Go nuts at Wildwood this autumn

Wildwood are asking wildlife lovers to help us harvest this year's bumper crop of autumn nuts to help feed our animals.
This year has been a bumper year for acorns, walnuts and sweet chestnuts, so much in fact that they are falling out of the trees faster than Wildwood's animal keepers can collect them, and Wildwood are asking for help collecting them to make sure we have enough to feed our animals this coming winter.
Wildwood's wild boar adore sweet chestnuts and acorns and our red squirrels can't wait to get their paws on this season's hazel nuts and walnuts. But they need your help. As a big thank you we are giving away a free children's return ticket, or a special prize for members, for every carrier bag full we receive.
You can collect the nuts from the paths around Wildwood or from trees in parks or your garden! As a charity we have to save every penny so we can spend it on our innovative conservation projects, that is why it is so important that we get help to harvest our natural food source.
To claim your free ticket or prize, simply hand in a carrier bag full of hazel nuts, acorns, walnuts or sweet chestnut (only one type of nut per bag and no conkers please!) to the shop.
Wildwood's 'Wildlife Conservation Park' is an ideal day out for all the family where you can come 'nose to nose' with British Wildlife. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here, like the wolf, beaver, red squirrel, wild boar and many more.
Wildwood is situated close to Canterbury, just off the A291 between Herne Bay and Canterbury. For more information visit our website at www.wildwoodtrust.org or telephone 0871 7820081.
1. Whilst at Wildwood please stick to the marked paths. Don't feed any of the animals, some of them may bite and if an animal is given the wrong food or too much food it can make them very ill.
2. Don't eat any of the nuts; they could make you feel very sick!
Top 10 Acorn and Oak Tree Facts
· Pigs love Acorns and up until recently many farmers allowed their pigs to run through woodlands in the autumn eating this excellent food which helps fatten them up so they can survive the winter
· Oak trees don't have acorns until they are at least 50 years old
· The Anglo-Saxon name for oak was aik, so the seed was known as aik-com. English oaks bear them on stalks, sessile acorns are stalkless.
· In a good year a mature oak tree may produce around 50,000 acorns.
· Oak trees are an important habitat for wildlife and provide a home for more species of wildlife than any other European tree. Squirrels and many birds shelter, feed or nest in the canopy and many insects eat the leaves. Mosses, lichens and algae and insects live on or in the bark, and acorns feed all sorts of animals such as deer, squirrels, rabbits, mice and birds. Even when a tree dies it continues to provide food and shelter for wildlife as it slowly decays. In fact an oak tree is really just like a big wildlife hotel!
· Oak trees are deciduous which means they lose their leaves in winter. Like other deciduous trees, oaks have wide flat leaves from which water is easily evaporated. In winter when the ground is cold or frozen, it is difficult for trees to take up enough water through their roots, so in autumn as the days become shorter and darker, trees lose their leaves and 'sleep' through the winter. Then in spring as the days become longer and brighter, the tree produces a whole new set of leaves.
· In May oak trees also produce two types of flowers. Male flowers hang in long catkins from the twigs and female flowers appear at the tips of the twigs. Pollen from the male flowers is carried to the female flowers by the breeze and the female flowers eventually turn into seeds called acorns. By the autumn the acorns are ripe and fall to the ground. Many are eaten by animals such as deer, squirrels, mice and rabbits and by birds such as jays and rooks. But hopefully some will land or be dropped on the soil and germinate the following spring.
· An oak seedling may reach a height of 30cm in its first year but it has a long way to go! Oak trees are very long lived and can live for 1000 years or more!
· There are two species of oak native to Britain:
- The English Oak (Quercus robur) is a massive tree and can grow up to 40 metres in height. It has a short trunk, long branches and a huge crown. The leaves have 4 or 5 lobes (rounded wiggles) on each side and don't have stalks. The acorns of English oaks are attached to the twig by long stalks.
- The Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) can also grow up to about 40 metres in height. It has a longer trunk than the English Oak. and a fan shaped crown. Its leaves are also a rounded wiggly shape in outline, but unlike the English oak, leaves of the sessile oak grow on stalks. The acorns are stubbier and they don't have stalks.