Friday, 29 May 2015

Red Squirrel Kittens

Our red squirrel kittens are beginning to emerge from their nest boxes!

We have two litters of red squirrels in our walk through enclosure, and over the last couple of days one of those litters has begun to start venturing out of their dreys for the first time.

On wednesday a couple of heads were seen poking of the nest boxes, and then yesterday one of the kittens got brave enough to venture out and have a little explore.

He tried to encourage his sibling to join him, but he wasn't quite brave enough... maybe over the weekend. 

While watching them yesterday, I saw four different ones, and all looked healthy and well. The next few days could be fun watching them gain confidence on the branches, and causing their mum much grief!

If you are hoping to see them, they are currently in the nest boxes in the first pen you come to in the enclosure. What time they will be up and about is anyones guess, but I saw them early afternoon yesterday.

Our red squirrel talk is at 10.30am, and is the best time to try and see the adults at the moment. They are still active through the rest of the day, but you just have to be a little more patient as the mums are usually off looking after their kittens.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Open for Half Term

Just a quick reminder... After our very busy Bank Holiday weekend, we are open everyday for the rest of this week for the schools half-term. Hope to see some of you here, I am sure our animals will be happy to see you...

Well most them anyway...


Friday, 22 May 2015

New Hazel Dormice

I have just got back from a trip to Wildwood Trust, near Herne Bay, to drop off a kestrel and collect two new pairs of dormice.

As most of you will already be aware, we are part of the national breeding programme which keeps, breeds and re-introduces dormice back in to the wild. After some very successful years, we have had a quiet spell for the past two years... our pairs have got old... so time to freshen up the group, and bring some new ones in.

These new dormice will be housed in our breeding enclosures opposite our badgers and snakes. To be completely honest, the chances of you seeing them are slim... very slim! They are very nocturnal, and hibernate for half the year! But then this is why we have our lovely nocturnal house.

In our nocturnal house we have swapped the day and night around, meaning these highly nocturnal animals such as our dormice, hedgehogs and bats, can be seen out during the day. So, if you really want to see a hazel dormouse, that will be the best place to look.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Red Squirrel Kittens

Firstly, bear with me as these are old photos, but I just wanted to bring you the exciting news that we have squirrel kittens at the Centre!

We have had a slow start to the season, especially where our red squirrels are concerned, but this past week have noticed that five of our females have a litter of kittens, including some in our walk through enclosure.

As mentioned above, these are old photos, the kittens are not yet out and about for people to see... still very much tucked up in their nest boxes, but just wanted to bring you the good news. Of course we will update you as soon as they have emerged, and you can then come and try and get a glimpse of these beautiful animals!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Following on from my post at the end of last week, our nature reserve is really beginning to green up for the Spring, and over the last couple of weeks, the bluebells have been on good form.

Luckily for a couple of our owl photographic days... meaning we could set up many of the owls on natural perches in the beautiful violet colour!

Have a look on our photographic social sites to see many visitors photos of our owls in the bluebells, even including a couple of Hedwig the snowy owl in the bluebells!..

Make a note in your diary for next year if you are keen to photograph our owls in the bluebells... our owl days around the end of April, early May seem to offer the best chances. Of course though, it depends on the seasons at the time.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Remember our visiting kingfisher from earlier this year?.. Well we have a new visitor, and although maybe not as striking and iconic, she's is a real beauty and a rarity to see!

Above is a photo of a lesser spotted woodpecker, a rare sight around here, and the first one I have ever seen in the wild! This is a female, she lacks the red "crown" that the males wear, and has been seen in our otter ponds pretty much everyday now for the past couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago Izzy was feeding the otters, and heard a "pecking"noise. When looking she saw this little bird drilling away on one of the bullrushes, looking for grubs. She is a lovely little thing, and has been happily posing in front of cameras the past weekend and is not too bothered by the otters at all. If you are lucky enough to see here yourself this weekend, just be quiet and patient. Don't go rushing up to see her as she will likely spook, but take it easy and she should stay and let you watch her at work.

Our season seems to be a little later this year, a lot of activity is delayed and the bluebells are only just at their peak now... luckily for our owl photographic day yesterday! I think many off our litters will be later this year, but the greenery on the reserve is really beginning to come through now.

This is especially great for our owl photographic days, and really allows us to find some natural perches for them to offer you a "wild" looking photograph of all seven British owls!

Hopefully see some of you over the weekend, and if you do visit, don't forget to keep an eye on the otter ponds for our rare visitor!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

April's Photo of the Month

"Turbo, the Hungry Hedgehog" by Sue Cro

After a flurry of posts on dancing adders, I couldn't possibly pick a photo of them for April's photograph of the month could I?..

Well, I could of done... there were some lovely ones seen of them dancing, mating and even shedding! Heron chicks on the nest, water voles and red squirrels seemed to be most popular for April as far as I could see, including a stunning red squirrel portrait looking right down the lens. But I decided to go for this photo above of one of our hedgehogs, taken by Sue Cro on one of our photographic days.

This is a lovely photo of "Turbo" which Sue has captured well. Although we bring out our hedgehogs in to the dell on our photo days, it is still tricky to get something nice, but Sue has manage to find an angle to offer no distractions in the background really making the hedgehog stand out. The depth of field is spot on, and what really grabbed my attention was the tongue poking out perfectly! I can imagine Turbo racing from one side of the Dell to the other, tongue out, concentrating and on a mission. Sue's photo has really captured Turbo's personality to a tee, which is what a good portrait should always do!

To see more of Sue Cro's photos, click on her name above to visit her flickr photostream.

Well done Sue, your photograph will be in the Coffee shop gallery for 2016, alongside the other photos of the month, and will be in with a chance to win a photographic day voucher here at the Centre next year.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Dancing Adder Videos

I think the dancing for this season may be over... I have seen only one more short period of action since my post last week, and that was for a few minutes Saturday afternoon, luckily some of you were here to see it.

Will they dance this weekend?.. To be honest, I doubt it very much. The weather has not been great, and they have been rather inactive the last few days, so if we get a warm spell it is possible... and I remember a couple of years a go they stopped for a week and then started up again for a few days, but my feeling is that this years dancing is done.

So, to round up the dancing adder posts, have a look at a couple of videos...

This one above is a few clips of the adders dancing from this year, from my afternoon in with them a couple of Tuesdays ago. I recorded about 30 minutes in slow motion, but have kept it at normal speed for most of it and cut it down to about 4 minutes. It also tells you a bit more about the "dance".

This clip is a couple of bits in slow motion to show the movement a bit more. I believe it is about a 1/4 of the normal speed.

And, if that is not enough for you, I include a link below to a video taken by member Duncan Jennings. Duncan has spent a bit of time watching the adders over the past few weeks, and kindly kept me informed of the comings and goings while I was busy elsewhere. Not only did he get to see some dancing, and some mating, he saw one of the males shed his skin out in the open... very rare to see that here, and Duncan even managed to catch it on camera!

So, to see an adder shedding his skin, follow this link to Duncan's video.

And to see more of Duncan's photos and videos, follow this link to his flickr photo stream.