 or visit the website www.betteshangercountrypark.co.uk
3. Port Lympne
If you’re looking for something a little more exotic on the wildlife front then award-winning wild animal park Port Lympne Reserve can get you up close to animals you would normally expect to find on the plains of Africa. From giraffes and elephants to gorillas and tigers, there are more than 88 species and 700 animals to see, set in 600 acres of beautiful ancient parkland. Enjoy going on safari and then explore the four on-foot zones.
• Located near Ashford CT21 4LR, call 01303 264647 or visit www.aspinallfoundation.org
4. Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation
Don’t forget to look skywards when searching for wildlife. And what better place to see birds in all their beauty than Eagle Heights? Home to one of the UK’s largest birds of prey centres, they have a collection of around 100 raptors. Having also expanded to include a wildlife sanctuary, you can also see meerkats, reptiles and more along with a husky experience.
• Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford DA4 0JB, call 01322 866577 or visit www.eagleheights.co.uk
5. Secret Seal Safari
Go in search of some aquatic wildlife with Dover Sea Safari who can take you out on the waves for two-hour Secret Seals Safaris. Enjoy the breath-taking white cliffs country coastline on the way to Pegwell Bay – a large nature reserve, known for its migrating wading birds and wildfowl, and its ‘Secret’ Seal colony.
• Dover Sea Safari, Dover Sea Sports Centre, Esplanade, Dover CT19 7FS, call 01304 212880 or visit www.doverseasafari.co.uk
6. Reculver Visitor Centre and Country Park
Kent Wildlife Trust’s reserve combines undeveloped coast, historic buildings and wildlife with commanding views across the estuary. With old sea forts, modern wind turbines and spectacular migratory birds, this award-winning, eco-friendly visitor centre is set in an extensive country park. Kestrel are resident all year and you can also see common lizards and mining bees.
• Reculver Lane, Herne Bay CT6 6SS, call 01227 740676 or visit www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk
7. South of England Rare Breeds Centre
On a beautiful 100-acre farm, an array of animals are waiting to greet you at the South of England Rare Breed Centre, from pigs and donkeys to cows and cockerels. There are also goats, Shetland ponies, Bashful the owl and tortoises, as well as a Creepy Crawly World, an aviary and a Butterfly Tunnel. Special events include falconry displays and there is also the chance to stroke the animals.
• Highlands Farm, Woodchurch, Ashford TN26 3RJ, call 01233 861493, www.rarebreeds.org.uk
8. Wildlife Heritage Foundation
WHF, the Big Cat Sanctuary, is set in the heart of the countryside. The site’s tranquility provides perfect conditions for breeding of the beautiful, yet endangered cats both large and small within its European Endangered Species Breeding Programme. Specialised experiences include being Ranger for the Day and photographic workshops as well as bespoke events.
• WHF, Headcorn Road, Smarden, Ashford TN27 8PJ, call 01233 771915 or visit www.whf.org.uk
9. Wildwood Trust
Set in 40 acres of ancient woodland, Wildwood Trust is a wildlife park and conservation charity with more than 200 British animals in semi-natural enclosures, laid out around a twisting woodland trail. See wolves, foxes, deer, badgers, owls, wild horses, lynx, beavers, wild cats, bison, squirrels, wild boar, otters and many more.
• Herne Common, Herne Bay CT6 7LQ, call 01227 712111 or visit www.wildwoodtrust.org
10. Kent Wildlife Trust
There’s plenty to look at off the shores of our county – and the Kent Wildlife Trust are trying to get marine conservation zone designation for the Dover to Folkestone and Dover to Deal sites to protect habitats and wildlife in the seas. Examples of rare and vulnerable marine wildlife in the South East are seahorses, stalked jellyfish, sea anemones and sponges, as well as marine features such as subtidal chalk reefs, mussel beds and rossworm reefs.
• For more information, call 01622 662012 or visit www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk