Friday, 27 May 2016

Wildcat Kittens

OK, we've been keeping this one a bit quiet, but we currently have some wildcat kittens! After a hiatus for a couple of years, we put Macavity in with Kendra earlier this year to try and breed them again. After mating, we separated them up and then fingers crossed. 

I had a little look in Kendra's den a couple of weeks ago, while she was otherwise occupied feeding, and saw she had three little ones... eyes still closed. They looked healthy, and she is an experienced mum, so things looked good. I made a note in my diary that they should be seen out of the den for the first time around about this weekend, and if not to have another little check on them early next week. Yet low and behold, they decided to make an appearance for the first time yesterday afternoon. 

We had a school in, one of the classes very lucky to see these kittens out just at the entrance to their den. They didn't stay out long however, but did make another appearance later in the evening for our photographic workshop... unfortunately not while they were in their, but I think a couple still went home with some kitten pics.

So this afternoon I spent some time with them to see if they would make another show. Nothing all day, but then late afternoon I saw mum and one of the kittens out at the back of the enclosure.

Waiting for a few moments, another appeared under the watchful eye of Kendra. They are very wobbly on their feet, but appear to be in good health. I took the chance to sneak in to the pen to get a little closer, but stayed at the front so as not to upset them.

A few more minutes later and all three came out, I didn't get any photos I'm afraid as I was too busy just watching them. By the time I picked up my camera one had gone back to bed, but the other two stayed out for another minute or so until joining him.

Not the best pictures to show you, but once they have settled a bit more in the big wide world I will get closer to them and hopefully get something better to share with you.

Best thing about these little ones... their beautiful cobalt blue eyes! Stunning, you can just about see them in the top photo.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

New Arrivals

We have welcomed a couple of new arrivals over the past couple of weeks. Just over a week a go a new female roe deer came from Wiltshire Wildlife Rescue. They had rescued this doe as a young fawn, but unfortunately she was too tame to release back in to the wild. We offered her a home here to join up with ours. We have named her "Willow" after the old doe we used to have, and she is a real stunner!

It took her a few days to settle, but she is now at home with the others. She is less shy too, so it should be easier for you all to spot one of our roe deer now. Please do spend the time to try and see her next time you are here. Roe deer are beautiful animals, shy, elusive, solitary and almost magical when you are privileged to see a glimpse in to their world.

We have a pair of roe deer on our reserve, occasionally seen out during the day, and often seen by myself and Bess in the early morning. So keep your eyes open when down on our boardwalk for these too, as well as the abundance of birdlife.

Another rescue, this time from Folly Rescue Centre. This albino grey squirrel is called "Polly" and was hand reared by one of their volunteers after being abandoned in a cardboard box. Needing a safe place to call home, we welcomed her to the Centre to live alongside our other grey squirrels... including our other albino, Eddie.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Dancing Adders

Our "dancing" adders have been a little lack-luster this year. The first weekend after I mentioned it to you all they put on a great show, but since then very little has been seen. Possibly the weather has slowed them down, but the males are definitely showing less interest in each other.

That first weekend was really good though, both Saturday and Sunday morning they were on top form and I have seen many photos pop up around the internet.

Photos are great, especially of rare behaviour such as this, but to really convey the beauty and motion you need to see it in action. So check out this amazing video that was sent to me of our adders dancing that weekend!

This video was taken by Bobs, a regular visitor to the Centre. She took some other clips too which you can see if you follow the link in her name to her youtube page.

Thanks for sharing Bobs... I think we may have seen the last of it for this year, but if they do show a reprise then I will of course let you all know.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Heron Chicks

"Heron" by Etienne Fournier

The herons on our reserve have had chicks for a few weeks now. I have been keeping an eye open to try and get some picture for you, but with very little success, so when I saw these beautiful photographs taken by Etienne Fournier on our flickr page I just had to share them with you!

"Heron with chicks" by Etienne Fournier

Etienne Fournier managed to capture a series of stunning pictures of one of the adults returning to her nest, and feeding the youngsters. I am sharing a couple of them here, but please do take the time to visit their flickr page linked in the name. You will be rewarded with about a dozen photos of this interaction, including the mother bringing the fish head back up, catching it, and then feeding it to one of the chicks.

"Heron feeding chicks" by Etienne Fournier

Really great photos, and showing our nature reserve herons are still going strong. Etienne Fournier even managed to get a few pictures of a rare visitor to the Centre... a red kite! Red kites are not often seen here, but are slowly getting more frequent each year. A few more years time and it will be nice to hopefully see them most days as we do our local wild buzzards.

"Red Kite" by Etienne Fournier

The wildlife on our reserve keeps going from strength to strength, and with the recent expansion even more sightings are being seen. Fingers crossed our wildflower meadow will be a success and add another habitat to attract even more wildlife to our grounds.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Long Eared Owl Chick

Let me introduce you to "Leo", our new long eared owl. He was hatched out here at the Centre by our pair of long eared owls a few weeks a go.

L-e-o is a long-eared-owl, and is the first we have bred at the Centre. He will be reared so that he will get used to visitors, photographers and the like and be able to be used as an inspirational, educational owl... no pressure Leo!

Will he join our flying team? Time will tell... we don't just allow any ol' owl to join. You won't see any of ours just sit there ignoring us when we call, flying in to the aviary instead of into the arena, flying in the wrong direction or deciding to walk around instead of fly!... So if he can pass our strict flying standards then maybe :-)

So who has the task of rearing this little guy?.. Meg has stepped in to the role of mother. Keep an eye open when here at the weekend. If Meg is on duty, you may well see her wandering around with Leo in her arms.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Dancing Adders

Umm... The adders are dancing!... Look forward to seeing many of you here this weekend :-)

A bit more write? oh, OK...

Photography day here at the Centre, and how lucky are they to have witnessed this! I got a call about an hour ago to say the adders were dancing, so rushed over to have a look. It only lasted a few minutes, but long enough to get some record shots to share with you, and long enough to show that it is the start of this behaviour for this year. I then rushed back home to quickly upload these images before the weekend.

Two males going at it for a while, but I did not see a female at all. They were probably hiding away having been fed yesterday.

They were not fully at it, a little slow to be honest, but it is the first bout that we know of this year so today they have peaked, and now they are on their way up, hey Meg :-)

During a break, this one decided to have a bit of a practice... eh, well not really. He probably just caught scent of something on the leaves above.

Then realising I caught him out, came over to say hello. After last years experience, they are much bolder around me, and he decided to check out my camera again. Gold star to the first person to photograph them crawling over my camera, bit difficult for me to get that shot.

Finally... Apologies to Helen Haden. She was chosen as our April's photograph of the month, but I only put it up yesterday and have now already updated the blog with the adders. I normally leave the photo of the month up for a few days for people to see and enjoy, but I hope she, and you all, appreciate I had to mention the dancing adders as so many people are waiting for it... And we are open this weekend, perfect timing!

With that in mind, have another look at that great photo by Helen below, and click on it to go to the last blog post sharing a couple of other photos taken at the Centre last month.

"Little Owl" by Helen Haden

Beautiful isn't it? Well done Helen.

See some of you here over the weekend, and if I get any more dancing adder pics I will share them with you over the coming week.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

April 2016: Photo of the Month

"Little Owl" by Helen Haden

It seems the nicer weather we are finally getting is bringing many of you photographers back out. The number of photographs we have seen shared this past month seem to have increased, or maybe we are just noticing more, who knows. Out of all these though we have seen many that were taken in among our bluebells. All beautiful photographs, difficult to pick just one out, but I went for this one above by Helen Haden. 

This photograph of Tyrion our little owl, taken by Helen Haden, really stood out of the many I looked at. It is a picture perfect portrait. Beautiful composition, stunning detail, and really showing off his personality to a tee... even in among the bluebells he keeps his grumpy expression that these owls are known for! Talking of the bluebells, what a lovely splash of colour they add to this picture. The way Helen has taken it allows the blue to add to the image, without detracting from the owl, but making clear what season we are in. Brilliant!

"Marsh Frog" by Rebecca South

Another photo that really caught my eye, and I particularly like, is this one above by Rebecca. Often forgotten about while trying to photograph our water voles, our frogs make excellent subjects especially with their beautiful eyes! The heavy reflection of light on the water adds a mystical feel to it really letting the frog stand out. 

"Otter" by Stuart Scott

A lot more of you are now beginning to email in your photos, and it is always nice to see the pictures you have taken here either on an open day... or on one of our dedicated photographic days, such as this otter taken by Stuart. You can still see all the water droplets on the otters whiskers, and the slicked fur having just come out of the water.

"Polecat" by Bob Howell

Bob managed to get a lovely shot of one of our polecats up the tree! Not renowned for their climbing ability, ours... and in particular our female Oriel, does seem to enjoy an arboreal adventure from time to time

"Roe Deer" by Susan Addicott

What was really nice to see this past month was a few pictures of one of our roe deer, Chestnut. It is always good to see photographs of the lesser photographed animals at the Centre.

Look forward to seeing more of you pictures over the coming month.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Competition Winner

Do you remember our last BWC Photographic Competition winner?.. Zena Saunders. Well, recently she took up her prize of an exclusive photographic day here at the Centre. We made the most of the season, and spent a lot of time in among the bluebells, getting some lovely shots of the owls. We even flew the tawny owl over the bluebells for her, and she came away with this stunning shot above. 

After some time with the owls and bluebells we headed back to the Centre for some mammal work. Running otters and pine martens were on the agenda, and of course we had to pay a visit to the lovely Flo before the evening ended. Zena went away with some beautiful photographs, here are just a couple to share with you. 

Aprils photo of the month will be up at the end of the week, and then we have some really exciting animal news to follow next week!