Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Red Squirrel Week

Photo by Gary K Mann

This week (Monday the 28th of September - Sunday the 4th of October) is Red Squirrel week. A week dedicated to raising the awareness of our native red squirrels in the UK. So what can you do to help?.. Well one of the things you could do is follow this link to the Wildlife Trusts page. Here they explain more about the week, a little about red squirrel conservation and links to things you can do to help.

So what better time than to bring a catch up, or round up, of our squirrel news for this year. Our breeding group has done very well again, and we have many kittens that have been bred this year. Most are now back at the Centre, waiting to be redistributed around the group. New pairings need to be made where older squirrels currently are, and new holders are joining the group too.

In terms of releases... so far nothing is confirmed for this year, but owner David Mills does have a couple of things in the pipeline. How soon these will come to effect depends on many things, but as always I will bring you news as soon as I am able.

With squirrels in the news, what other conservation stories have cropped up in to public eyes. Over the last few days there have been two other notable things which we are helping with, which has seen a bit of coverage in the national news. Firstly, Wildcats! And what better way to show you how wild a wildcat really is than with the photo above!

Changes within the management group of wildcats has taken place this year, and with renewed motivation it seems things may finally be getting a bit of a move on. Do you remember we had our cats tested for purity? Results are in, and all confirmed results are good with one that needs re-testing due to a mix up. 

Ah, thats a better "wild" wildcat!

So, good news, and with what seems like a bit more direction with efforts now, we will likely breed from one of our pair of cats next year once again. Short term, later this season we will re test our remaining cat for purity, and while giving them all their annual flu boosters take pelage photographs and measurements to send to the studbook holder to strengthen their records and understanding of purity in wildcats. All very exciting.!

And look at that... I have managed to slip a pine marten photo in to the last couple of posts now :-)

We have helped the Vincent Wildlife Trust in the past with pine marten scats, enclosure measurements etc all with their goal of relocating pine martens back in to Wales this Autumn. So why am I bringing this up again?..

Recently the first few pine marten have been moved to Wales! More will be trapped under licence, and relocated to Wales over the coming weeks. In total 20 individuals will be moved, with a further 20 to be relocated next year. They will be fitted with radio collars so that their progress can be monitored.

If this is successful, the long term plan is to look at relocating to areas of England.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Animal Catch-up

I know, I know... the blog has been a little slow on news lately, but our summer period has been very busy, and with schools and photography groups booked in form the very start of our closed period, we don't get much time to catch our breath.

The deer rut will soon be upon us, and there is a couple of other exciting animal news that I look forward to sharing soon, but for now I brief catch up on some of our new arrivals this year.

The polecat kittens have now been separated and moved off display. It won't be long until they are collected for a release programme. This has allowed us to move the male, Whitstable, back on display with Oriel. They have settled in together well again, and it is good to see him back in his home. Fingers crossed for more kitts next year.

Hugo the hedgehog has come on really well, and proved to be a star with the many visitors who have seen him. We have decided to keep hold of him here to help with our school groups and tours, and are even considering pairing him up with one of our females to breed some hogletts for release next year. We will of course keep you up to scratch on if and when this happens. 

Our adder babies are doing great. Last years are feeding well, and this years are often seen out and about too. Have a look in the photo above (click on it to make it bigger)... There are actually three youngsters in this picture! One from last year and two of this years. They, along with the others, will stay with us until big enough that we have to remove them from the enclosure. Some will then go to other centres, and hopefully we will be in a position to release some of the others back to the wild.

Remember the kingfisher who visited the otter ponds everyday for a couple of weeks in the Spring? Well... walking the dog around the reserve, I hear her most days and so know she is still around, but recently she has been spotted back at the Centre again! The last few days has seen her milling around the Wetland Boardwalk so keep your eyes and ears open if you venture down there anytime soon.

You didn't think I would do an animal update and not throw a photo of a pine marten in did you?.. Both our newbies are settling in well, Drogo above in particular is becoming a star. Often seen out, and active in the afternoons, he is a very curious and playful marten and I have spent many a fun evening spending time with him. Hopefully next year we will be able to pair him up and hope for kitts the following year.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Heather Angel, Digital Photography Day.

On Wednesday the 7th of October, 9.30am - 4.30pm, we are hosting a photographic workshop with tuition from award winning professional wildlife photographer Heather Angel. To see some stunning wildlife photographs follow this link to see Heather's website:

The day is limited to 12 places, and so placement must be booked and secured in advance. The cost of the day is £149 per person, including lunch and refreshments, and we require a £50 deposit to hold your place. If you are interested in more information, or to book a place, call the office on 01342 834658 or email info@britishwildlifecentre.co.uk

More details are on our website, but I will lift the description here for you to save clicking...

"After a two year absence we are pleased to welcome Heather Angel who will be hosting her popular workshop this autumn. Heather Angel is an award winning, professional wildlife photographer with sixty published books to her name. 

This photo day combines tuition and photography, with wonderful opportunities to get images of the Centre's animals. The day starts with a presentation and expert advice on composition and lighting. This is followed by practical photographic sessions, with access inside some of the enclosures with a keeper, providing a combination of good vantage points and natural surroundings. 

You will need to bring plenty of memory cards and battery power! It promises to be a packed and varied day which adds up to a great package for anyone interested in improving their photography skills, particularly of Britain't wonderful native wildlife. (Do come prepared to work in light rain)."

So there you go... book a place now to get some great tuition from one of our best wildlife photographers, and to go home with some fantastic photos of our animals!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Polecats Playing

Would you like to see some pictures of our polecat kits playing?.. Oh who am I kidding, of course you would! Well here you go...

Oriel has five healthy polecat kits, all in the main polecat enclosure, and they have been bundle of fun over the past few weeks. Polecats are very playful at a few months old, and are often seen here chasing each other around and jumping on top of one another. They even try and get mum involved sometimes, much to her annoyance.

We have yet to find out if they are males or females, but from looking at them from a distance we suspect it may be just the one female and the rest boys!

We will have the youngsters here for a few more weeks before they are collected as part of a release programme. If you get the chance, do come and have a look at them playing. It really is great fun to watch!

Once the youngsters have moved on, we will re-introduce Whitstable back in to the pen with Oriel. This will then give them plenty of time to settle before hopefully mating again next year.

Friday, 4 September 2015

August's Photo of the Month

"Badger" by Benn McIntyre

So, the only month of the year where we are open to the public every day has come to an end. August always sees a lot of visitors to the Centre, and despite the damp and rain, this year was no exception.

Lots of good photos have been uploaded and shared, and most popular for the past month seems to have been our otters and once again... our new little weasel, Neve. However it was this photograph above, taken by Benn McIntyre, of one of our badgers "Honey" that caught my eye.

I know how tricky it can be to take a good photograph of our badgers, but Benn has managed to do that here. He has found an angle that doesn't show any of the enclosure in the background, and beautifully managed to give the impression of being far more eye level than he would have been, allowing more intimacy. The depth of field is great, with the background thrown out allowing Honeys head to jump out, and an area of the foreground softly blurred adding even more depth to the image. Well done Benn, a lovely portrait in a tricky setting.

Benn's photo will be on display in our coffee shop gallery next year, with the other eleven chosen photographs from this year. He will also be in with a chance to win a photographic day here at the Centre.

To see more of Benn McIntyre's photos follow the link in his name to see his facebook page, and a few more photos of our animals.