Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BWPA Awards

Another thank you from me to all of you who again have congratulated me, this time on my photograph awarded in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.

The above photo of Flo has been commended in the BWPA "Animal Portrait" category, and has been used by many newspapers this past weekend as one of the photos to advertise the awards. It will appear in  a book and exhibition, and I will be attending the awards next month to see the opening of the exhibition.

I have been very lucky this year with my photos, and of course am very pleased with the Countryfile competition, but this award means much more to me as is a competition a lot of the professional photographers enter, and my photo will now be in a book alongside the likes of Andy Rouse, Mark Hamblin and Danny Green etc.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Badgers on the move

Last Thursday we had a little move around with our badgers. For the past couple of weeks we have been working on our semi-wild badger sett, preparing it for a family of badgers. At the same time we wanted to move our two friendly badgers Titch and Honey from their off display enclosure to on view. Therefore we decided to move our badgers from the display sett out on to the nature reserve, leaving hand-reared Toby behind, and introduce Titch and Honey to Toby in the main enclosure.

We started by catching up the four badgers, Murray, Humbug, Bubble and Squeak from the main pen and drove them out to the wild sett.

After adding some fresh straw for them to drag in to make their bedding, we slowly introduced them one at a time to their new home.

Once they had all been re-homed safely it was time to collect Titch and Honey and introduce them to their new home.

It wasn't long until Honey was out and about and exploring her new home. Normally for the badger keeper talk we only had Toby make an appearance, and one or two of the others on a rare appearance. But already this pas weekend has seen both Toby and Titch come out for the talk. I am sure it will just be a matter of time until Honey settles on to her new home too and joins them in the afternoon.

As for the now semi-wild badgers... they have settled in extremely well. They are fenced in to an extremely large area, and we still feed them daily. Their sett is visible from the Wetland Boardwalk, and I wouldn't be surprised for you to see them in the late afternoon as the light starts to darken.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

New Otter, Grace

On Sunday, we introduced a new otter to our collection. Above is a photo of "Grace" who came to us from the New Forest Wildlife Park, in the New Forest. Originally Grace was a wild orphan cub, but after being rehabilitated by the NFWP they were unable to get the cooperation from local landowners to allow her to be released back where she came from. Having been in captivity now for nearly 3 years, it is believed she is told old to be returned and so needed a permanent new home.

With Stirling having recently lost his mate, we thought we could offer here that home. The hope is he will pair  up nicely with Stirling in the future and possibly even mate to produce more otter cubs.

As you can see from Ian Rentoul's photographs above, she was shy at first to enter her new enclosure, but was soon rushing out to explore. If you come to the Centre she is now in our third otter pen, but is still very shy so you will have to be patient to get a glimpse of her while she settles in.

Thanks to Ian for his photographs of her release. To see more of Ian's photos check out his flickr page linked.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fox in Snow

Thank you to all of you who have come up to me or messaged me one way or another to congratulate me on being one of the finalists int he Countryfile competition.

The above photo of "Fox in Snow" I took last December in the snow we had, won the "In all weathers" category to become one of the finalists, and feature in the Countyfile calender which will be on sale to help raise money for children in need.

I was not able to put it up on the blog before today, for fear of making it look like I was trying to manipulate the public voting which closed last night. Over all winner will be announced in 3 weeks time on the programme, and of course we all have our fingers crossed at the Centre.

It's extra special for me as the photo is of Pickles. One last moment for her in the limelight after she sadly passed away earlier this year.

Thank you again, and coming up later this week... new otter arrival news.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fergus out on Display

Fergus is now out on display! We have introduced him in with our female Kendra in the middle of the three enclosures. The hope is they will settle down nicely with each other over the Winter, and hopefully mate next year to produce more young wildcat kittens here at the Centre.

Wildcats are tricky too breed successfully, and we have been VERY successful in the past, but this year has just been one disappointment after another. After last weeks announcement of our new litter of kittens, they have since passed away. We had been keeping them very quiet due to the loss of both the first litter earlier this year to accidental death by the mother, and the father due to cancer, but at just over 8 weeks... and with them beginning to be spotted by the public, we thought it safe to announce the arrivals. Unfortunately one died earlier this week and the other two at the end of the week. We are awaiting post mortem reports on them all.

In brighter wildcat news, it is that time when we can start moving our kittens sired by Lex and Kendra last year around. Isla, pictured above, is moving to a new home up in Scotland this Monday, where she will be paired up with a nice young male to hopefully play an important role in the breeding programme. This has left Richy Junior on his own, so we have moved Iona over to his enclosure to give Kendra and Fergus more space. Keeping up?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Introducing "Fergus", the Wildcat

Thursday evening saw the arrival of a new male wildcat, who we have named Fergus. Fergus could play a very important role in the breeding programme of Scottish Wildcats, and may well end up being our main dominant tom. Currently he is housed off display in a holding pen while we get him microchipped and vaccinated, whilst moving around our other wildcats to make it easier and less stressful to put him on display. I would hope to see him out in his new home by the end of next week.

At the same time as Fergus arriving, we also acquired some water shrews and a male weasel. The water shrews are also currently off display while they settle down into their breeding pairs. Soon we will have one of these pairs on display in our hedgerow pond.

The male weasel is already in his display pen. Housed in half of the inside weasel exhibit, with the female in the other half, we are hopeful they will settle down together and we may be able to introduce them for breeding next year.