Thursday, 16 November 2017

Badgers on the Move


Remember the badger cubs we had earlier this year?.. Well they have been growing well and quickly off display over the last few months, all while our maintenance team have been busy expanding our outside badger enclosure.

By taking a little area of the Copse, hardly used by the squirrels, we have been able to link a new digging area to our existing outside badger enclosure via a tunnel which passes underneath the boardwalk.

An inside area provides a sleeping area for the new badgers, and having been introduced at the weekend, they now have access to the grassy area for the first time. As you can see, they are having a great time destroying all the hard work put in by doing what badgers do best.



Over the winter we will be alternating who has access to each outside area, between our new badgers and old, swapping bedding materials and allowing them to talk to each other through a divide system. Over time we are hoping we will be able to allow them all to live together. Easier said than done, but it would be nice for them all to have free roam of both enclosures!

The winter time has always been the best time of year for us to catch up on some of the bigger jobs and plans we have for the Centre, and this year is no different. Finishing the badgers is a start, and a few other things are in line which we will be able to share with you soon.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Photo of the Month: October 2017

"Red Squirrel" By Brett Watson

We are now entering our quieter time of year, with the evenings drawing in and the temperature dropping. For a lot of our animals this means they will be a little less active, but on the plus I think that most of them are far more photogenic. Nice thick winter coats, bushy tails and vibrant colours.

Last month the photographs seemed to cover a real range of our animals, with more being shared of our animals in the "Barn and Hedgerow" section which was great to see. We did see quite a few wide angle photographs too, and it was the photo above taken by Brett Watson of one of our friendly red squirrels which we chose to be in our coffee shop gallery next year.

As with the others, Brett's photo will be in with a chance of being selected to win him a photo day here at the wildlife centre.

Here are a couple of other photos that were shared by our visitors last month.


"House Mouse" by Zena Saunders


"Stealth Otter" by Jeni Bell



"Red Squirrel" by Gary Chisholm


As always, click on the link in the names above to see more of their photographs.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Goodbye to Little Tom


Last week we said goodbye to one of our keepers, Little Tom, who after nearly four years of being with us has decided to move on for a new challenge. If you don't recognise him above, then try picturing him with a beard... and seeing him through tears of laughter as you try to control yourself during one of his hilarious keeper talks... no?,.. oh, tough crowd.

Tom was a great asset to us over the years, and helped the Centre to develop and grow throughout that time. He will be missed, as will Des and Troy, his jokes, and his singing.., eh, well maybe not his singing.

We wish him all the best in his new role at Godstone Farm, and the new challenges and skills that will offer. Being just down the road, I am sure he will keep pop in and keep in touch.




Saturday, 28 October 2017

Keeper Vacancy


This weekend, (until midnight Monday 30th October), is the final weekend that we are accepting applications for our "Keeper" position we currently have open. 

Are you passionate about British Wildlife?..



Can you pretend to be a tree?..



Can you teach the savage wildcat to dance in synchronization?..



Are you a pro at taking selfies?..

Well if you can say yes to the above, or at least the bit about being passionate about British Wildlife, and think you can get along with this crazy bunch of people, head over to our website to find out more details for the position available and how to apply.



Monday, 23 October 2017

Red Squirrel Releases


A few weeks a go we supplied a dozen more squirrels to Caldey Island for their releases over there. These joined the few we sent previously over the last couple of years, and it is hoped they will establish a healthy little population with the help from the island residents. 



We are well known for our island releases, working closely with other conservation groups to establish pockets of wild red squirrels where they are safe from grey squirrels. We couldn't do all the hard work ourselves though in terms of breeding the animals, and do this with the help of several other holders. 

We manage a breeding group, including many local agricultural colleges and private holders, who look after squirrels for us and breed them to supply kittens for the releases. This along with the many we breed here on site are the basis of keeping the group going, helping out other groups around the country with swapping bloodlines, and of course providing squirrels for our releases. 



Above you can see three squirrel kittens that were bred this year at the Berkshire College of Agriculture, this lovely bit of footage taken by Nick Shelley. Once old enough and fending for themselves, kittens like these come back to us before they move on to their new life.



So, how are our ones doing on Caldey at the moment?.. Well it is still very early days of course, but so far signs are good. Here are a couple of photos we got sent last week to show how they have been settling in and finding their way  around. 





Saturday, 14 October 2017

Polecat Release


Our polecats have done really well again this year, and both our females Oriel and Cassie had litters of kits. Cassie has been off display most of this year with our male Billy, and had 5 kits. While on display in our main enclosure Oriel and Whitstable had 4 kits, which I am sure many of you have seen grow, play and mature over the summer. 

Above is one of Oriel's daughters, taken a couple of weeks a go. Isn't she gorgeous?!?... Really takes after her mum, who I think is the prettiest polecat I have ever seen. Really sleek and dark with the classic face mask. 



And this is one of Oriel and Whitstable's sons. Another handsome chap. You can see how they have grown over the summer, all big and healthy and ready for their next move. 



Here are the other two, and below two of the kits with mum Oriel at the front...



Last weekend Ferret Rescue Surrey came to collect them, along with Cassie's kits, and took them off to be released in to the wild. As with previous years, they are soft released to give them a real good start at "wild" life and the Ferret Rescue Surrey team do a fantastic job in monitoring them and keeping an eye on how they cope once our on their own.



So, Oriel is looking a bit more relaxed now with out the youngsters constantly playing and annoying her. Now that they have gone, we have been able to move Whitstable back out on to display with her.



Hopefully they will continue their success, and have another litter next year.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Photo of the Month: September 2017

"Snarling Wildcat" by Andy Lowe

September is over, and so it is time to share some more visitor photos with you. We had a lot of wildcat photos pop up over the internet this month, many of which were of our kittens, but it is this photo above of their dad "Macavity" showing off what wildcats are best known for that we chose for our photo for September.

This photo was taken by Andy Lowe, and you can see more of his work by following the link in his name. Andy's photo will be on display in our coffee shop gallery next year, and he will be in with a chance of winning a photographic day here at the Centre if selected by our professional judge at the end of the year.

Below are a few more pictures from last month.


"Wildcat Kittens" by Moi Hicks


"Black Water Vole" by Cathryn (Redcat09)


"Rutting Deer" by Irene Ford


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Red Deer Rut


Our red deer are beginning to think about rutting, and the last few days has seen our master stag Albus Dumbledeer start to roar. Nothing too impressive, but signs of things to come over the coming weeks.

It could be a good rut this year, with our second stag Olivander closer in size to Albus than before and with a nice wide spread of antler. He certainly thinks he may have a chance, and has even rounded up the females for himself a few times as you can see below.



Still  not in the full flow though. A few more days and they will start bellowing out, and possibly in to next month we may see some clashing of antlers.

Friday, 15 September 2017

New Keeper: Millie


Welcome to our newest member of the keeper team... Millie.

Millie has just joined us to help with all the daily routines and looking after the many groups that come to see the animals. She has recently graduated from Plumpton College where she studied Animal Management, and is now looking forward to getting stuck in to a career working with animals.

I am sure you will all make Millie feel welcome when you see her around the Centre.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Red Squirrels to Caldey Island


We have had another successful year with our red squirrels this year, several litters of kittens born in our off display pens and at our other holders sites. As with all out kittens, we redistribute them around our breeding group, and then look at the possibility of re-introducing them out in to the wild.

This year we have several kittens that can be sent to the wild, and as with our previous releases, we are continuing with the idea of introducing them to islands where there are no grey squirrels to affect them.



Last week we sent a dozen squirrels over to Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire. These, along with a few others from previous years, we are hoping will settle and mimic the success we have had on other islands such as Tresco.

So far so good, and hopefully we will be able to share with you news of how they are doing over the winter.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Photo of the month: August 2017

"Eagle owl" by Tony Walker

August is the only month of the year that we are open to the general public every day, and it has been a busy month this year... Lot's of people coming to see us, and lots of you bringing your cameras.

It has been a real mix of animal photos that we have seen over the past month, our new weasels being arguably the most photographed, but it is this beautiful photograph or Ethel our eagle owl which we have chosen for photo of the month. Captured by Tony Walker.

Tony's photo will be in our gallery next year, and he will be in with the chance of winning a photo day here at the Centre if his pictured is picked out by our professional judge at the end of the year.

See a few more pictures below, and as always you can click on the names to see more photographs taken by these photographers.


"Weasel" by Linda Kent

"Weasel on watch" by Lillian

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Goodbye to Rich


Last week we said goodbye to one of our keepers, Richard. Rich arrived for his third spell of work here about a year and a half ago, but has been with us on and off in between his many travels around the world, for the past ten years.

Rich has been a valued member of our keeping team over the years, and has helped the Centre to continue to grow and inspire many visitors about the wildlife living all around us... including his favourite, the tabby cats... er, I mean, Wildcats.

Rich has now decided it is time to move on and further his career, learn new skills, and pass on his knowledge to a new audience. He is going back to college! But this time as a lecturer to train young aspiring students in animal handling.

We all wish you the very best Rich, don't forget about British wildlife, and maybe bring your future groups to the Centre to show them around.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Summer Update


It has been a busy old summer for us this year, lots of visitors, lots of young animals around, lots of new changes taking place or at least planned for the future and new faces around the place helping to look after it all.

We have had a very successful year in terms of baby animals, and it may not be over yet... we have just started to introduce our new weasels together in the hope that they may have a late litter this year, and once again we have put our pine martens together in the hopes of kits next spring!



Our current youngsters are all doing extremely well. We have been able to extend our releases on our reserve this year with both the harvest mice and water voles. Red squirrels are in preparation for their release in the autumn as are our two litters of polecats. Plus many more little ones being the centre of attention with the visitors, including our new baby adders and still a favourite our otter cubs from the end of last year... Dolores and Bernard.



We have plenty of plans of for the future too, many of which we hope to put in place over this coming winter. A lot of general up keep, but a few new things for you to see too. We will keep you updated with progress of course, but one thing you probably have seen already if you have visited in recent weeks is the extension to our badger sett.

We are extending the outside part of their run by double the size, and giving them access to it via a tunnel under the walkway. This will give them a lot more space, and allow us to introduce the cubs to our main group. At the moment it looks a bit like a building site, but in a couple of weeks it will be landscaped and grassed with a few small trees planted. After some time for it to all take and settle, it will be opened up for the cubs.

Oh and how could I forget, another new venture coming soon...



"It's virtual reality, it's the future!" David F Mills

Friday, 11 August 2017

Adder Babies


To some they may not be the cutest, but to me they are still adorable... Adder Babies!!!

Earlier this year we had the dancing between the males, and the mating of both females. This doesn't always mean there will be a litter of youngsters, and usually it is every two or three years that the females will reproduce, but with our last litter two years a go and one of our females growing in size rapidly over the early summer, we thought this may be a year of little ones.

Sure enough, yesterday saw the first ones being born. We have only seen 3 at the same time, but there may well be more with female adders often having up in to double figures in one litter.



Baby adders are usually called "Neonates", but I prefer the more endearing "Adderlings". I haven't been able to get photos of this years yet, so these are from our last litter.

Unlike many reptiles, adders give birth to live young... or at least appear to depending on how technical we want to get. In essence they emerge from the mother in a very soft membranous sac which they quickly escape from. They are tiny in size, but perfectly formed like a mini adult. Difficult to see in the first photo, but in the one above you get a better idea of scale (pun fully intended) of the youngster pictured against the scales of the mother.

Venomous and independent from day one, extra care is now taken when cutting the grass in their enclosure. They are so small they are difficult to spot, so take some extra time looking when you are next here if you are hoping to see them.



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Photo of the Month: July 2017

"The mouse, the fly and the teasel" by Helen Haden 

Another month of an amazing amount of photographs being sent in and shared, many of which were taken on our members evening on the very 1st day of the month, and many of those being of our harvest mice... so no surprises that we have picked out a few of these to show you.

Of them all though we went with the photo above taken by Helen Haden of one of our harvest mice during members evening. If you look close enough, you will see a surprise model in the picture with a little fly sitting on part of the teasel, brilliant!

Some more fantastic pictures to share with you below, many of our harvest mice, most from our members evening at the beginning of the month, and one of those being of our very fast pine marten Drogo. Brilliant work to get him standing still for a second. As always, click on the link in the photographer names to see more photos by them.


"Sweet little harvest mouse" by Ros Wood 


"Harvest Mouse" by Sarah Louise Orme


"Pine Marten" by Lillian


"Weasel" by Gary K Mann
As with every months photo pick, Helen's photo will be part of our coffee shop gallery next year and be in with a chance of winning Helen a photo day here at the Centre. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Summer Opening


This weekend sees the start of our Summer opening for the school holidays, this means we are now open every day during the week, as well as our usual weekends, until the 3rd of September. We then go back to just weekends until the next half term. 

I have been told by the office that we seem to have a road closure coming up north of us on the A22... not ideal being one of our main routes of access, but apparently there is a fairly simple diversion. More details on our website https://www.britishwildlifecentre.co.uk/planyourvisit.html

Don't let this put you off though, lots to see these coming weeks. 



Our new badger cubs are settling in very well, and although not currently on display, you will get to see their new enclosure being designed and built at the end of the copse.



The family of water voles we introduced you to last week have made themselves at home on our display island, and we have had a few recent sightings of wild ones out on the reserve too... I even spotted a harvest mouse out there last week among the reeds around the boardwalk, so keep your eyes peeled!



New stoat and weasels are just a few of the many new arrivals we have had this year, most now out and about and ready for you to see.



Our conservation team of highland cows are currently in our deer paddock, helping to keep the  grass in check before it runs away from the deer. 



And still a couple of youngsters that are still being reared, and can still be seen out and about with a keeper during the day... including Betty one of our long eared owl chicks. Look at her stunning eyes!

Hope to see many of you here over the next few weeks.