Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Winter is here

No! We haven't got snow here yet, these photos are from last year. But this morning we woke up to the coldest morning so far, and forecasts are showing it is the start of Winter with temperatures dropping over the coming days. We are even forecast snow over the weekend! But we will have to wait and see if that holds true. But even so, if no snow this weekend, it looks very likely we will have snow at some point over the winter if its to be as long and cold as predicted.

The animals never seem to mind the weather this time of year, and all cope extremely well. Most of them have moulted into their thick winter coats already and are better prepared than we are. Arguably they look much better this time of year when they do have their winter coats.

For the keepers, this time of year is mixed. We begin to slow down with school and photographic bookings which you would assume gives us more time. But instead we are equally busy with the extra routines needed to keep the animals in full health. Extra feeding duties need to be undertaken, water needs to be ensured is not frozen, nest boxes all nice and cosy etc. Not to mention all the maintenance work we are trying to get on top of before we open up again. All this with cold feet, cold fingers and frozen water taps which just makes the general day to day jobs take that little extra time than normal.

 Whether we get snow or not this weekend, it is clear winter has arrived at the BWC. 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Owl Roadshow

After last years launch of a Winter Roadshow, where we take animals to the schools, we have refined it all for this coming Winter and bookings are coming in strong!

We offered two different visits last year. Small mammals or Owls. Small mammals was good, but to the numbers of students we were getting it just was not visually enough to keep the attention. The owls on the other hand worked really well. Therefore this year we are offering just the Owls.

Our visit will usually last around an hour. We will bring up to all 7 British species of owl. Talk about each individual and owls in general, and new for this year... we may be able to fly one or two of the owls around the school hall.classroom.

Our first booking this Winter is tomorrow where I will be taking Robin, Evy, Florence and of course Ethel for a slightly shorter, 30 minute, presentation.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Owl Photographic Day

I had to make a quick and tricky decision over the beginning of the week. Our "Raptor" photographic day was scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, but the weather conditions were forecast to be terrible. Heavy rain all day, gale force winds, and getting darker earlier than it usually does this time of year. Today however was forecast to be beautiful, and by luck was a rare empty day at the Centre with no other prior bookings! Therefore at short notice we swapped the days around.

Unfortunately 3 of the photographers could not make the change, but all thought it was the right decision to make and have booked in for another day next year. To make up numbers a couple on the cancellation list managed to fill in at short notice. After a lovely day of photography it is obvious that it was the right thing to do.

Owl and Bird of Prey photographic days are something we are looking at promoting for next year. 4 of our own dates are already up on the website for booking, as well as a few workshop run days. The beauty of it being based on the nature reserve means if demand is high we can always add more dates without disrupting school visits etc at the main part of the Centre.

If it is not a "Raptor" day you are booked into, then it will be a mammal day where no birds will be used for photography work. Instead you will get good chances to photograph a wide range of mammals from Harvest mice up to Red Deer.

On the "Raptor" days you can expect to photograph around 6 different types of British Owls and Birds of prey, all placed in natural looking surroundings. Some oppourtunities of the animals with prey may be possible and certainly some flying will be on show. The day will offer photography work in our woodland area, open field lands and wetlands area all located down on our Nature Reserve. Based in our Field Studies Centre means there is no need to use any of the facilities at the main Centre. Some walking is required to get to some of the photographic locations.

For more details and to see the available dates check out our photographic section on our main website, linked in side bar on the right.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

New Kestrel

Last Monday I went to pick up a young kestrel. He is a young male from this year, and over the next few weeks will be manned and trained to fly.

He is a lovely little bird, currently going by the name Jimmy, and I have big plans for him once he joins the flying team... In the mean time I am hoping to use him for some portrait shots in his first ever photo shoot this coming Thursday on our first official "Raptor Photography Day"

Friday, 5 November 2010

Update on our Wildcat kittens

Earlier this week we sexed our wildcat kittens in preparation for moving them on to other places. Unfortunately earlier this year Iona lost her lone kitten, and then a couple of weeks ago Kendra lost one of hers after it had a nasty fall in the enclosure. However the remaining two kittens produced by Kendra are doing very well and look extremely healthy.

One of them is a female and the other a male. We will most likely be holding onto the female for ourselves as Lex a fantastic cat and it will be nice to hold back one of his offspring. This year also looks like it may be the last for our eldest cat "Una", who I fear may not be with us much longer and so this kitten will be a nice replacement for her. We will likely call her "Isla"

The young male cat "Richy Junior" will be re-located by the studbook holder, currently at Port-Lympne Zoo.

Our wildcats are part of the national studbook for Scottish Wildcats, currently held at Port-Lympne Zoo in Kent. The co-ordinator there is responsible for the relocation of captive wildcats part of the programme and ensuring the genetic purity as far is possible of captive wildcats. The hope is that one day there will be a safe haven in which to release pure Scottish Wildcats back into Scotland and keep our last remaining native cat in the country a lot longer than if we did nothing at all.

For more information on Scottish Wildcats and the efforts being made to ensure their survival, check out the Scottish Wildcat Association.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Flying Owls

Our two new barn owls, hatched out here at the Centre earlier this year, have finally joined our flying team. After being successfully reared by keeper Katie, they took their first flight in front of the public over the weekend. Having coped with that as well as they did it was time for the training line to come off, and earlier today they took their first free flights around the Dell.

Katie has trained them well, and they both performed brilliantly. They will be on top form for the displays come the winter week opening and going into the weekends for next year where we also hope to add a little owl and short-eared owl to the flying team.

The barn owls have been named "Dawn" and "Evy"

Monday, 1 November 2010

Fallow Deer Rut

The fallow deer rut is in full flow, I am afraid I have no pictures of this years clashing of antlers, but above is a photo of William "barking" to the rest of the herd.

Our pale buck William seems to have ousted Norman from his position of master buck. Some of you may remember that last year William put up a good fight, but was cut short when he broke one of his antlers. This year he seems to be faring much better with two. He has clashed antlers only a couple of times with the other buck, and even had a short lived go with Eric! But seems to be quite in charge of the fallow does currently.

Hopefully I will be able to bring you photos of some action soon, if not I can post a couple from last year to show you what the rut is all about.