Friday, 28 November 2014

Buster Update

Our otter cub, Buster, has been out a bit more frequently this past week. One of the days I was lucky enough to see him have another swimming lesson from mum... well I say swimming lesson... he seems to be pretty adept at doing it himself now, but this doesn't stop Emmy from grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and dragging him off through the water!

At least he doesn't scream anymore when she does this...

Here they are diving in together, and below you can see how small he still is... although growing fast! Remember, you can click on these photos to see them slightly larger if you wish.

As always I must remind you there are no guarantees he will be out this weekend if you are planning on visiting the Centre, but the sightings are becoming more frequent.

To see some of our other otters enjoying some huge trout for dinner, click on the "More BWC Photos" tab at the top of this page.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wildcats on the Move

Earlier this week saw us say goodbye to our remaining three wildcat kittens bred here last year! It is always sad to see animals we have cared for and built a bond with leave, but this is exciting for wildcat conservation!

Cormac, Glen and Heather, born in the Spring of 2013, have been amazing ambassadors for wildcats and are now moving on to play a vital role in the future of wildcat releases back to Scotland. They have been collected by the New Forest Wildlife Park, where within the next few weeks they will be relocated along with others to an area in Scotland for the initial phase of the programme.

We will miss their acrobatics, as I am sure you will too, but wish them good luck for the future. I will bring you news as and when I can on how they and the plans are going.

This of course means our first wildcat enclosure is now vacant, and so will see us have a move around of cats in the coming week to allow both pairs to be in the main wildcat pens. This may also mean a return to keeper talk duty for MacTavish... Good luck to whichever keeper is going to do that... Just remember to wear thick boots!

Monday, 24 November 2014

BWC Photo Comp 2014 "JUNIOR" Shortlist

It is that time already when we start to announce the shortlisted entries for our photographic competition. This year has seen our most popular competition with over 600 photographs submitted over the past 9 months. This year Professional Wildlife Photographer David Llyod will be selecting his favourites to win each category. Check out his website, linked in his name, to see some amazing wildlife photography, David runs workshops here at the BWC, but is perhaps better known for his African wildlife photographs and inspiring black and whites. He currently has a book out "As long as there are animals" and I can highly recommend it!

So, let's get straight to it... First off is our "Junior" category for young photographers 16 years old or under. This year we had over 40 entries, and as always it was a difficult decision to narrow the field down to the shortlisted ten...

BWC Photo Comp "JUNIOR" Shortlist

Eagle Owl - Amy Stanwell

Intense stare of a hungry fox - Ben Duursma

Stoat - Emma Coates

Fox - Grace Redington

Rabbit's stare - Lauren Smewing

Hello Mr Hedgehog - Mike Jordan

Long eared owl - Mya Bambrick

Wildcat - Rio Surendran

Roly poly - Ross Madagan

Red Squirrel - Thomas Ivory-Bray

Winners and runner-ups will be announced over the early part of next year. Good luck to all the photographers above!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Update and Harvest Mice

In the past the winter months have seen a lack of "exciting" animal news. We slow down with bookings, and spend the time tidying enclosures and managing the reserve. It means this blog is dominated by the photographic competition, and shortlist announcements, but this year things are different. We have a few bits and pieces of news to bring over the nest couple of weeks, and so will be posted alongside the competition shortlists.

Departures, new arrivals, release footage and updates all happening over the next month. Oh... and of course we will keep you up on how little ol' Buster is doing in the otter pond!

With the weather being milder than usual for this time of year, it means our smaller mammals breeding season has been extend. This is most noticeable with our breeding harvest mice, who although many have stopped breeding, a few pairs have had recent litters.

It is not the best time of year for releases, and so our programmes go on hold. But this year has seen a demand in these little mice for display at other collections and colleges. They are such an easy display to set up, and manage, but have a huge impact with most people falling in love with them. This means our youngsters will likely be moving on to new homes in the coming weeks to local colleges and collections. This will give us the space to continue to breed next year for more exciting release programmes, on and off site!

The photographic competition has now closed, and we have had over 600 photos submitted! An amazing turn out, and many thanks to all who have entered. Shortlisting is taking place now and the photographs to be judged by Professional Wildlife Photographer David Llyod!

David Lloyd will be selecting the winning photograph from each category (each winning a years membership to the BWC, and a place in our gallery in the coffee shop) and I will be choosing my favourite as runner-up (also gaining a place in our gallery). The overall winner will win an exclusive day of photography here next year, where being on their own I will be able to tailor the day a bit more to what they may like. The last couple of years have seen us choose the bluebell season to get some owls in bluebells!

The shortlisted photos will be up on the blog from next week. One category per week, hopefully every Monday, starting this coming Monday with the "Junior" category. The winners will then be announced at the beginning of next year, by the end of January/early February.

Good Luck to all who have entered!

After setting up the photographic competition five years ago, it has progressed and gone from strength to strength, even gaining nationwide recognition earlier this year in the national news papers... therefore it is a shame that I am saying to you now that it will be taking a hiatus next year.

However, personally I am still very keen to recognise the amazing photographs that are taken here every year, and so I have a plan up my sleeve to still be able to so this. It won't be the same, but will hopefully still be something you look forward to and will mean we can keep our gallery in the coffee shop going for the following year! I will also try and get the office on board with a few prizes. It will be more laid back, but then hopefully a bit more accessible too.

More on that next year, for now get ready to see some great photographs from this years competition over the coming weeks!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

BWC Photo Competition Closed

This years photographic competition has now closed, thank you to all who entered and good luck!

After a late surge this has been one of our most popular competitions in terms of number of entries submitted. I have only quickly skimmed over the numbers, but it is very close to 600!

As with previous years, the shortlisted photos for each category will be shown here on the blog over the coming weeks with the winners and runner ups announced over the early part of next year. This year's main judge is professional wildlife photographer David Lloyd who will be selecting the winners of each category.

Good luck to all who entered!

Monday, 10 November 2014

BWC Photo Competition

Just a reminder that this is the last week that have to enter out BWC Photographic Competition for 2014. The closing date is this Friday the 14th of November. For more details on the competition and how to enter either click on the tab above for "Photo Comp" or go to our main website.

This year has shown some complications in entering via flickr, and I think it is due to them changing their website a lot and having different betas running etc. Therefore we have been recommending to people that it may be easier to enter this year by email.

Over the last few weeks we have had a number of entries submitted, after the deadline these will all be shortlisted down for David Lloyd, Professional wildlife photographer, to select the winning images.

We are still a little disappointed with the number of photos entered in to our "Junior" category, so if you are under 16 years of age... or know a budding photographer who is a Junior, then please do encourage them to submit a couple of photos for this years competition.

Good luck to all who enter!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Buster Makes and Appearance

OK... Firstly, I brought you news of our new otter cub Buster yesterday, so if you haven't seen that post yet scroll down to read a bit more.

Secondly... I said he was 6 weeks old, but checkin this record card it is actually 7 weeks ago yesterday that he was born.

Thirdly... Isn't he so cute!

After saying it would probably be a couple of weeks till he emerged, he was out this morning for the first time! Usually I would estimate that eight weeks is when we may start to see the cubs, so he is a week early, but not too much of a surprise being the only cub... he will develop a little quicker with all the attention from mum.

First job of the day was to move his older brother Franklin to the middle pond. This went smoothly and we thought nothing of it, but on the way back past the main pond we heard a high pitched scream. I really wish I had my video camera with me then to record it for you, as it really is a terrifying sound if you don't know what it is, and I knew straight away it was Buster.

Experience told me not to worry, he is probably being dragged around by mum in the water, but it still gets me every time so I had to go and check he was alright... Of course he was, and it was just his first swimming lesson. Fair to say he didn't enjoy it!

As soon as Emmy saw me, she dragged him out on to the bank and he soon settled. I left it a bit then went down later with my camera and managed to get a couple of photos, including throne above of him trig to run away from mum before she grabs him by the scruff of the neck and hauls him back in to the rushed.

And Elwood's role in all this... he seemed pretty oblivious. Showing no signs of missing Franklin, and not much interest in Buster. I am sure this will change as the days move on though as I remember him being such a good dad to Franklin, even helping Emmy with taking food back and teaching him to swim.

No guarantees of course if you try to come and see Buster, but I promised to let you know when we see him out, and today was the first morning he has been spotted out and about. I would imagine another few weeks would make it more likely to see him, but then of course he will be bigger. They grow fast.

Friday, 7 November 2014

New Otter Cub

Let me introduce you to one of our newest members of the BWC family... We have a young male otter cub, only six weeks old, who we have named Dann.... eh, I mean "BUSTER"

Little Buster was born here six weeks ago from mother Emmy, and fathered by Elwood. He is a chubby little thing, being the only cub born again where usually you would expect two or three. But this means he gets all of mums attention and so is growing fast.

Earlier this week I took our vet down to see him and microchip him for licensing reasons. While there we made sure he was nice and healthy, and sexed him.

You may think the gloves are overkill for this little one... and to be fair, they were! Little Buster was as good as gold... But last year with Franklin I restrained him bare hand and he screamed and bit like crazy.

Buster was so good though that he didm't even make a sound. This mean't we could nip in and out within a couple of minutes, and Emmy being the other side of the enclosure, had no idea we had done it. Perfect.

No guarantees of course, but I would imagine Buster will start emerging in a couple of weeks or so... soon after this his swimming lessons will begin. A must see! and I will try and let you all know when they start.

This means unfortunately for Franklin it will be best to separate him out from the main pond. He has been no trouble what so ever, but at just over a year we normally would have moved him on by now, and in the wild they would have dispersed. Over the weekend we will move Franklin in to the middle pond.

Poor old Elwood will miss his playtime with Franklin after each morning keeper talk. But it won't be long till Buster will be old enough to take over the role.

I will let you know when he starts coming out.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Polecat Release

Over the weekend our polecat kits, which were born here earlier in the year, were collected to be released out in to the wild. Ferret-Rescue Surrey came to help catch them up in what turned out to be an easy task! Usually they are a little feisty and all in different places, but catching them early on a Saturday and they were all huddled in one place and a little sleepy!

It doesn't seem that long ago that they were still running around our display pen causing mum much grief! They are always such an good time waster, and great fun to watch while they are growing, but it is now time for them to move on.
For the past few weeks we have been feeding them natural food. We always try to mimic wild diets closely, but with these being off display for  a while now it has allowed us to throw in a whole dead rabbit for example, still with skin on etc, to really get them to learn what food it!

These kits will be soft released over the next few weeks, and as last year, I will share some video footage of the release if Ferret-Rescue Surrey manage to capture any.

Later this month "Mags", the mother of the kits will be retiring to a new home and we will be welcoming a new young breeding pair to the Centre. I will of course let you know when they are here.