Hi Lou, welcome to the Cameralabs forums!
You'll find all superzooms (with the possible exception of the Sony H9) are noticeably slower to use and respond than a DSLR - so while wildlife shots are possible, prepare for some frustration!
Also, as the ISO increases, all non-DSLRs become quite horrible in terms of picture quality, so again if you're shooting in low light, prepare yourself for a disappointment!
What you DO get with a superzoom though is a massive optical range in a small, light and affordable package that can also record video. So it's all about weighing up pros and cons and knowing what the limitations will be.
I really liked the FZ18, but for the best quality you really want to use it at 100 ISO. The stabilisation can help you do that, but in lower light or for moving subjects, you will need to increase the ISO, and that's when the quality suffers. But it may still be acceptable for your purposes.
See these pages:
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panas ... oise.shtml
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panas ... ages.shtml