Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

The British Wildlife Centre would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Of course its business as usual for us, we still have to feed and look after our many charges but I personally couldn't think of anything I would rather do on Christmas day... it is after all about spending time with our loved ones.



May I just remind you all that we are going to be open to the general public from the day after boxing day for one week. Sunday the 27th of December - Sunday the 3rd of January.

Good will to you all and best wishes for the coming New Year!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow at the BWC!

Heavy snow last night led to a very fun day at the Centre today! It was the first time many of our animals had seen the snow and they all took it in their stride. No surprises that Hedwig, the Snowy Owl, didnt seem phased at all and flew more beautifully than ever this afternoon. but the most fun to watch was our new arrival Flo, the fox. She was more crazy than ever, dashing around in the snow chasing snowballs and having great fun!

With more snow forecast next week and continuing cold weather, you never know... we could still have some of the white stuff left over come our Christmas open period.

Below are a few photos...

"Frodo" taking it in his stride


"Hedwig" don't think he even noticed...



"Minnie" as ever, the Otters are a joy to watch on the ice


"Eric" snow resting on his antlers



"Bonnie" you didn't think I would post photos of animals and not include a Pine Marten did you?






Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter members day: Sunday 17th January 2010

Just a quick reminder of our Winter members day which we are holding on Sunday the 17th of January 2010. The schedule is still not finalised but we are hoping it will be another good day and already we have had a lot of interest.

Full schedule with timings will be released nearer the time but look out for...

Our new Red Squirrel walkthrough enclosure!!!
Harvest Mice keeper talk.
Polecat keeper talk.
Flying owls.
and of course feed times with all your favourite BWC residents, old and new.
Hope to see you there!



Sunday, 13 December 2009

Red Squirrels

I have a passion for all British Wildlife as you can probably imagine, but for those of you who know me well you must know I have a certian soft spot for two animals in particular... One being the Red Squirrel!

We finally finished work on our new venture, our Red Squirrel walkthrough enclosure. What we beleive to be the only one of its kind currently in the UK. Needless to say we were all very excited about releasing our Squirrels out into their new home and it is something I have personally been looking forward to for over 5 years, ever since I first started here and David (owner) mentioned his idea to me!


We dressed the new enclosure up with special feeders as above and below to allow the Squirrels to get to their food but to keep the birds away from it. In time we may very well put up bird feeders for both the Squirrels and birds, but for now we are concentrating on making the Squirrels happy in their new enclosure.

As well as these feeders we have placed natural poles around linking trees to each other as well as some natural looking rope which doesn't detract too much away from the "wild" look but gives the Squirrels something else to play with while making their way around.

We cut back the trees from the edge of the pen to create a safe distance which they will hopefully not be able to jump out from, and then constructed double doors either end of the boardwalk as well as electrifying the boundry to not only help keep the Reds in but also stop any curious Grey Squirrels from entering.


A couple of weeks ago now I had a large sort out of our Squirrels and re set up the breeding pairs for next year. At the same time I moved 5 males into each of the smaller holding pens in the Copse. They stayed in those pens for a week and a half to establish them as new homes and then last Thursday we opened the doors of the enclosure leading out into the Copse and have since left them open.


Initially the Squirrels were a bit unsure and seemed to prefer the safety of their pens, but one brave male came out fairly soon and started to explore. Over the first day I beleive curiosity probably took over all of them as we started to see more and more Squirrels in the trees.


Nearing nightfall and we watched as the Squirrels slowly made their way back to their pens and the safety of their nest boxes. It could not of gone any better. In time we hope they will drey in the trees around the edge of the copse and not go back to their boxes, in fact I have noticed 2 Squirrels starting to build already.
The feeders have mainly been placed in the centre of the Copse so that they have to venture in and not out towards the boundry to find their food.

The plan is to watch these 10 Squirrels over the coming weeks and when the public are around after Christmas, and then shortly into the New Year I will release another 10 young males into the enclosure holding a further 3 back to be released on the day we have our official opening in the Spring of next year.


All going well and we hope it will provide not only a happy home for our Squirrels but also a fantastic place for you to relax in while watching our native squirrels and a great oppourtunity for all you budding photographers out there!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Foxes

Wednesday the 2nd of December this year we introduced our 2 young fox cubs, Luna and Flo, to Frodo inside the Barn section of the enclosure. The introduction went well and we seperated them again for the night. After another successful introduction the following day we decided to leave them in overnight and see how they settled down. Again the following morning they seemed fine, all curled up together... it seemed Luna was becoming rather dominant and even keeping Frodo at bay for first pickings of the food.

We finally introduced them together for the last time last Sunday in front of the Countryfile cameras and then left them together overnight before letting them out into the outside enclosure the following morning. Luna has recieved a small bite wound to her neck which is probably from Frodo re-establishing himself as the Master Dog, but it is superficial and they all seem very happy together.

Luna relaxing under the Gorse in her new home

Flo exploring the outside part of her enclosure
Flo in particular is a real handful and doesnt seem to stop moving! I think she will be a real challenge to you photographers out there to get a nice photo of her.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Wildcats

Kendra keeping an eye out over her new territory

About a week ago now we decided to slightly alter our Wildcat enclosures to allow for easier management. From a public point of view the changes may not be that obvious, but for us it has been a huge improvement!
We slightly raised the back part of all three enclosures to make it easier to access the very back of the enclosure where the wire netting meets the sloped ground. This allows us to get in there and keep it free overgrown plants making it easier to find the cats if they are not out and see any potential holes.
We then also changed some of the higher netting to a thin gauge wire as we have had problems this past Summer with wild Foxes entering the pens by chewing through the netting and then not being able to get out again!

This past Wednesday, 9th December, we introduced our two new kittens the main pens. Kendra was paired up with Lex in the centre enclosure while Iona was placed in the end pen with Angus (after removing Heather.)

The kittens both seem to have settled down very well and are enjoying their new found space. In fact the two boys barely have seemed to of noticed them, but I am hoping that all changes soon when they come into the breeding season!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Animals on the move

It's been a busy week so far introducing and moving animals around. Both Flo and Luna have been successfully introduced to Frodo and Pickles and now all four Foxes have access to both the inside and outside areas of the main enclosure.

We have introduced the two female Wildcat kittens out on display while allowing Heather to retire off site and...

This morning the doors where officially opened on the Copse Squirrel pens allowing them access to the walkthrough enclosure. The Squirrels have been seen out in the Copse already and I have managed to get a few photos to show off what oppourtunities await you budding photographers!

Look for individual update posts on all these moves, with photos, over the next couple of days!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Countryfile


To round of yet another busy week here at the Centre, yesterday, Sunday the 6th of December, Countryfile visited the Wildlife Centre to spend a day here filming for one of their highlight shows next year.

The Centre will be their base from where they link out to segments they have filmed elsewhere in previous episodes. Among the filmed stars are our new Foxes Luna and Flo, our Otters Oscar and Minnie, Wildcats, Red Squirrels, Ethel the Eagle Owl and many more (including some of the keepers!)

Look out for this episode due to be screened on January the 3rd 2010.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Walk through Red Squirrel enclosure


The time is almost upon us when we can start our new venture of the Walkthrough Squirrel enclosure. I have spent the last 2 days catching and moving our Red Squirrels around to set up new breeding pairs for next year and to set up an initial 10 Squirrels to be released into The Copse.
This week is the final week of preperations... feeders are going up, squirrels are getting used to their pens, poles and rope runways are being put in place and all the boundaries are being checked and double checked for a Sunday release!
On this coming Sunday, 6th December, we will open up the doors on the pens within the Copse and just let the 10 squirrels come out and explore at their own will. Fingers crossed they won't get out!
In other news:
The new male weasel has been given the name "Buck" (Ice Age 3 anyone?)
Flo has settled in extremely well with Luna and formed a strong pair bond. This week they will be introduced to Frodo and Pickles.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

New Fox!


We have recently gained a new fox... pictured above is a young vixen we have named "Flo". She came from a rescue centre which had reared her and then after a couple attempts of releasing her only to find her appear back on their doorstep the following morning decided to re-home her permanently.
We are currently housing her in with our reared cub, Luna, and they have already formed a strong bond and has provided Luna with the much needed "foxy" company.
Later in the week we will introduce Luna and Flo to our main dog fox Frodo and his sister Pickles in the main fox enclosure. Hopefully they will accept each other readily and Frodo will be able to start his own family carrying on the genes of both Buster and Honey.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Ratus ratus

Our rats have been in high demand over the last few months. Many of our Black and Brown rats were donated to a small collection to help freshen their bloodlines within their colonies. I took 21 of our Brown rats to Wildwood, Herne Bay, today to help them set up a new colony. Our Black rats were used at Tulleys Farm scarefest at their recent halloween festivities and now they are currently in Bristol being filmed for a televsion programme.




It may just be me but don't you think Black Rats are really pretty? If you can call a rat pretty then the black rat must be it!!!

Update: Toni the Tawny Owl went to School yesterday and was a huge hit with the kids, I feel he will be very popular with visitors and a real asset to the centre

The young weasel is growing very fast and becoming quite a character (Ouch!). He will be on display for the Christmas open period in our Hedgerow display before moving up to one of the photographic pens for our 2010 Spring opening onwards.

Friday, 13 November 2009

"Tony" Owl

A new Owl has joined our educational team in the form of a Tawny Owl...

This male Tawny Owl arrived at the BWC a little over a year ago from "Animaline" charity where he was rescued and reared from a chick. We origianlly put him out on display in our avairy with our other Tawny Owls until recently we decided to have a "friendly" Tawny Owl for handling purposes. Tony was the obvious choice with his start in life.

We caught him up last weekend and already he is a pro, sitting beautifully on the glove and having done his first private group appearance yesterday evening. On Monday he will have his first School trip when we present a talk on British Owls to Notre Dame Primary School in Lingfield.

Good luck Tony!

Monday, 9 November 2009

What's the difference between a Stoat and a Weasel?

...............................Weasels are weasely recognised and Stoats are stoatily different :)


Ok, so I apologise for that but the number of times we keepers hear that joke during the year its nice to get my own back! The reason for the appauling pun? The BWC has a new arrival, a Weasel!

Shy on arrival, his first day here at the BWC


This young weasel was caught by a cat and brought to the Centre this last weekend. At first glance of his head popping out of the sock he was in it looked like a young female, but after he decided to emerge to see his new home we realised it was infact a young male from a late litter. For this he is now being kept off display just until he reaches full growth and we know that he has suffered no injuries from the cat that found him.

All going well and he will be out on display in one of our photography enclosures (by the Polecats) before the end of the year!

Currently spending his evenings at home with me

He has settled down and become quite lively, showing off his teeth!

Even starting to use them!!! Luckily he isn't strong enought to break skin... yet!

But he soon wears himself out with all the 'rough 'n' tumble'

He has yet to be named, so any ideas then feel free to let me know.

I will be sure to update you all on his progress and when he eventually goes out into his new home.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Welcome

Hello readers. Hope you are all well and enjoying the mild start to the Autumn and welcome to the BWC's first blog entry of what will be a popular and informal journal of the comings and goings here a the British Wildlife Centre.

I will make every effort to keep you up to date with various news and information about the animals throughout the year, especially during the next few months when of course we are closed to the general public.

In particular look forward to blog posts about the progress of our Owl chicks flying training, youngsters being moved onto display ready for the viewing public, new arrivals and of course progress on our new venture the "Walkthrough Red Squirrel enclosure."






Deer Rut

Anyway, what better way to start the official blog than with a typical Autumn scene. "The Rut"

This year Eric, our Master Red Stag, reigned supreme with very little challenge from Alfie thus making him the dominant stag now for a few years.... but look out Eric, Alfie is getting very confident and I am sure will give you a good run for your money next year.

As for our Fallow Deer, William our younger pale buck put up a great challenge to Norman. Unfortunately it was drawn to a short conclusion when, as this video footage shows, he lost his antler in one of the clashes. Luckily only his pride was hurt and I am sure he will be up for the challenge again next year, meanwhile congratualtions to Norman who remains for another year our Master Buck.

video

While watching this video you will hear a loud "crack" and then see William run off with one less antler.