Newest Review: ... free map and can also purchase a £1.99 guide book, which does have a very child friendly breakdown of what to expect from the park as well ... more
Macaw blimey - there's birds everywhere!
Member Name: Mildew82
Advantages: Good price, great array of species, excellent facilities, plenty of activites
Disadvantages: A long day to see everything, may miss events if poorly planned
Birdworld, besides being a public zoo, also works towards conservation with local, national and international conservation projects looking out for blue tits, moths and butterflies, great bustards and endangered penguins and wildlife in the South American rainforest plus aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible with recycling and composting schemes so they are always grateful for donations which can come in the form of adopting an animal for a year which will pay for their upkeep. Education is also a priority with wildlife observation projects and the Outreach program which brings birds to schools, free workbooks to fill out round the park, pre-arranged specialised talks for groups from preschool to college including special needs schools plus the Keeper for the Day scheme which speaks for itself where people aged 16 years+ get to learn all the ins and outs of bird care or animal care on Jenny Wren's farm.
Address: Birdworld, Holt Pound, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4LD
Enquiries: 01420 22140
Bookings: 01420 22992
The easiest way to get to Birdworld looks to be by road as it is accessible via the A325 which can be reached either by the M25 or M3/J4 from which there are some early and recognisable brown signs with a chipper looking white cockatoo on directing you effortlessly to the centre where plenty of free parking (including disabled) is available. Alternatively, you could come in via train to Aldershot or Farnham but then you are looking at a fairly lengthy bus ride. For environmentally friendly people wishing to cycle their way in there are racks available for secure storage.
Opening times during the High Season (April-September) are from 10am until 6pm where the whole park is accessible.
Between October and December the opening times remain the same but accessibility fluctuates from the Mid, Low, and Limited Season options which means facilities like outdoor kiosks, the farm, displays etc. may not be operating so best check on the website for availability before embarking on your visit.
Type: High Season / Mid Season / Low Season / Limited Opening
Adult: £15.50 / £14.50 / £12.50 / £9.95
Child 7-15: £13.50 / £12.50 / £10.50 / £7.95
Child 3-6: £12.50 / £11.50 / £9.50 / £6.95
Child Under 3: FREE
Concession: £13.50 / £12.50 / £10.50 / £7.95 (1 carer can enter for £5.50)
Family (2 adults + 2 children): £49.95 / £46.95 / £39.95 / £30
==My Day: High Season==
Arriving about 45 minutes after the opening time the car park was still thankfully not filled up (my guess is despite sparkling sunshine, people were probably still anticipating the return of the monsoon like season recently replacing our usual summer) and there were no queues to purchase entry tickets so I'd already gotten off to a good start. With your ticket you get a free map and can also purchase a £1.99 guide book, which does have a very child friendly breakdown of what to expect from the park as well as interesting information about certain species of birds on display, along with mealworms and birdseed to feed the various birds as you go around...if flirting with beak related danger is your kind of thing...and from what I observed this is definitely something kids seemed to enjoy (although how Birdworld stops the birds suffering from crippling obesity is a mystery to me).
There are daily events to plan your day around - penguin feeding at 11am and 3:30pm, the owl prowl at 4pm where you can watch owls being fed and ask questions, regular Safari train rides which take you up and down past the big birds like ostriches, emus, rheas, cranes and storks with an undoubtedly informative commentary, The Heron Theatre show (running at 1pm on the day I visited but times may vary) which is an indoor presentation in a tent like structure showing off a range of birds, Animal Encounters at the Jenny Wren Farm where some of the cute and cuddly animals are brought out so people, namely kids, gets a chance to get up close and personal to them with help from the farmhands as well as the outdoor flying bird display with some unexpected bird choices (on at 2:45pm for my visit but may vary) but I decided to take the wander-around-without-looking-at-the-map approach just to see what came my way. There are plenty of signposts dotted around with "Suggested Route" written on them to help you work out a sensible route to take in all the sights in an efficient way, but as I discovered you won't bring about the apocalypse if you defy them.
So, upon leaving the information centre the first bird you meet is a blue macaw. Just gripping the fence with its talons and beak. Watching you. My first thought was I could be walking into some kind of Hitchcockian nightmare, but thankfully the majority of birds you encounter seem a bit more amiable so phew, it is a family friendly park after all. The next sight that greets you are flamingos on one side and a quaint duck pond on the other surrounded by a high flying fountain and beautiful greenery creating a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere to enjoy nature at its most tranquil (if you ignore the shrill squawks from I suspect the neighbouring cockatoos - the most likely culprits). The Temperate House is the first attraction to enter and in here you will find a few birds from more tropical countries that need the heating turned up just a notch and there is even a room with free flying (and quite large) birds in so you will need to be as slow moving and quiet as possible in here so as to not disturb them and cause that Hitchcockian reaction I was worried about. I'm of course joking about the physical assault but they have other, more unpleasant ways of getting revenge leaving you with a need to freshen up, so best be alert when passing through this section.
The remainder of Birdworld is divided up into themed outdoor aviaries, such as the parrot aviary or the crescent aviary which you visit at your leisure marvelling at the beautiful array of just some of the 150 species of birds housed at Birdworld, including but not limited to: exotically coloured ones such as love birds or the wonderful Himalayan Monal; owls and other birds of prey; parrots, macaws and mynahs which do mimic human speech in a startlingly realistic way; pheasants; flamingos; pelicans; seashore waders like the spoonbill in a recreation of a seaside shore complete with overturned boat and anchor; large birds like emus and rheas (I somehow didn't spot any ostriches but I assume they are there); Humboldt penguins...the list goes on and I'll stop before I bore you senselessly, but each bird has its own information board with basic origins and interesting facts about them with an easy to identify picture which I found a great way to learn about all the different kinds of birds, although of course by now I've completely forgotten everything. Some birds are more of an attraction than others such as the penguins who have both an island and a beach at their disposal so you may have to try to find off-peak times during the day to check these guys out but otherwise there is plenty of space in between all the aviaries and people move around fairly quickly in my experience so you won't have to wait long to see the birds.
There has also been a bit of time devoted to the surrounding areas around the aviaries to really enhance the ambience in the form of a sculptured woodland walk using bamboo to make a mini maze (as I discovered is a bit too small for an adult sized body), a willow "maze" just outside Jenny Wren's Farm (I use the term maze lightly as there are many routes through and frankly you could push your way through if you got really stuck), a Lost Trail (one for the kids) that take you on a trip to prehistoric times, plenty of small play areas with slides and climbing bars to give the parents a short break, a very neat looking topiary garden, a sensory garden which makes use of sound with flowing water and wind-chimes and smells with particularly pungent flowers and finally plenty of greenery just to top it all off. There are also a few kiosks dotted around everywhere to get a hot/cold drink, a snack or ice-cream and many park benches to stop and eat at or to simply have a quick break to soak up the peaceful atmosphere, all helping to make Birdworld such a fabulously relaxing place to visit.
The only daily event I actually attended was the flying display as the Heron Theatre was on when I was eating lunch and we were too pushed for time to squeeze in the train and watch the penguins being fed so I can only reiterate planning your day to fit all these in is essential. I have been to many flying displays in the past but was pleasantly surprised by the choice of birds in this one - the usual falcons and hawks were replaced with Mozart the Bengal Eagle Owl, two brother Kookaburras called Lou and Harold, Stanley the Caracara and the star Charlie the Macaw (who has his own Facebook page under the name Charlie Mac) and each bird was given a 5 minute or so slot to strut their stuff and rather amusingly they all seemed particularly put off by the largest crowd to date and stubbornly refused to do many a trick leaving the poor presenters floundering a tad. But the talks about each bird were very interesting and informative (assuming you could hear over the excited chattering from the kids) and watching the birds in action was most entertaining so I'd recommend trying to squeeze this event in if you can.
That just leaves the final two attractions Jenny Wren's Farm and the Underwater. Jenny Wren's Farm is a fairly small farm, but the first thing that will greet you is a strutting peacock presenting himself on display to practically everyone. Then there are all the usual suspects that can be admired / stroked including fluffy guinea pigs, chickens running about at your feet, pongy pigs, gruff goats and even reindeer and if you time it properly you can attend the special "Animal Encounters" event run by the farmhands. There are thankfully lots of hand-washing facilities using anti-bacterial soap upon leaving the farm to make sure everyone remains germ free if they've been handling the animals. There is also a pet shop here where you can buy rabbits, guinea pigs and a whole other assortment of animals so parents need to stay strong in the face of Puss-in-Boots eyes from their kids in this section or they could bring a whole menagerie home with them.
To get to the Underwater World you do need to exit through the main information centre back into the car park so for us it made sense to leave it until last, but you can go back through to Birdworld if you flash your ticket so it's not really an issue. The Underwater World is very small, basically one short circuit that will probably only take about 10 minutes but there are some great and often disturbingly odd looking creatures here that will probably thrill kids and tickle the fancy of adults. The displays seem to move around the tropical jungle, the oceans, reefs and freshwater and you'll get to see such animals as piranhas, catfish, tetras, a turtle, caimen, a dwarf crocodile and weird corals and sponges, with titbits of information about them located all around, so whilst it is quick (which could be a good thing considering the size of the whole attraction) there are a lot of fun animals to see so it is worth popping in to.
* There are three sets of toilets around the park, one at the entrance, one by the penguins and one at Jenny Wren's farm all with disabled and baby changing facilities. The toilets started off clean and well stocked at the beginning of the day and remained that way at the end so I was quite impressed by the cleanliness, even if the hand-driers were particularly feeble.
* Picnics are fine, with plenty of benches to settle on, snacks can be bought from the many kiosks, but if you want a proper meal you can visit the Puddleducks restaurant in the main information centre. Here they sell reasonably priced pre-made sandwiches and salads or you can choose from a selection of hot meals like jacket potatoes, lasagne, soup, fish and chips - the only thing I'd say is the menu is not overly helpful by being a bit vague. You can also get a nice array of teas and coffees and a selection of naughty looking desserts all to be eaten inside or out, and I had a very nice meal here of sausage roll, chips, mixed vegetables and tea for about £6.50.
*There are two gift shops, one in the main information centre and one at Underwater World and they were definitely more aimed at kids with stuffed toys, children's books, t-shirts, stationery but I did buy myself a couple of cool looking 3D animal posters - 2 for £9 which I didn't feel was overpriced.
* The Garden Centre is not part of Birdworld, but can be accessed from within the grounds or by driving further up in the car park once you leave Birdworld.
* Disabled access should be good around the park with disabled parking, very flat levelled walkways making wheelchair access possible, free wheelchairs for use (best book in advance) and assistance dogs are allowed to attend (all other dogs are banned as they'd probably go a bit loopy with all the birds around).
Birdworld is a fantastic place for fans of wildlife and families to visit with a beautifully relaxing atmosphere and gorgeous surroundings, a wonderful array of weird and wacky birds to look at from the colourful, to the noisy, to the just plain large as well as some farmyard and underwater animals to spice things up. There is plenty for kids to do with mazes, lost trails and playgrounds so they shouldn't get bored, there are some excellent facilities, the entry prices (3 attractions in 1) are very reasonable in my opinion and there is basically everything required to make for a peaceful day out - I cannot recommend the place highly enough. You just need to hope for good weather.
Summary: A fun family day out to enjoy nature and wildlife at a reasonable price
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