Monday, 22 February 2016

Members Evening and Blog Update

"Little Tom with a Little Mouse" by Ingrid Nicholls

Date for your diaries... Saturday the 9th of July will be when our annual Members Evening takes place. A few of you have been asking when it will be this year, and wanting it to be announced earlier so you can make sure you are free to come along, and so with a little nagging I now have a date confirmed with the office.

So, Saturday the 9th of July. On this date members of the Centre will be able to stay on after our normal open hours until 8pm to see the animals in the evening. As per usual we will put on another couple of talks for you, and have the keepers walking around to show off some animals and answer questions.

A reminder and more news on this nearer the time, but until then don't forget to write it in your diaries, and maybe these pictures offer a clue of what to expect?!.. er, and maybe not... those that know me well now know I usually come up with the schedule the day before or morning of the evening.

The new look blog seems to be going down well. I have had a few criticisms with the larger photos, but overall most seem to be happy or non different to the new look. If some of you are wondering, what has changed? Well, that goes to show you very little... The widths of the blog have increased to display nicer on most modern screens, and the photos now appear larger to accompany the new widths and to make it easier for people to actually see the pictures without clicking on them.

I am very wary of not having this blog come across as a "photography" blog, and so don't want the photos to dominate the posts. But then also appreciate that people like to see photos of our animals, and how well known the BWC is as a venue to take photographs of British wildlife. I am hoping this new balance works. Have no fear, the news and updates on the animals and Centre will continue to be the focus of this blog!

So anything else new? The eagle-eyed of you may have seen there is now a search option under the blog archive on the right hand side. This will make it easier for you to find older posts on a particular animal or subject if you so wish. But that is it, no more plans for changes... except maybe an up to date photograph of myself to on the right :-)

Don't forget... Member Evening: Saturday 9th of July, 2016, 5pm - 8pm!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Welcome to Richard

Some of you may have recognised a familiar face at the Centre over the last few days...

Let me introduce you all to our new keeper, Richard. Rich has worked here in the past before heading off to pursue his call to go travelling. Realising now that he is getting on a bit, he has returned home to the UK to settle down. He has worked in other small collections for the past year, keeping his hand in with animal husbandry, but as soon as we were looking for a new keeper he was keen to return and his application was sent in.

I am sure Rich will settle in quickly, and it won't be long till it all comes flooding back and he is educating school children and helping photographers get their perfect shots! Keep an eye out for him around the site when you are here and say hello.

Monday, 15 February 2016

February Half Term

A quick reminder on this very cold and icy Monday morning that we are open to the general public every day this week for February half term. Moving in to our 'busy' season sees us now stay open until 5pm, and sees a return of our usual schedule of talks. Check these out under the "Keeper Talks" tab below the header at the top of this page.

Keep in mind that the best time to see the animals, and especially with this colder weather, is around the keeper talk times. So if there is something in particular you are hoping to glimpse then plan you visit to the times listed.

One exception to this are our otters! They seem to love the colder weather, and are often seen out playing in the water and chasing each other around the banks. If the low temperatures last long enough for some thick ice on their ponds, then you may well get to see them chase each other through the ice too! One runs on top while the other swims underneath... amazing fun to watch, and usually ending with the one on top crashing through when they find a thin patch.

Hope to see some of you here over the coming days.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

January 2016: Photo of the Month

"Red Squirrel in the Snow" by Christine Sweet

February is well underway, and I keep getting asked if we are still going to be choosing a "Photo of the Month" for this year. Well, I think I will be... it seem the photo competition will not be running once again this year, and so to keep sharing photos and keep a gallery going in our coffee shop there will be a 2016; Photo of the Month!

This year I may well share a couple of images each month, as there is always so many to choose from, and then have one of those selected for our gallery next year and a chance to win a photographic day here at the Centre. So I guess we better start with January!, and as you can probably guess we a had a lovely selection of snowy images taken during that brief spell of light snow earlier this month. 

Of these I have chosen the photo above, taken by Chris Sweet, of one of our red squirrels in the snow as our January photo of the month. This is a beautiful photo making the most of the light snow, and in a natural setting. The greens and whites really make the squirrel stand out, and the snow is crisp and clear. I really like the way Chris has captured the snow on the squirrels whiskers, and love the droplet of melting snow on the forehead. Great eye contact from this iconic mammal helps make this my photo of the month. Well done Chris!

Chris's photo will be on display in our gallery next year, and she will have the chance to win a photographic day here at the Centre if selected at the end of the year by a professional photographer. 

"Otter in the Snow" by Gary K Mann

We had a lot of cracking snow shots shared over the past month, including these two close ups taken by Gary K Mann.

"Fox in the Snow" by Gary K Mann

Both the Elwood the otter and Flo the fox seemed to enjoy the snow, and Gary has really managed to capture the setting that day and make it look like there was a lot more snow here than there actually was.

"Squirrel in the Snow" by Phil Jennings

But it was the squirrels which were the stars of the day. They really made the most of the snow, and provided some great opportunities for the few photographers that decided to venture out in the cold to see us. One of who was Phil Jennings who took this fabulous portrait of one of our squirrels!

As before, click on the names of the photographers to see more of their work.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

New Polecat

Finally! Here she is... Worth the wait though, isn't she beautiful?!

This is our new female polecat, "Cassandra" (uh, yeah... don't ask.) But you can call her "Cassie" for short. Cassie has come to us to pair up with Billy for the new season, after his older mate Roxie had been moved on to retirement to 'Ferret Rescue Surrey'. Hopefully they will get on well and produce a nice litter of kits.

Of course we still have Whitstable and Oriel on display in the main pen, so potentially could have two litters of kits to offer to the release programme later this year. Exciting stuff!

Cassie came to us via the breeding programme having been born at the New Forest Wildlife Park. She is still very shy, so you will have to be patient if you want to try and see her, but it won't take her long to settle. Currently housed in the enclosure next to Billy's, we will open up the divide between the two over the next week to see how they get on.

Don't forget, if you do decide to come and see her we are now open until 5pm for our main season. This means we are back to our usual schedule of 'Keeper Talks'. You can remind yourself of these via the tab under the header above. It does mean we no longer do a scheduled talk on polecats, but it also means that pine martens are back so, you know... every cloud and all that :-)

Monday, 1 February 2016

Polecat Release

You may have heard rumors that we have a new polecat?.. Well, yes we do... but not this one above. Above is Whitstable who has been with us for a while now, and successfully sired many kittens which have gone on to be released.

So why a picture of him? Firstly, our new female polecat is being very shy at the moment, and I have yet to take a photo of her. Secondly, I thought you may like to see some videos from the post monitoring cameras of the polecat release last year.

Whitstable sired these kittens, see... there was a link there to the photo above... His kits from lat year, along with others in the breeding group, were collected and released by 'Ferret Rescue Surrey'. They do a great job, along with the studbook holder, in organising and collecting the polecats. And along with their band of volunteers have successfully soft-released many polecats over the years.

These camera traps are just part of the post release monitoring they do, and have been successful recently in capturing some lovely clips of these polecats out in the wild.

Most activity has bee seen at night, unsurprisingly, but even a little bit of daylight action has been seen. 

So, hope you enjoy these, and I will introduce you to our new female polecat as soon as I (or any one else visiting) manages to get a photograph of her. She will be paired up with our other male, Billy, in the hopes of them mating later this year. We have yet to name her, but some names in the air include Crystal, Piper, Ocean, Jean... see where the keepers are going with this! Or maybe even Cassandra... yeah, thanks Tom! 

Of course I am very disappointed, as none of these are 'Game of Thrones' related.