Saturday, 31 July 2010

Firemen lend a helping hand

Some of you may have noticed that our otter ponds were getting very low in the warm Summer we have had so far. In fact, they were the lowest I had ever seen them, and so we needed to do something about it. We asked our local fire service if they fancied a training exercise in pumping a huge bulk of water from one place to another, and they were more than happy to help.

We have a natural spring filling pond on the Centre's grounds nearby, and so we decided to move some of the water from there to our middle otter pond which had almost completely dried up.

The exercise was a success. The middle pond has now been topped up with water from the spinney, and Lilly and Kernow are happy to be able to play and swim around in their enclosure once again...

It seems they weren't the only ones pleased to have the fire brigades help today...

We will be laying our own hose in the future so that if we get any more drying out weather we can safely fill up the ponds ourselves.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Summer Opening

Just a reminder that we will be open everyday for the Summer school holidays from tomorrow, Saturday the 24th of July, until Sunday the 5th of September.

Look forward to seeing many of you here during the next few weeks, and hopefully a few new faces too.

You will see all the usual animals we have as well as some new ones. Flying displays with the owls will still take place as well as ad-lib raptor flights. Check out the welcome board in reception for special events that day, and please take note that keeper talk times have changed.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Introducing Archimedes

On Sunday we aquired our latest edition to our owl education and flying team, a Long-Eared Owl chick which we have named "Archimedes" after the owl in Disney's "The Sword and the Stone"

We are hopeful that when Archimedes has been reared he will be friendly enough to join our owl team on their school education visits, and fit enough to take part in our owl displays in the dell.

Keeper Katie has taken on the task of rearing this special owl, and after the great job she has done with our barn and tawny chicks I am sure Archimedes is in safe hands.

We have had all 7 native owl species for a while now at the Centre, but the edition of Archimedes now means we have one of each which will be happy sitting on a glove and posing for photographs and many of which will fly.

Look out for Archimedes next time you visit the BWC.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Stoats and Weasels out for the Summer!

Many of you regular photographers will be pleased to know that stoats and weasels are back in the enclosures by the snakes and polecats.

These pens should allow for better photographic opportunities of these small mustelids, as they did a couple of years ago.

A young male and female stoat are found in the first two pens you come two, of which the male in particular is very friendly and curious when people are around. Next to them is one of our elder female polecats who is nursing two kits. Then continuing up the path towards the corvids, the last two pens are home to our new and very friendly weasel.

Good luck to you all in trying to get some nice photos, of course stoats and weasels are still on display in our Hedgerow section too where our female weasel is hopefully expecting young within the coming weeks.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Members Evening

A big THANK YOU to all the members who joined us on our annual members evening this past Saturday. Once again it was a huge success with well over 100 of you turning out for the extended opening hours and extra keeper talks.

After owner David Mill's welcome talk we took you to the Red Squirrel walk-through enclosure for an evening look at our semi-free range squirrels. After I fed "Anthony" it seemed that the squirrels shied away a little, but many of you reported back that there were some in the background while I was talking... and many of you stayed there for the whole evening and were rewarded by most of our 25 squirrels coming out and even coming up very close to you.

I always try to offer one new talk not done before, and this year I took the gamble of the Water Vole. Our island display is pretty good at the moment, and the voles are very comfortable being out and about while visitors watch them close by... but would they come out for the 15 minutes I wanted them to?

Well they did. I must confess I kept a little food back for them, but it seemed to work, 5 of our voles were very visible while I was talking about them and many of you came up to me saying that it was the highlight of the night.

We ended the evening with a static display of our owls. We are only one of two Centres in the UK to house all 7 owls, and we talked about them all while showing them round the dell. It was quite a spectacle seeing the owls all together down in the dell amd is certainly something we may try to repeat in the future.

Of course the usual animals feeds were present, and our two young orphaned badger cubs were on show. The feedback we have had so far is extremely positive and we look forward to announcing a date for a Winters members day nearer the end of the year.

Thank you once again.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Otter cubs

Well, she has done it again! Thistle, one of our female otters, gave birth yesterday to what we believe are 3 healthy young otter cubs. If you look closely you can see all three in the photo above. Sterling and Thistle had our first successful litter of otter cubs last year in May. Many of you have been saying to me that it was a shame that they did not produce this year, but as I told those that asked, otters can give birth anytime of year and do not have a set season. In fact most of the adult otters we have here were born in late Autumn!

Did not want to disturb them for obvious reasons so just took a couple of record shots for the keeps. Have a look below.

This is the first time that our otters have used our new observation holt to give birth in, and so we are very happy.

But... before you all come rushing down to see the youngsters in there, i will be putting a barrier in place to stop access to the holt for the public. Sorry, but I want the mother and cubs undisturbed for the first few weeks while they settle in and grow. Maybe in a months time or so I will start to allow the visitors back in.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Marsh Frogs

For quite a few weeks now our marsh frogs have been creating quite a racket! These introduced amphibians call and inflate air sacs either side of their mouth this time of year. Once one starts the others usually join in, not too bad if you only have a dozen or so in our water vole enclosure... but a lot of noise when 10's if not 100's have found their way into our nature reserve.

Marsh frogs are first thought to have been brought over around 1935 and released into a pond on the edge of Walland Marsh in Kent. They have subsequently spread and in within their ranges are now rather common.

Marsh frogs will eat almost anything, and have even shown cannibalistic tendencies. It seems if it will fit in their mouth the will eat it, but their usual diet will include invertebrates and small fish.

Keep an ear open for our frogs next time you visit us here at the BWC.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Water Vole

A couple of weeks ago now I added a few youngsters out on to our water vole island display. At first they shied away, and you hardly ever saw them, but now they are beginning to take lead from the two old boys out there and realising that it is not so bad to be out and about while people are around.

We gave them a helping hand in cutting back the island a little bit, but will leave the rest up to them. It seems that our water voles like the natural diet already in place on the island, but still like to come out for their daily apple mix too!

With the addition of the new voles they should trim the island down quite nicely over the Summer. In the meantime we are still quietly breeding water voles off-display, and will introduce more to our nature reserve later in the year.

Check out the video below to see one of our new water voles on display, already the star in many peoples photographs.