23 Jun 2015

Otters, Owls and Deer

Out of my favourite animals, otters are most definitely in the top three.  They are part of an obsession of mine that has existed since I was able to swim, where any opportunity I got to spend time in a pool would be spent indulging my love of the critters further by pretending to be one as I swam underwater.  When I found out that there was an otter sanctuary just across the Peaks from me, to say I got excited is somewhat of an understatement.

Our destination was the Chestnut Centre, an owl, otter and wildlife park.  The centre works in conservation and rehabilitation of wildlife, rescuing injured and abandoned animals.  I love nature attractions that have a positive reason for existing and conservation at the heart of what they do.
On arrival we were met by a herd of deer feeding near the path which cut through a field en route to the animal enclosures.  To see them up close was just wonderful, seeing as they are such nervous creatures.  It was funny to watch them chomping away on their lunch too!
At the end of the field we entered a wooded valley where we found the enclosures, dotted either side of a beautiful stream and surrounded by gorgeous wild flowers.

There were all types of owls nestled in amongst the trees, sat on their perches.  A favourite of which was the Burrowing Owl, obviously not on a perch, but snoozing on the ground next to its burrow.
I also loved the majestic Great Grey Owl, with their piercing stare.  I actually got to hold one of these wonderful creatures last year when I visited here.
In the distance we could hear the playful squeaks of a couple of Asian Short-Clawed Otters, who had scaled the wire around their enclosure and were shouting in our direction.  They ran alongside the perimeter as we walked to a viewing platform where they continued to be ridiculously entertaining.

There was another enclosure with three Asian Short-Clawed Otters who were just as hilarious, especially when one rolled on its back and juggled playfully with a rock.


The Eurasian Otters and North American River Otters were equally as gorgeous, if a little more reserved and less vocal than their smaller cousins.  Watching the way they moved with such ease and grace in the water was almost hypnotic.
The Giant Otters, natives of South America, were so amazing to watch.  They look like a bizarre cross between a seal and a weasel and they made the strangest squeaky barks as they played in the water.  

I learned that they are in fact the most vocal of all otter species in order to keep in contact with other members of their family groups, plus males can grow up to 1.7m from head to tail (that's almost as long as me)!

They are also an endangered species due to loss of habitat and hunting for their fur. The Chestnut Centre is in fact part of the international breeding programme for Giant Otters to help protect their declining numbers.
Other breeds of mammal at the centre including Scottish Wildcats, Pine Martens, Red Foxes and European Polecats.

As ever with animal exposure, I found my reluctance to leave so overwhelming and I would totally recommend the Chestnut Centre if you're in the area, it's a definite must-see!

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20 comments

  1. The Chestnut Centre looks incredible! These photos are amazing. I'd love to go and see all these wonderful animals. I have a soft spot for owls, but otters are amazing too. Never knew they could get as long as 1.7m!

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings

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    1. It was such a lovely place to visit and made me giddy like a kid again! x

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  2. oh my gosh... cuteness overload! ^___^ ♡

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  3. Ah I love this place...haven't been for ages...hope they still have the field mice in the café ...not running free of course;)

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    1. Yesss they do! Didn't get any decent pics of them as they're so teensy x

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  4. Owls kinda freak me out (birds generally do) can't imagine them being so big! The deers look beautiful! I've never seen one up close but they always look so pretty on pictures. I never knew there were so many types of otters. They are SOOO adorable! I love your pictures of them :)

    X Carina | Running White Horses

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    1. Haha oh dear, I love how weird so many owls look, plus how big they are yet how quiet. Thank you :) x

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  5. Wow! These photos are all so gorgeous and the last one of that deer is so funny! What an awesome place to visit!

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  6. All of the animals are so cute! I love owls and you took some amazing photos! I didn't know there were so many kinds of otters! They're all adorable, I would have found it so hard to leave as well! :)
    xx
    Kenzie
    Behindhazeleyes06.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Kenzie :) They're all adorable aren't they? x

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  7. This kind of place is right up our street, my partner is obsessed with otters. Such a shame it's so far away from us as I'm not sure where up here has any species other than the ASC!
    You got such beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing.

    Danielle xo
    www.underlandtowonderland.com

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    1. What a fine obsession to have ;) Thank you so much x

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  8. Definitely going there. Andrew LOVES otters, and I'm more than a little partial to them myself <3 xxx

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  9. Awwwww and again awwwww! These are three of my favourite animals so I have to visit this place. I love your photos, especially the little otter yawn and deer poking his (her?) tongue out :)

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    1. Thank you :) That's one of my faves too, such a cutie x

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  10. Gorgeous photos! Looks like a lovely wildlife park. I always think deers are just the cutest things! that owl looks a bit crazy haha x

    Sinead | Dreaming Again

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    1. Thanks! They can look a little odd, but I think that adds to their charm :) x

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