Friday, 28 March 2014

Water Vole Island

Okay, okay... I know I have been a bit slow on posts lately, but it's a busy time when half the team are in training and we are trying to get everything ready for Easter half term. All while looking after school groups and photographers... feel sorry for us yet?.. No me neither, it's a great life.

Anyway, a lot of you have been enquiring about the lack of activity on here over the past week or two, none more so than a Mrs Chris Groves!.. I normally wouldn't bow to pressure, but I just like my cake too much and can't risk this line of supply.

So here you go... this post is dedicated to Lucy's mummy, Chris Groves, baker of the finest cakes I have ever had the pleasure of tasting (although the memory is fading, we haven't had one for at least a few weeks now Chris!)

As with every year, we have had a little tidy of our water vole island before the Easter half term. We didn't go for a full clean this year as a lot of it is so well established, and we didn't want to risk the balance. We will have another look at this next year.

We have however thinned out the weed in the water, and replanted/freshened up the rush around the edges of the island while re-supporting the tile tubes for holes that were beginning to weaken and sink.

As with every year, we have also replaced the vole family on the island for a fresh set which we hope will be a good display once they have settled in. You will have to be patient to see them, but it will be worth it when you do... they are amazing little animals, and always a pleasure to watch. I often spend an evening in the summer sat at the side of the pond eating my dinner and watching them when no one else is around.

While waiting to see them, keep your eyes open for the frogs. They bred really well last year, and so we have many of all sizes out there, as well as tadpoles already for this year. Of course, the sticklebacks are still in there too as well as many other invertebrates.

In other good, no GREAT news, our water voles on the reserve have been spotted on many occasions already this year. I was a bit concerned with the flooding over the turn of the year, but it seems they new what they were doing to keep safe, and have been spotted out and about more often than usual. Keep your eyes open down there when you are next here, and to see some photos head over to our flickr group! They are doing so well in fact that we may be able to look at releasing voles further down the waterway this year, and really begin to push them through the whole reserve.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Giant Hedgehog

We had a new arrival to the Centre last week, and have moved him to his permanent home today. Meet our new giant hedgehog!

You may have seen him before, in pictures in the news or even in person in some of the parks around the country.

This extra large hedgehog was built for and displayed by Watch TV to help launch the new series of David Attenborough's "Natural Curiosities" for which the hedgehog features in one of the episodes.

Having toured the country, this hedgehog needed a permanent home, and was kindly offered to us as a donation to the Centre and the good work we do. Of course we loved it, and have placed it by the main entrance to the park where we hope it will make a "grand", pun intended, statement.

It certainly catches the eye, and will be a welcome to the Centre the next time you visit.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

1st Harvest Mouse Release

Last week we took the opportunity to use the nicer weather to release our first batch of harvest mice out on to our reserve.

We breed many harvest mice throughout the year, and have started to try and establish a new population down by our wetlands boardwalk. Over the last summer they did very well, and despite very few people actually seeing them, the signs were there... and on the occasion I was lucky enough to see one or two in the early hours of the morning when out with my dog.

The survival rate of natural born harvest mice is very low, and so I would expect the survival rate of our releases to be low too. They are at the bottom of the food chain after all. But if this project continues to go well, and we continue to see evidence of harvest mice being on our reserve, then it will be nice to think we have helped start a new population that in the future may be able to self support itself.

For our release we chose a specific area around the boardwalk, as recommended by the Surrey Wildlife Trust as being a good spot for the project. We provided the mice with nesting materials and will continue to monitor them and supplement their feeding through the spring to give them a real chance at survival.

Later in the season it is hoped that the SWT may do some work to monitor how well they are actually doing. We have done so well in creating the habitat, and have successfully introduced water voles out their which have now bred for the past two years... we hope to achieve the same with our smallest, and arguably cutest, of mammals!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Changing the Guard

The old team, left to right: Leonie, Tom, Izzy, Katie, Lucy, Me!.. and Bess

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me,
Katie left to go to Gatton Park,
"I love everything about trees, especially the bark" - says Katie

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me,
Leonie is off travelling to who knows where,
"I''m off to Australia to see my Richy Bear!" - says Leonie

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me,
Extra bookings, getting busier all the time,
"I need one more to make things all fine" - says Matt

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me, 
Daisy has some experience helping a vet,
"I love British wildlife and the people I've met" - says Daisy

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me, 
Tom came from Plumpton was top of the school,
"Working with British wildlife is cooler than cool" - says Tom

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me, 
Meg's settling in well not finding it fazing,
"I love wildcats I think they're amazing" - says Meg

We're changing the guard at the BWC,
Three new keepers chosen by me,
All fitting in well, all a little crazy,
"The future is good, certainly not hazy" - says Matt

The new team, left to right: Tom.J, Tom.B, Izzy, Lucy, Daisy, Meg, Me!.. and Bess

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Farewell Leonie

Yesterday was Leonie's last day as a keeper at the BWC. She has always thought of going travelling, and with the temptation and lure of a certain "Richy Bear" the other side of the world, she has decided to go to Australia!

Leonie has been at the Centre for the past three years, and has really grown as a person and a keeper in that time. She has enjoyed all aspects of the work and truly has been an asset  to my team... something I think we are all unanimous on here.

I would like to thank Leonie for all her hard work over the years, her dedication to the Centre and to the education and conservation work we carry out. She will be missed by us all and the animals alike.

Good luck on your travels, have fun and don't forget to stay in touch. I will send you pics of Kevin over the summer... Pinky promise.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

2014 Photo Comp Judge

To finish our launch of our annual photographic competition, I would like to announce our professional judge for 2014 is David Lloyd.

David Lloyd is a professional wildlife photographer, who has traveled over the world capturing some of the finest images you will see and winning many awards. David specialises in fine art photography, and has a preference for black and white... I really do urge you to have a look at his website which I will link below, as honestly some of his images are breath taking!

It is not just exotic wildlife he photographs though, David also enjoys capturing British wildlife, and has some beautiful images of red deer taken at his local park... and even some images of our very own residents here, such as Frodo above.

To see more of his art work, follow these links to his website and facebook page.

David Lloyd Facebook

For information on our competition, and how to enter, have a look at the tab at the top of this page "Photo Competition", or head over to our main website also linked at the top.

Good luck!!!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

BWC Photographic Competition 2014

Taken by Izzy's-Photos - flickr

It is time to announce he launch of our 4th annual BWC Photographic competition. Last years was a huge success, and even found national fame with being publicised in the Times newspaper and Daily Mail online, and TV stardom with a spot on BBC South East news!

To find out full details on the categories and how to enter, either follow this link to the official BWC website or have a look under the Photo Competition tab at the top of this page. But in brief...

The competition opens today, Saturday the 1st of March. The closing date for entries is Friday the 14th of November, 2014. 

Photographs must have been taken at the Centre during this year. You can enter your photographs be either putting them in to the relevant discussion category in out BWC Flickr group, or by emailing them to us at 

The competition will be judged by our judging panel of Owner David Mills, Head Keeper and Photographer Matt Binstead and headed by a professional wildlife photographer who will pick the winning images.

As before, winners and runners-up of each category will be displayed for the following year in our gallery in the coffee shop. Winners of each category will receive a membership to the Centre for a year, and over all winner of the competition will win an exclusive photographic day here at the Centre with the Head Keeper.

You are allowed to enter as many categories as you wish, but please remember only two photographs per category. As a reminder, the categories are as follows:

Animal Portrait:
A classic portrait where the animal fills the shot, or showing the animal off in a different light
Taken by Flower Snow - flickr

Animals in their Habitat:
Photo of an animal in very natural surroundings, as if it could have been taken in the wild
Taken by Crowlem - flickr

Animals in Motion:
Animal in action, be it flying, feeding, running, playing, swimming etc...
Taken by Russell Harvey

Animals and their Keepers:
Animals interacting with our keeper, showing the mutual bond they share
Taken by Dap's Images

Fauna Fun:
Fun image of our animals, with a fun caption to go alongside it
"I can roar like a lion" - taken by Gary Stamp

Anything goes in this category, as long as the photographer is aged 16 years or under at the time of taking the photograph
Taken by Kyle Moore

I will post reminders throughout the year, but for now... Good Luck to all who enter!