Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Surf 'n' Wolf: Born to be Wild!

Last weekend Bev and I went to North Devon. For an anniversary present Bev had bought me a place on the Wolf Pack Management course that is run at Coombe Martin Wildlife Park. It started at 10am, so rather than drive down stupidly early on Sunday, we went down on Saturday. This fortuitously coincided with a rather pleasant swell rolling in to North Devon's beaches, which I was able to take advantage of! It's been a while since I have surfed three times in one day, but I managed to catch some really nice waves. Pete Bod came down Saturday evening and we managed to get a surf in before the sun went down. Which was nice.

The next day dawned somewhat gloomily, with a thick sea mist/drizzle draped over the hills. A twenty minute drive from our hotel brought us to the wildlife park, where shortly afterwards I met Linda, our instructor for the day, and the two other course members. I won't go in to all the stuff we learnt here, do the course yourself if you want to find out more, but I will mention the opportunities we had to observe the wolves up close.

We went down to the enclosures on three occasions and were able to go beyond the usual perimeter that the mere public have to stay behind and get right up to the fences. The pack followed standard operating procedure as we approached and then we were allowed to place our hands close to the fence were we were sniffed and scented. It was pretty awesome!

The Pack

The Enforcer

After lunch we were able to watch a presentation by Shaun Ellis, during which the pack were fed. They made pretty quick work of the bull calf carcase they were presented with, but in a very ordered and controlled way. The Alpha wolf oversees the operation and the rest of the pack wait their turn according to their rank. Do what you're told or else:

Something we learnt during the afternoon was the type of howling that wolves use. Linda demonstrated this to us and sometime later, on our final visit to the wolves we were encouraged to give it a go. Overcoming our English reserve we stood howling away, out of sight of the packs. After about three good howls suddenly all hell broke loose from the wolf enclosures and we got spectacular return howling. Absolutely brilliant! We continued on our way down to say goodbye to the packs. None of us wanted to go, but eventually, under threat of being locked in, which I don't think we would have minded we made our way back to the carparks.

If you get the chance to do the course I definitely recommend it!


  1. Awesome!also what is glowing under the sea on pic 1.. you got ya self an Et there my friend.
    also also-"on our way down to see goodbye to the pack"

  2. I have no idea what the glowing is! We didn't see it at the time, but I'm guessing it's just light refracting through the wave or something though...