Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Polecat Kitts

Both our breeding pairs of polecats have given birth, and the kits are at that age where they are beginning to come our and explore... although very slowly.

Cassie is currently off display with 5 little ones to look after. Oriel, above, is on display in our main polecat enclosure looking after 4 kits.

The kits have so make the occasional appearance, but are still a little shy like this one hiding behind the grass.

You can see they are catching up to mum in size very quickly, and this little lad quickly dragged her back in to their den rather than have to come out in to the open even more.

Best time to see them will be around their feed times... currently first thing in the morning, and just after the badger talk in the afternoon.

And for you members out there, don't forget our annual Members Evening this Saturday the 1st of July, 5pm- 8pm.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

More Long-eared Owl Chicks

Well, they've done it again. Another year, another second clutch of long-eared owl chicks from our pair Quill and Embry. This time they had two eggs hatch from two laid, another success.

They have been named Barney and Betty... um, yep... you read that right.

These little ones are currently being reared by our own Little Tom, and what better hands could they be in with Tom having reared their older brother Percy last year,  who now performs so well in our flying team.

Already with homes lined up, they won't be with us too long, but no doubt Tom will show them off when he is in.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Red Deer Calves

Over the last couple of weeks, our red deer hinds have been giving birth. We currently have 5 calves out there, and one or two more hinds possibly about to give birth. Red deer calves are remarkable, usually on their feet within twenty minutes of being born. Very wobbly, but still up and moving. They spend a lot of time laid up in the grass however... Usually the mothers will leave them hidden away in the grasses while they head off and feed with the rest of the group, returning periodically throughout the day to feed the calf.

You may think that leaving them in the grass in not that good of a camouflage technique, but take a look at the photo above... can you see the calf?

OK, a little easier for you... how about above in the nettles?..

Did you find her in the bottom left corner? Great, what about the other one though, there are actually two calves in this photo!

So, out of the 5 we currently have, 4 keep getting tucked away in the grass, and the older one has begun to follow the herd a bit more frequently. I couldn't get close enough to take photo for you without disturbing the group, so here is one from last years youngsters with one of the hinds. Another month or two and our calves this year will look like this.

If you want to try and see our red deer calves, you will need patience. One or two maybe be with the group at the back of the paddock, but will unlikely come over for the Keeper Talk. The others you will need eagle eyes, or maybe even binoculars, to try and pick them out where they are laid up in the grass. A top tip!.. not always, but usually they are tucked up near a patch of nettles. Good luck!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Little Owl Chicks

Our breeding pair of little owls, Robin and Nancy, have been extremely successful... 5 eggs were laid earlier this year, and all hatched! Nancy did a great job in rearing them, but we took them away at 2 weeks old so that we could rear and imprint them to become great educational owls.

We have homes lined up for them all, some already moved on and the others to go shortly, but we have decided to keep one... little "Dave"

Dave will be reared to be used alongside Tyrion as one of our meet and greet little owls, photographic superstars and maybe even join our flying team!

They are currently being looked after Izzy, so if you happen to visit on a day Izzy is working, you may be lucky enough to see them.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Photo of the Month: May 2017

"Running Otter" by Nicola Adzic

It was an absolute joy looking through the many photographs that have been shared over the last month... We normally see a lot, but May seemed to be even more popular with the photographers out there. Lots of really amazing photographs too, we could of easily shared many more than we have.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main attraction seemed to be our three wildcat kittens. Lots of photos of these beautiful kittens all over the internet already. Surprisingly, our hedgehogs cropped up a lot more than usual. Great to see, and hopefully many more with the photography days coming up over the next couple of months.

But in the end, we went for this lovely photo of "Emmy" the otter running, taken by Nicola Adzic (Nik nik9 on Flickr). It is almost as if the otter is leaping out of the photo and some great spume, you feel as if you are going to get wet looking at it.

Well done Nicola, your photo will be in our gallery next year, and you will be in with a chance of winning a photographic day here at the Centre.

"Tawny Owl" by Brett Watson

Here are some other photos that caught our eyes, including this beautiful portrait of Aluco. As always you can see more of the photographers pictures by clicking on the link in their individual names. 

A shy hedgehog during one of our photo days. 

All three kittens in one shot, playing out on the grass.

"Wildcat" by Emily Leonard

And nice to see some didn't ignore mum and dad in favour of the kittens. Macavity in the dandelion seed heads.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Lucy Leaving

It is time to say goodbye to one of our keepers, Lucy. Lucy has been with us for around 4 years, during which she has been a valuable member of our team, helping with the education and conservation work we do.

Over these years Lucy would of helped educate 1000's of school children about our British wildlife, and helped care for and form bonds with many of our animals... none more so than Tyrion, one of our little owls, who Lucy reared from a very young age.

Lucy has always shown a particular keen interest in the more direct conservation work we do, and it is this which she sees herself doing more of going in to the future. Therefore she has decided to leave the Wildlife Centre, allowing her to have the time to return to part-time study and work/volunteer part-time with local conservation and ecological groups.

We all wish Lucy all the very best for the future, and hope she will keep in touch to let us know how she is doing, and come back to visit us and all of the animals.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Wildlife Garden

Those of you who have visited us recently may have noticed a bit of a tidy up as you come in. Just past the main gate, and opposite our picnic area, we had an old area with a few bird feeders hung from the trees... Well, over the last few weeks, we decided to tidy this little corner up and turn it in to an area to show you all some ideas for what you could do in your gardens at home to help wildlife.

Lots of different ideas are shown, some big some small, all that could be done to some scale in most gardens, and a lot which can be made up with old bits lying around. We have bird boxes and feeders, plenty of insect bits and pieces, reptile and amphibian homes, things to help your local hedgehogs... all sorts, and as an evolving project new things can be added as time goes by.

The centre piece has to be our majestic bug hotel, a modest size easily replicated on a larger or smaller scale. This provides a habitat for many a minibeast, and thus deserves a fitting name. We have called ours "Bugwarts" (thanks Leonie :-) )

The wildlife garden ideas really tidy up an unused area, and will look particularly good when the wildflowers begin to flower. Following on from this we have started to make use of other unused areas, all to show what can be done to help wildlife or just as a chance to observe nature.

Our wetlands reserve is home to many a species, including many reptiles and amphibians. It is also a relocation site for reptiles, and has had many a slowworm released over the years. Dotted around the reserve are some old hiberneculums, places for reptiles to hibernate and/or live.

Walking down our boardwalk, you will see a new bit of landscaping on the right hand side. This is a newer hiberneculum to show you what they can look like and what they are used for. They can be created on a smaller scale than ours, or even on a much larger scale to encompass large areas.

Little Tom has been hard at work, and between school groups and photographers, managed to create a great example for us to show you. Making use of the whole bank, a log pile, rockery, and two types of corrugated roofing all provide excellent hiding spots of reptiles.

Our reserve has seen many a slowworm and grass snake, and so it will be interesting to see if any decide to make use of their new habitats.

Ah, look at him... very pleased with his hard work!

Another little space used... the blank wall in the entrance to our badger sett now houses a wormery. Lots of trails can already be seen, and once we finish it it will make viewing of the worms themselves possible.

Lots of other ideas on the way to make use of the little corners around the Centre, so keep your eyes open for new things each time you pay us a visit.