Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Last Thursdays "Owl and Bird of Prey" Photographic day

Last Thursday saw our first "Owl and Bird of Prey Photographic day" of 2011 take place. Having built on our 1st day back in November, and the trial day I ran at the end of last Summer, this past Thursday proved to be a huge success. 

We started off in our ancient bluebell woodland, photographing both tawny owls and long-eared owls before making use of our expansive nature reserve with many other types of owls and our peregrine, Jack. We then ended up in the woods with Ethel before rounding the day off with a late heron feed.

All in all we got through seven different types of bird, flew 5 different types of bird and had an opportunity to photograph most of them with their prey!

We have another 3 of these days planned for the rest of the year, plus an extra couple being run by wildarena. They are booking up extremely fast, and if demand is there, we may well be looking at arranging a few more dates too.

A gallery of the types of photos you can take on one of these days is currently in motion, link will be here when finished, and we may well add a gallery for the types of photographs you can catch on our normal BWC Mammal days too.

Friday, 25 March 2011

New Mole

Today saw the arrival of a new mole to the BWC. It has been a while since we had a mole on display, our last one dying of old age, but when he was there he proved to be one of the most popular animals even coming out to hand feed. Lets hope our new mole, Matty, follows suit.

Moles are thought to be one of the six most common UK mammals but they are very rarely seen. Normally their only give-away is the molehills they leave in their path. They are very well adapted to living under ground, tiny ears and eyes and huge shovel like forehands to help them to dig. Their fur can lie either way making it easier to traverse their tunnels backwards and forwards.
They will prey on most invertebrates with earthworms being a staple diet. They have been known to bite the heads off of worms and store them in a "larder" if food is aplenty.

Make sure you stop by next time you are here to see if you can see our mole.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Fox cub, "Snoop", arrives at the BWC

Over the weekend we received a call from someone over at the Chetney Marshes about a fox cub they had found. This young dog fox was spotted wandering alone by the side of the road, and had obviously been abandoned. Looking a little worse for wear they took him in and looked after him and got him looking far better for himself. However, not having the time to continue to care for him they asked us if we would like to take him on.

Of course, I knew the man for the job... it may not be a wildcat, but its the next best thing for keeper Richard!

Rich has taken on the task of continuing to rear this cub, and has given him the name "Snoop". Once ready Snoop will be heading off to another wildlife centre, possibly the Isle of Wight Zoo, to pair up with the vixens we are sending over there in a few weeks time.

In the mean time, keep your eyes open for Snoop around the centre next time you are here.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Jack is back!

After a nice Winter's rest, I have started to get Jack, our Perregrine Falcon, flying again. It will not be long till he is back on form flying over the deer paddock.

You may be lucky enough to see him this weekend in training, but if not then be sure to check him out next weekend when he will be on a scheduled flight at some point during the day.

He is still a little slow (for a perregrine) but it will only take a few weeks until he is back on top form and giving all you photographers a real test for in flight shots.

Monday, 14 March 2011

New Keeper

Some of you may have noticed a new face around the Centre over the last weekend. Well, this is Leonie. Leonie is our newest keeper and has been taken on as maternity cover whilst Louise is away.

Leonie came to us from working in a  pet shop and a veterinary practice and after studying for both a ND in animal management and countryside management. Leonie has also volunteered in the past at animaline rescue centre, and so has some experience with British Wildlife already.

We all welcome Leonie here and hope she settles in quickly and enjoys her time with us at the BWC.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

New Buzzard

This past week has seen another arrival at the British Wildlife Centre. A new buzzard, pictured above, has come to us as a wild rescue through our vets from Liberty's Falconry Centre. "Michael" as we have tentatively named him, is a lovely looking bird but unfortunately in no good state to return to the wild. We offered him a home here to save him from being put-to-sleep, and he is settling in very well.

Michael is in the aviary with Bella, above, and we hope they will pair up and maybe next year we will have buzzard chicks at the Centre. Some of you may remember, we have had chicks before in the past. Indeed that is where Infinity came from, our buzzard member of the flying team, daughter of Bella and Billy.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Adders emerge

"Dance of the Adders" - © Matt Binstead

Finally a little bit of sun has blessed the Centre this year. Temperatures have been up, and some of our more scaly residents have started to emerge from their Winter brumation.

Here in the UK we have 6 species of reptile recognised as living in the wild today. The grass snake, smooth snake, adder, sand lizard, common lizard and slow-worm. Of these we currently house 3, but plans are underway to build new reptile pits around our nature reserve boardwalk to house all 6 species separately.

Other lizards, such as the wall lizard and green lizard, are found in some areas of the UK but are yet to be fully recognised.

The 1st of our reptiles to emerge this year were the adders, first seen on the 24th of February and since having been seen warming up in the little morning sun we have had over the last few days. We have been lucky in the last few years to see our adders "dance", and we hope they will continue to do so this year.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

New Kestrel on Display

Over the past couple of days we have had a little tidy up around our aviaries. Some of the old shelters have gone, and a new lower shelter for the Eagle Owls has been put up. The trees have been lopped to prevent dead branches from falling and breaking the pens, and the pheasants have been moved on.

As for our Kestrel aviary, we decided to put our new male kestrel out on display there. We will be calling him "Kes" of course. The original plan was to train him to fly, but I think he will fair much better out on display where we hope to find him a mate later in the year.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

New Enclosure

Those of you that have visited us so far this year will have noticed our new enclosure. Built where we used to have our red squirrels, we are hoping this new pen will be home to pine marten kitts.

Many of you will know we have our fingers crossed this year that Bonnie will produce a litter of kitts. If everything goes well the plan is for them to eventually live in this new enclosure. Being as large as it is will allow us to get in there with them and keep them friendly, allowing for some fantastic photographic opportunities as well as using them for film and schools. Of course, if Bonnie does not produce, then the pen has been thought out as an ideal photographic area to allow photographers access to some of the other animals we will have this year... badger cubs, fox cubs etc etc

In the mean time it may well be used for our wildcat kittens before they go to their new homes.

The pen still needs to be painted to allow the wire to "disappear" to the eye, and we are currently adding bark chip and setups to the enclosure. The final touch will be a grass meadow mix to give it some life and some nice flowers in which pathways will be created for photographers to use.