Monday, 13 August 2018

Photo of the Month: July 2018

"Polecats in Hammock" by Nicholas Armitt

Instagram provides the photos for last months photos of choice, and we have selected this one above of our polecat pair sharing their hammock taken by Nicholas Armitt.

Nicholas's photo will be on display in our coffee shop gallery next year, and will be in with a chance to win a photographic day here at the Centre when all 12 images have been selected.

To see more of Nicholas's photos, or any of the photographers below, click on the link in their name to go to their instagram pages.

"Wildcat Snarl" by Kieran M

Monday, 6 August 2018

Floki the Barn Owl

Can you believe it?!. This is Floki, our new barn owl, who only a few weeks a go was an ug.. eh, was a little ball of fluff. All owls grow and change quickly from hatching to 12 weeks, but I always think barn owls go through the biggest change in look.

Floki was kindly donated to us by Osney Farm Lodge as a young chick. Keeper Tom took on the role of surrogate mum, and took him home with him each night to rear and spend time with. 

A couple of weeks later and he was beginning to sit on his own, and become a little more upright... although still a ball of fluff. Heart shape face beginning to take shape.

Another couple of weeks, and he was a pro at standing. Still a lot of fluff, but some actual feathers growing through underneath all that. You can see the classic heart shaped face developing well.

Another week, and the change is speeding up. Adult feathers really pushing through now, and beginning to do small hops and flights. It only took another week or so for Floki to lose all his baby fluff, and he is now on display in one of our aviaries...

... and also in our owl display. Training is going well, and Floki is now a full member of our flying team, being shown off in some of our displays.

It's been a while, and since we are still open everyday for the summer holidays, a quick update. Our other owlets are doing well. Two little owls which are in training for the flying team, and the two tawnies which will soon be a part of the display too. 

Our ravens have settled in extremely well, and have been popular with many visitors. 

Our three badger cubs are exploring a little more each day, and slowly getting used to being out and about with the public. Still mostly seen at the end of the day when it is a little quiet, but a few of our visitors have spotted them out during the middle of the day too.

As with previous years, it seems to be the summer when our grass snakes become more active. This really hot weather has forced them in to hiding during the middle of the day, but they have both been seen out basking at the beginning and end of opening. 

And it seems to be a good year for our water voles on the reserve, with a lot of visitors mentioning they have seen them swimming and out on the banks down there. Great news!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Ravens on Display

Our pair of ravens are now on display in their new aviary, and just in time for the summer opening period as we are now open every day for the summer until the 3rd of September. They are in the new aviary on the left hand side as you head towards the wetland boardwalk. A lovely large aviary, with extra height, which gives them some great roosting areas to overlook the whole Centre and much of the reserve too. 

Our two are still young, and although pretty much fully grown, will still take a while to fully mature, bulk out and develop into adult plumage and look. Ravens are the largest members of the crow family, differing from the others not only in size but also with their heavier built and larger black beak, their more wedge like shaped tail when flying and ruffled shaggy feathers around the throat and above the beak.

Huginn and Muninn, as we have called them, came to us as very young chicks from a corvid rescuer and raven breeder local to us. Hand reared from this young age, they are very friendly, and enjoy human interaction.

Ravens are fascinating birds, and it will be great for visitors to see and hear about them over the coming weeks. I think for me the most interesting things about them are the folklore, myths and history through different cultures. Their names for example, Huginn and Muninn, come from the names of the Norse god Odin's two ravens. Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) would fly over the world, and report back to Odin.

And of course, perhaps most famous, Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven"

You will see our ravens long before you get to their avairy. They love to perch up high, which gives them a view of the Centre and a chance for you to see them above the owl aviaries as you wander down towards them.

Don't forget that we are now open for the summer holildays, everyday until the 3rd of September. Hope to see many of you here over the next few weeks.