Monday, 21 March 2016

Buster 's Bachelor Pad

Our young otter, Buster, has been moved in to his new home in the middle otter pond at the Centre. It is a shame to separate him from his parents, especially Dad Elwood, as they often played with each other and chased each other in fun around the pond and through the water. But the time has come for him to become a fully independent otter!

He will likely take a little while to settle in his new surroundings, but I am sure he will be out as normal by the time Easter weekend arrives. In the meantime this gives Emmy and Elmwood more room in the main pond, and I would be surprised if they didn't have more cubs later in the year.

You may remember we welcomed a new polecat, Cassie, to the Centre a couple of months a go? Well she has now been introduced to Billy. Fingers crossed for polecat kits from both our pairs come the summer.

In fact this could be a good year for cubs and kits. With our wildcats paired up as well, the usual deer and small mammals and possibly even some more owlets in a few months. Any news will be posted here.

As well as some animals being moved to new homes, our mice and voles will be moving back to their old homes. For the past couple of weeks their enclosures have had some maintenance work done to endure they are secure. This meant temporary accommodation for some of our smaller mammals... but they will be back in their new homes by the end of the week!

Don't forget this coming weekend is Easter weekend, and so we will be open to the public from Good Friday and for the following two weeks.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Adders are up

The slightly sunnier days over the end of last week saw some of our adders emerge and bask out for the first time this year. A little later than usual for us, I was beginning to get a little concerned, especially with the funny weather we have had this winter. But at least two different adders were seen over the weekend, and both looking very healthy after their winter hibernation.

This is great news of course, as the Spring is when the adders are most active. Will we see the males dancing again?.. I hope so, they have for the last few years, so fingers crossed again for this year. Will we see mating behaviour?.. Not so sure, we were very lucky to witness this last year.

Whatever we see, I am sure it will be great, and hopefully help dispel some myths about this docile animal.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

February 2016: Photo of the Month

"Red Fox" by Steven Weekly

Despite the wet and cold weather over the last month, many of you still visited us with your cameras to take some lovely photographs of our animals. We had a good assortment of pictures shared over the internet, with no particular animal taking the monopoly of images... But it did seem to be the month of some good ol' tongue action.

Of the many of these, I picked out the photograph above sent in via email by Steven Weekly of "Ellis" our fox posing nicely on the fallen tree. The lovely colours and light really makes this photo stand out, and Ellis' pose could not of been better. Proudly standing on the log with the classic intent fox stare at something in the foreground. The timing was perfect to capture Ellis licking his lips with the full extent of his tongue, likely in anticipation for his next meal. Well done Steven. 

Steven's photo will be on display in our coffee shop gallery next year, alongside the other chosen photos of the month. At the end of this year one of the twelve images will be selected by a professional wildlife photographer to win a photographic day here at the Centre. 

Have a look below for a few other photos shared with us over February.

"Muntjac" by Maryimackins

We had so many of animal tongues, I had to share another with you. This great close up of a Muntjac washing herself taken by Maryimackins on flickr.

"Trio of Otters" by Jenny McCluskey

Some beautiful line-ups caught my eye too. This one above of our three otters in a row taken by Jenny McCluskey.

"Highland Cattle" by Bobsphotography

And Bobs took advantage of our reserve to capture our three highland steers in a row.

"Wildcat" by Andrea Taylor

Of course we had our usual display of animal protraits, and you know I love a good portrait! This one above of McTavish I thought was great. Capturing his profile well, and showing of the classic wildcat tail in the background. Taken by Andrea Taylor and shared with us via email.

"Making the Bed" by Christine Sweet

Last months winner, Christine Sweet, produced again with this beautiful photo of Elwood gathering some nesting material. Something you don't often see.

Look forward to looking at your photos over March... keep them coming!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Wildcats Together

Recently we opened up the doorway between our first two wildcat enclosures to allow Macavity, above, and Kendra, below, to share a double pen. For the past couple of weeks Kendra has been showing signs of interest in the two males, and Macavity has been calling to her.

We took a hiatus from breeding our wildcats for the past couple of years, but it seems once again wildcat conservation groups are keen to have kittens being born, and things to be on the up in terms of a potential release of wildcats in the future.

The last time Kendra had a litter, she produced three lovely kittens... all moved on to new homes. These were sired by McTavish. Macavity was the father of Iona's kittens a couple of years a go, but since he now lives next door to Kendra we thought to keep things easy we will just open the door between their pens.

Hopefully this will be the result! Some healthy kittens which will go on to help with the breeding and conservation program for Scottish wildcats.

It is still early days, but I imagine it won't be long until they mate... unless they have already of course... and then in a few months time I hope to be bringing you news of kittens here at the Centre.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Keep Britain Tidy

"Hedgehog in litter" by Chris Packham/Keep Britain Tidy

Chris Packham visited us a couple of times of the past few weeks to take a few photographs of our animals. He was asked by "Keep Britain Tidy" and the supermarket chain "Lidl" to take a series of photographs to show the effect that litter has on our wildlife.

This new initiative from Keep Britain Tidy is aimed at young people, and encouraging them to reduce litter and waste whilst improving local parks and green spaces. Funding is being helped by Lidl's donation of £500,000, raised from their single use carrier bag charge.

"Red Squirrel in litter" by Chris Packham/Keep Britain Tidy

At the launch of the campaign, Chris Packham said "I was delighted to be asked to explore this issue through the camera lens, juxtaposing the inherent beauty of our natural world with the ugliness of litter and rubbish carelessly discarded each and every day. Through these images I hope to inspire people to dispose of their litter more responsibly and play their part in caring for the fabulously diverse wildlife that enriches us all."

"Fox in litter" by Chris Packham/Keep Britain Tidy

"People who litter are unwittingly helping to kill and injure the wildlife we all love. As a naturalist, I'm only too aware of mankind's impact on the natural world and litter is one very visible example of this. Not only is it unsightly but it seriously affects wild animals both on land and in our oceans."

"Otter in litter" by Chris Packham/Keep Britain Tidy

And so through this campaign, and Chris Packham's photos, our animals have another taste of the limelight in papers and posters around the country. Some of you may have noticed the pile of discarded tyres in the otter ponds for the last few weeks while they were getting used to them, don't worry they were not a permanent fixture and have since been removed, but Elwood duly posed for one of the shots above.

Our other animal contributions included a red squirrel in among fast food packages, Flo the fox surrounded by bin bags and Hugo the hedgehog caught up in some beer can packaging (modified so as to casue him no distress). These four images went towards the ten photographs Chris Packham took for the campaign.

To see and read more about this initiative, click on the Keep Britain Tidy logo below to go to their website.