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. 




 











Saturday, 13 February 2021

BWC in the Snow

 

As with many areas of the country, we had some snow fall over the past week... but not as much as we were predicted and not as much as areas not too far from us. Still, when there is snow around it is always nice to get out with the camera. 

With lockdown still in full flow, and staffing reduced, it left little time to take pictures... but I did manage to find some time to take a few quick snaps.

Nearly a week since the first signs of snow, and already it has almost all gone. The bellow zero temperatures for the last few days though has frozen our otter ponds! The otters love this... running on the ice, crashing through it from above or below, and chasing each other with one swimming under while the other follows above!

























Sunday, 31 January 2021

January Update

 

And so it continues... Shortly after our decision at the end of last month to remain closed for January, the Government announced a third lockdown with a review to be taken mid February. It now sounds like restrictions may not be lifted until early March, and what that means for us and places like us we don't know, but as soon as we are allowed to and as soon as we feel it is safe to, we will open our doors once again!

In the mean time, life goes on here, animals still need to be fed and looked after. It is not as bad as the first lockdown when it was just myself and one other keeper each day. With the new furlough system it allows all keepers to work part time to still feel involved, and gives me an extra help to keep it all going in these dismal and dark winter days. 

So what's been happening over the last month? We are working with minimal staff just to keep the animal welfare to the high standard we expect. So all non essential jobs are on hold and of course we have no visitors, but there are still some things we have had to do to prepare for this coming year and a few extra seasonal jobs that crop up over winter. 

Our deer generally feed themselves naturally for most of the year. We do offer them food, but they prefer the natural grasses and leaves that their paddocks allow. However over the winter they almost exclusively rely on us for food. This means extra work in preparing and providing extra food every day, and more time needed to clean out their large shed and hard standing which they use more frequently during the winter. 



Braveheart, one of our breeding male wildcats, has been introduced to Hilda once again to hopefully mate over the coming weeks. Fingers crossed we will have more wildcat kittens later this year. In the meantime our kittens from last year are now all off display and while we wait to here from the studbook as to where they will go.



Otto, the otter, has also been moved off display. He is now approaching the age where there is a risk that he may mate with his sister if they continue to live together. Both of them have settled quickly and seem to be really enjoying their enclosures to themselves. 



Early each year we usually set up our displays of harvest mice and water voles with new little families from our breeding groups off display. You may remember we decided to try setting up our water voles a little earlier, putting a new group out at the end of last year. They are doing very well, and as with the first lockdown, no one here to see them unfortunately. This month we have prepared the harvest mice enclosures ready for new groups before we can hopefully open our doors once again. 



Some of you may have seen a slightly different nest box in with a couple of our pine martens over the end of last year... These were a new style we were trying out, and it seems are preferred by our pine martens. Therefore, with the little extra time we have had, we have been able to build and provide all of our pine martens with this newer style. 

So lots going on here still as you can see. All this and the extra winter jobs such as clearing the otter sleuces and more regular checks on nesting  boxes to make sure the animals have warm and dry beds. 

Hopefully next month's update we will be able to provide you with a bit more exciting news such as when we can welcome you back here again.