Friday, 30 January 2015


And so we arrive to the two most popular, in terms of entries, categories. Today we share with you the winner of the "Animals in their habitat" category. Winner chosen by David Llyod.

So here we go, the WINNER of the "ANIMALS IN THIER HABITAT" section of our competition...

"At home with a Muntjac" by Zena Saunders

David says - "This was a clear winner, while the others were also good, this one stopped me longer than the others. The colours are wonderful, and the natural frame of the grass, tree trunks and branches above complete this image of a muntjac in it's environment. The wider field of view is often as important as the subject itself."

Zena wins a years membership to the Centre and a place in our coffee shop gallery with this image above. Well done!

And my runner up?..

"Fox" by Joanne Iredale

I found it difficult to pick the runner up from what has always been my favourite category over the years. But this year my eyes kept going back to this photo of Flo. A lovely picture of her yawning in the sun, beautifully placed in her habitat and with great composition. Well done Joanne.

Joanne's photo will appear in our coffee shop gallery for 2015 alongside the other 11 winner and runner ups.

Well done to Zena and Joanne, and as always thanks to David for picking his winner.

Next up the last category... Animal Portaits.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

BWC Photo Comp, "ANIMALS IN MOTION" Winner!

Today we announce the winner of the "Animals in Motion" category. Some great photos in this one, and below is David Lloyd's choice for the winner.

So here we go, the WINNER of the "ANIMALS IN MOTION" section of our competition...

"Otter" by David Nunn

David says - "I know how difficult it can be to achieve this picture, but David has managed it well here. Having the focus on the right spot on a fast moving subject and the clean lush background are two factors which made this a pick for me"

Congratulations to David Nunn for this winning photo. His photo has won him a years membership to the Centre, and a place in our coffee shop gallery for 2015!

And my runner up?..

"The rut begins" by Bobs Photography

I always enjoy looking at the photos in the "Motion" category, and this year this one caught my eye. You can feel the motion in it, and almost see the deer moving across the picture. Albus chasing off Olivander, with the hinds in the background watching on... it tells a great story.

Well done Bobs Photography, this picture will be on display in our gallery alongside the other 11 chosen photos.

Next one in a couple of days. Congratulations again to David and Bobs, and thanks to David Llyod.

Monday, 26 January 2015


Another day, another winner announced... Today it is for the "Animals and their Keepers" category. You know the score with the links below, check them out... but only after looking at the winning and runner up photo below.

Thanks to David Llyod for picking the winners.

So here we go, the WINNER of the "ANIMALS AND THEIR KEEPERS" section of our competition...

"Coochie coo" by Dave Burden

David says - "This one was the only one which I felt showed a close intimacy between the keeper and the subject. That and the warm side lighting made this the standout one for me in this category."

Well done Dave, great photo, and you win a membership to the Centre for a year plus a place in our coffee shop gallery for 2015.

And my runner up?..

"Red squirrel lady" by Zena Saunders

Zena's photo of Meg with the red squirrels. This sums up the relationship and trust the animals have with us keepers in one shot, as well as showing the beauty of our walkthrough enclosure and the experience you get when visiting. 

Zena's photo will appear in our coffee shop gallery for 2015 alongside the other 11 winner and runner ups.

See you back in a couple of days for the "Animals in Motion" winners. Well done once again to Dave and Zena, and as always thanks to David Llyod.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

BWC Photo Comp, "FAUNA FUN" Winner!

Next up today is the winner of the Fauna Fun category. Once again many thanks to David Llyod for being our professional judge and choosing the winners, and if you haven't already... please do check the links to his websites below. You will not regret it...

So here we go, the WINNER of the "FAUNA FUN" section of our competition...

"You talking to me?"" by Tim Dawes

David says - "There were a number in this category which could have won, but this one stopped me and at first I thought it was two snakes. It was hard to pick, as the others were amusing too, but the unique aspect of this one won through for me."

Well done Tim! You have won a years membership to the Centre, and your photo will be part of our gallery in the coffee shop for the rest of the year.

And my runner up?..

"I'm no Foxglove" by Kevin Brown

It could only be one... I think this is a fantastic photograph, and of all the photos I have seen over the past year, the one I wish I witnessed with my own eyes. A butterfly landing on the end of Frodo's nose... a one in a million thing to see, and to capture it on camera was a great job. Nice one Kevin!

Kevin's photo will appear in our coffee shop gallery for 2015 alongside the other 11 winner and runner ups.

Don't forget, the next few categories will be announced over the next few days, which I think works out with the overall winner being shown the first week of February.

Once again, many congratulations to Tim and Kevin!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

BWC Photo Comp, "JUNIOR" Winner!

So here we go, the first post of six announcing the winner and runner up of each of our categories for our BWC Photo Competition, 2014.

Before showing you the first winner, I would just like to say once again a huge thank you to Professional Wildlife Photographer, and friend of the Centre, David Lloyd for picking out the winners!

David is an incredible photographer, perhaps most well known for his "black and whites" and more arty style. A lot of African wildlife makes up his portfolio, but David also runs workshops here at the BWC during the late spring/early summer evenings. I will leave a link here to his website, Facebook page and workshop announcements... please do take a look and prepare to be inspired!

So here we go, the WINNER of the "JUNIOR" section of our competition...

"Eagle Owl" by Amy Stanwell

David says - "There were three or four really good pictures, but this one offered a portrait simplicity which has always appealed to me. It is the composition, low picture taking angle, and the green of the background compliments the orange of the owl so well."

Congratulations to Amy! Amy wins a membership to the BWC for a year so she can come and take more great photos, and of course her photo above will be in our coffee shop gallery for 2015!

And my runner up?..

"Long Eared Owl" by Mya Bambrick

This lovely photograph of Archimedes, our long eared owl. Similar to the winner, I appreciate, but this is one that stood out to me when looking through the juniors... soft shades and beautiful detail and clarity in the feathers around the eye. Well done Mya!

Mya's photo will appear in our coffee shop gallery for 2015 alongside the other 11 winner and runner ups.

So there we go, the ball is now rolling, and the next category will be announced in a couple of days with the others following and leading to the overall winner being announced in the first week of February.

Well done once again to Amy and Mya, and thanks to David Lloyd.

Monday, 19 January 2015


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronis Co. Ltd"

There was a new draw at the Centre this weekend... A kingfisher!

We have had kingfishers around the Centre and out on our reserve for a few years. Very often when walking my dog I see a glimpse of blue fly by the waters, or hear in the distance the distinctive sound they make. But over the past couple of weeks, quite often one has visited our otter ponds in the afternoon. I think the extra rainfall causing the water to rush through out sleuces has brought new fish in to the ponds, and this is what has attracted the kingfisher.

This past weekend this female kingfisher above spent a good couple of hours at our main otter pond, and made several dives... successfully too... providing much fun for the public to sit and watch. She was so popular in fact, that after myself and others put some photos up on the internet in the evening there was a gaggle (what do you call a group of photographer?) of photographers coming out on the sunday to see if she returned... and she didn't disappoint!.. Sure enough again in the afternoon, she turned up for about an hour or so for some fishing.

 "This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronis Co. Ltd"

Unfortunately I don't have a lens on my camera that could get close enough to her on the other side of the otter pond, but I did manage to get a few record shots. Above she is coming out of the water with a fish in her mouth after a successful dive... can you see her? :-) ...

 "This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronis Co. Ltd"

... here it is a bit more cropped in. Click on it to make it a bit bigger if you wish.

 "This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronis Co. Ltd"

She was so settled, and quite happy to have a group of people watching her from the pathway in full view. She even showed no signs of fear with the otters swimming and playing just feet beneath her. Above she is about two thirds up and to the right in the photo, and you can see Elwood in the background, just feet away eating a fish... Wouldn't of surprised me if the kingfisher dived down and tried to steal it from him. That is how bold she was!

 "This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronis Co. Ltd"

In fact, the kingfisher was such a hit, that even little old Buster was overlooked for the couple of hours she was her.. despite his best efforts in being playful, playing with stones and twigs on the bank close to us and even chasing his tail! I have never seen an otter do that before.

Anyway, in my failure of photos, I thought you may like to see some amazing picture taken of her this weekend. Above is a beautiful portrait of her taken by Steven Whitehead.

And this stunning photo shows her more in her habit, and concentrating on the water below before diving in. This photo was taken by member Gillian Penny.

Thanks to both for allowing me to share their great photos. This kingfishers arrival leads on to good news too... With all the excitement of the weekend, David has decided to move the construction of the kingfisher bank to the top of the priority list... hopefully this way we may be able to catch the season they are looking for mates and a place to nest.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Samsung NX1

Photo by Gary K Mann

A lot of you have seen me around the Centre with a new camera these past couple of weeks... No, I have not given up on my beloved Nikon... But I have been asked by Samsung to be one of their 5 "Imageloggers" for their new NX1 camera. What this means is I get to test the camera and put it through its paces, sharing photos I take over social networking sites and uploading them for Samsung to use and in return I get to keep the camera... how lucky is that!

It didn't take me long to agree, especially with the great exposure it will get for the Centre, but at the end of the day, hey, it's a new toy to play with and who doesn't like to do that!

Photo by Gary K Mann

I will certainly in a position to be able to get them a decent amount of wildlife photos in a short period of time, and will happily put it through its paces to see how good this camera really is. You can see I have already got a bit down and dirty with it... but then the is is the conditions it needs to be able to cope in for a wildlife photographer. Incidentally, this lens is only on loan to me so if anyone from Samsung is reading this... don't worry, it will be cleaned and as good as new before I send it back :-)

Now I won't clog up the BWC blog with how I am getting on with this camera, the only thing you may notice is a disclaimer under a few photos over the next couple of months just to say it was taken with the Samsung NX1. However I have done this post as a lot of people have asked me to share photos taken with it and what I think of it. I know a lot of you are very keen photographers, so for those that are interested in the Samsung NX1... or just interested in seeing more photos that I take from around the BWC, then head over to my sister blog

Here is where I will post new photos taken with this camera, all from around the BWC, and my thoughts, opinions and eventual review. Head over now to see the initial announcement post.

I also know most of you come here from the link posted on our BWC Facebook page. As part of the deal with Samsung I have to share images on social network sites with people. So again, for those that use Facebook and want to see how I get on with this camera, and/or just want to see more photos of the animals here at the Centre, I have just created a new page. Click on this link and then click on the "Like" button.

This is all new to me, so bear with the page as I add photos to it and allow it to grow. 

Anyway, those interested can follow those links, but just to finish up here are a couple of photos that were taken with the Samsung NX1 over the last couple of weeks. Initial impressions, I am quite impressed.

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd"

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd"

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd"

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd"

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd"

David Llyod is currently looking through the shortlisted entries for the BWC Photo competition, and so we should be able to start announcing the winners and runner-ups from next week sometime.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

New Pine Marten on Display

Yesterday saw a move around for some of our animals that we house of display, but this did include moving one of our new pine martens on to display. You can see him above, having a peek out of his nest box a few weeks a go.

And here he is today... making leaps and bounds!..

No seriously, he is settling in well, and although not liking the heavy rain today normally comes out for feeding in the afternoon, and follows you around while you scatter feed checking it all out.

This chap came from the New Forest Wildlife Park, and we have named him "Drogo" as in Game of Thrones... But don't worry, I'm sure we will return to some Harry Potter names in the future.

To complete a trio of peekers, let me remind you of our other new pine marten, this female above. She will be on display later this year after we retire our old girl, Buttons, to off display. We have named her "Daenerys" or Dani for short... Isn't she beautiful?.. Like a princess.. But she's not a princess, she's a Khaleesi!

Eventually they will be part of our breeding program. They will both be too young this year, although we may pair them up to see how they react with company, but then next year we will pair them up with our other pine martens and hopefully have a bit more success than recent years.

So, Drogo is now in our pine marten pen opposite the wildcats. Built four year ago, but first time housing a pine marten! The larger size is due to this enclosure having a lack of run system, being a potential future photographic pen for pine martens and being ever optimistic... being a pen to house more than one pine marten when we eventually have a litter of kits.

Come and see Drogo when you get the chance.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Highland Cows on the Reserve

Our three new Highland cows are now out on the nature reserve, and they really do look good to there! You may be lucky enough to see them from the Wetland Boardwalk, but at the moment a better place may actually be from the second car park at the Centre, right on the edge of the nature reserve.

Last year saw the completion of our reserve in terms of the landscaping, and so now the trucks and digger are no longer visiting, it puts us in the position where we can, and have to, start actively managing the habitat.

This is great news of course, and has already seen many new species arrive at the Centre over the years in our original 16 acres. This new 10 acres we have completed bring our reserve up to around 26 acres of habitat for wildlife!

The new area is being created as a wildflower meadow. We are hoping this will attract in many new bird species and invertebrates, to add to the mammals, birds and reptiles we already have out there.

So where do the cows come in?.. Well, we need to graze the different habitats we have and what better way than with natural conservation grazing. Using the highland cows, the horses we already have, and on occasion loan of sheep from the family farm we will hopefully keep the reserve looking nice and a thriving habitat for wildlife.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year!

On behalf of the Centre and all the staff, let me just wish you all a very Happy New Year! Hope 2015 is a happy and healthy one for you all.

The turn of the year here has been business as usual. The animals still need to be fed and looked after over the Christmas period, but personally there is nothing else I'd rather do... after all it is the time of year to spend with your family, and yes... I did go and see my "human" family, but I am lucky enough to have an extended furry and feathery family too!

This past week we have been open to the public, and three of the days has seen our otter ponds ice over. Unfortunately it has all melted now, but for the three days the otters had great fun playing in, on and around the ice.

You can see from the above two photos that Elwood and Emmy are perfectly used to it all. Elwood in particular was crashing around, breaking the ice, scratching on top of it... all great fun to see.

Even Buster came out for a bit of fun... well, I say fun... he was very wary of the ice. It took him a while to be happy to walk on it. Buster has been doing well this week though. It seems his confidence has grown quickly, and he has been out most days. I even had him on the bank with the other two for one of my talks!.. Although when he realised he swam off... but he is getting there, it won't be long.

I have said many times in the past that our otters love chasing each other through the ice when the ponds freeze over, and finally have a photo to show you. In this picture above the bottom otter isn;t Emmy's reflection, it is Elwood swimming under the ice. They chase each other like this until the one on top falls through, to the one below comes up for air. Brilliant to watch.

Of all the animals, many do quieten down this time of year, but the otters become more active. They seem to love the colder weather, and always seem to thoroughly enjoy playing when the ponds have iced over.