Whilst most Covid-19 related restrictions may have recently been lifted in the UK, many people, including myself, are choosing to remain cautious. For me, this means visiting places which are predominantly outside, and which still have some precautions in place so I can both enjoy a nice day out, whilst still being cautious and protecting myself and others from the virus. With this in mind, on a recent week off from work, I visited a wildlife park that could be considered a hidden gem in Berkshire – Beale Wildlife Park.
This wasn’t my first visit to Beale. I’d previously visited in July 2020 and enjoyed a lovely day out, so I already knew that the Park offered a good mix of animals to see, alongside plenty of space to make it easy to socially distance. Since my previous visit, the Park had added some new animals to its collection, thus providing the perfect excuse for a return trip.
Upon arrival at around 11:30am the car park looked relatively busy, something which did make me a little concerned that the Park was going to be more crowded than I’d anticipated. However, once inside it was clear that there was nothing to worry about. A significant majority of visitors that day were parents and toddlers taking advantage of Beale’s paddling pool and children’s play area. This meant that, for the main part, the animal enclosures were quiet and therefore allowed me to spend pretty much as long as I wanted at each one to both observe the animals and get plenty of practice at taking photos of them.
As it was a very warm day (in fact it was the first day of a week-long heat wave), some of the animals wisely chose to take it easy in the heat, with some deciding to remain in the cooler, indoor sections of their enclosures, and therefore out of view, whilst others (like the Carpathian lynx) decided it was best to have a nap during the hottest parts of the day. Some handled the heat in other ways. The capybara (always one of my favourite animals) had just been for a swim and were chilling on the banks of their pool. One of the parrots was having a great time playing in the spray from a hose which had been placed on the roof of its enclosure, whilst one of its companions in the enclosure kept shouting “hello” at any guest who walked past. The trio of otters were extremely playful in their pool, with one doing a typical otter thing of finding the perfect stone to play with.
Beale Wildlife Park also features some beautiful gardens which offer nice, secluded places to sit, as well as a place to take a relaxing stroll. These gardens provided me with an ideal opportunity to have an attempt at trying to get some landscape photos, something which I haven’t really managed to do with my camera so far, and also see what the 14-42mm EZ pancake lens that came with my camera could do. Whilst I definitely have a lot to learn, I’m pretty pleased with the shots I managed to get.
Overall, I would definitely recommend a trip to Beale Wildlife Park if you get the chance. Whilst it may not be the largest visitor attraction, it is definitely somewhere that you can spend a very enjoyable few hours.