I have somewhat fallen in to that trap again; becoming increasingly busy and forgetting (read: being too lazy) to blog. I have lots of important life-updates to share with you when I find the time and inclination to sit down and write about them but, for now I’ll just share a few photos and words about a wonderful day out we had a few weekends ago.
Hamerton zoo is roughly a twenty minute drive down the road from us. In the back of my mind I always thought I would pay it a visit but as so often happens in life things got hectic and I quite forgot about it. We’ve been in SNO for around a year and four months now and finally had a weekend free from plans so we decided to take a trip down there to see the animals.
It was a blustery Saturday – all heavy clouds threatening rain and moody sky. I had hoped for sunshine and tried to channel it with a bright outfit- but it being the last weekend in January it wasn’t to be. As we pulled in to the car park at Hamerton zoo we spotted a huge kite swooping low overhead, searching out prey.
As we entered the zoo it began to rain lightly – much to my dismay. But we were fortunate enough that the zoo has a very unique layout, where all enclosures can be accessed by walking a winding path with a sheltered roof. The layout was one of the first things that really impressed me about Hamerton zoo – everything was easy to access and in an order that meant you didn’t have to trace your steps backwards to see everything as you often have to with zoos that are vast and sprawling. Although we were handed a map it was quite easy to navigate the enclosures without one.
Hamerton zoo park is home to a vast array of animals from big cats to birds. None of the animals are forced in or outside of their enclosures though (thankfully!) So what you see will change on any given day. On the day we visited we were very lucky to see the animals that we did.
We started out with the smaller mammals. Enclosures ranged from aviaries (for the adorable little chipmunks) to bigger enclosed areas with branches, natural foliage and plenty of spots to hide for lemurs/meerkats etc. My absolute favourites were a pair of adorable Bruce’s Yellow Spotted Hyrax. I had never even heard of these prior to my visit so was fascinated to discover them.
Further down the walkway we discovered a cluster of aviaries housing many different and exotic birds. G and I are both very much “bird people” so we probably spent the most time here, taking photos and trying to make the friendly kookaburras laugh. I was most impressed by the variety of birds on display. Everything from snowy owls to lilac breasted rollers. My favourites were the tawny frogmouths. I can’t recall ever seeing these in person before, but have always loved them. They are quite comical with their wide set beaks – almost like cute little puppets.
And of course no aviary is complete without some quail. G and I currently own five Japanese quail and five button. But despite that whenever we see a quail we can’t help but get excited and coo over it – there’s just something so sweet and lovable about them. We sat and watched the Japanese quails peck about in the aviary for the longest time.
Further down the walkway we discovered the outback aviary – a huge indoor enclosure that you can walk through. This particular aviary is home to Australian birds – budgies and zebra finches. Again, I have owned both budgies and zebra finches but will always get super-excited to see them at a zoo. The enclosure was absolutely huge and well-stocked with branches, nest boxes – basically anything and everything a little bird could want. It was lovely to watch them flying around, making nests, flapping about in stone baths and going about their lives. We spent a lot of time inside the aviary just enjoying the atmosphere and taking photographs.
Our next stop was the outdoor enclosures for the big cats. By this point the wooden pathways had stopped and gave way to open field and vast wire-fenced pens. The rain had stopped and the sun had begun to peek out from behind the cloud so our timing could not have been better.
We were extremely lucky to catch the breath-takingly beautiful corsac fox in its fluffy winter coat. The enclosure in which it lived had lots of little dens for the foxes to slumber in. Shortly after I snapped a photo the corsac fox actually returned to a den and was hidden away from sight so I was thankful that I had managed to see it at all.
We were also lucky to witness a cheetah get up close to the fence before rolling around in the grass looking for all it’s worth like an oversized house cat.
The last big cat we managed to catch was a stunning albino tiger. As the sun had began to warm the day it had wandered outside to catch the rays and lazily watch over the visitors. There were a few big cats that we didn’t quite manage to spot, but all-in-all we very happy and lucky to see the ones we did.
Our last stop of the trip was the stroll-a-safari. An area of field with pygmy goats, emus and more. There is a feeding station in this part of the zoo, and you can pay 20p to release a handful of food to feed the goats with. Of course these smart little animals were eagerly anticipating food so we didn’t get the chance to feed them from our hands – they ate directly from the machine! It was really fun to be able to get up close to the goats though, and G was particularly pleased to have his photo taken with them. I just love the way they always look like they’re smiling!
We spent a good few, happy hours at the zoo, taking a slow walk through the enclosures and attractions. I can honestly say this was one of my favourite zoo parks to visit and I was very impressed with the variety of animals and how well-cared for they were. I will definitely return on a warmer day and hopefully catch some of the critters I missed!