Friday, 30 April 2021

April Update


Earlier this month we welcomed people back to the Centre for the first time in over 4 months!.. With restrictions easing on the 12th, we were allowed to open to the public once again at weekends and school holidays, and run our pre booked photographic days and school trips. 

I must confess to being a little apprehensive in waiting to see people here again, I guess having got used to having the place to ourselves and a new routine, but within the first few minutes of opening the doors on the morning of the 12th everything just seemed to be right again!.. Staff and animals relaxed, public seemed happy to be able to get out, and what a joy it was to have the Centre feel alive again and have a real "buzz" about the place... something I have definitely missed!

As well as the public, we had some other new arrivals this past month. Once again our wildcats have bred, and hopefully kittens will start to show themselves in a few weeks time

Our badger cubs are doing great, and guess what?.. our other female had a litter of cubs too... so two litters of badger cubs. It's such a shame we have to have our sett closed off still due to covid restrictions, but once we are allowed we will open it up for you to meet them. 

We have the usual water voles and harvest mice litters, which will allow us to do some more releases with them later this year, and our dormice we checked on last month have now been relocated to London Zoo where they are in quarantine before this years release. Things really seem to be getting back on track this year!

Really exciting news is that our adder were seen "dancing" this week. We had a photographic day here on Tuesday, and they were lucky enough to see the first bit of dancing this Spring. Fingers crossed for a nice weekend and hopefully a bit more action will be seen. 

Our photo days have always been popular, but this season interest has been extremely high. I guess everyone is just looking to get out and about having been cooped up for so long! Our owl days in particular had been fully booked for a long time. Due to a school cancellation we were able to add an extra day, which nearly booked out overnight! A great time of year to to photograph them though, the bluebells are out in our woodland and the owls  always look great in them!

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

March Update


It's been a strange old month and we have kind of felt like we were in limbo... some good news that we can open from the 12th of April and so start edging back to normal, but still for this month working with less staff and no-one else around. 

We are nearly there though!.. In a week and a half we can open up again to the public, Monday the 12th of April and for the rest of that week, pre booked online. Then after that every weekend, bank holiday and school holiday as before, and for the time being still all has to be pre booked online. 

We can also start with our photographic days and tours too, and our diary is already filling up with hardly a free space before the Summer... I think people are eager to get out. 

So what is new? Well, some really exciting things but unfortunately things that won't be able to be seen, unless you are really lucky, for a few more weeks.

Last weekend we did our pre quarantine for release check on all of our dormice. We had an excellent breeding season last year with both of our pairs having two litters each. They hibernate on the ground, and have yet to wake up after winter, but need to head off to London Zoo soon for a quarantine period and health check before release out in to the wild. This meant gently finding and checking on them to make sure they are alright and ready to go, good news... they are all fit and healthy and will be on their way to the wild very soon. 

Our breeding dormice are on display, but being very nocturnal even when they are out of hibernation will rarely be seen. Usually you would be able to go in to our nocturnal house and see our dormice in there where we have reversed the day and night, but unfortunately we still have to keep that shut off until restrictions ease more the closer we get to summer. Above is a photo of one during the check the other weekend though.

Our other big news is that we have badger cubs! All doing well and being looked after brilliantly by mum, but again unfortunately our observation sett is being forced to close until restrictions ease. The cubs are nearly at that age when they will start to explore a bit more though and cause some grief for mum, so you never know, nearer the end of the day we may see a little one or two pop out to see what's happening outside.

But there are still all the usual suspects for you to see here, and more exciting news on the way I am sure. Our squirrels should be having kittens soon, our snakes are out and about in the warmer weather and will be dancing soon, red deer have lost their antlers and the fallow will follow shortly and our wildcats are pregnant. 

Hope to see some of you back here in April, and looking forward to another fun year in terms of animal news and stories. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

February Update

We are still here, still in lockdown, but with a tentative date of when we will be able to open to the public once again. Last week the government announced their roadmap out of lockdown, and when certain restrictions will be lifted. All going to plan, and with no further setbacks, it seems that animal collections such as ourselves will be able to open our doors from the 12th of April!

Great news!.. Not as soon as we had hoped, and we will miss a large part of our Easter opening, but at least a date we can look forward to and plan for.

In the meantime life goes on here and the animals are still being looked after to all the high standards they are used too. The squirrels have been chasing each other around the copse, so I think kittens will not be too far off, the wild herons on the reserve will soon have their chicks and would you believe we have already seen our first adder out for the year.

Perhaps the biggest thing is the increase in "wild" wildlife activity. During the first lockdown last year we saw an increase in sightings of our wildlife around the Centre and on our reserve, mainly bird life. This lockdown has been no different, but I would say the biggest increase has been in the mammals!.. Maybe the colder weather has contributed to this too. Lot's of wild roe, foxes, stoats and weasels.

Here are a couple more photos from during the small amount of snow we had a few weeks a go.