Friday, 29 December 2017

Year End

The year is drawing to a close and I hope you all had or are having a fun and enjoyable festive season.

The winter is always a time for us to get on top of some of the "unseen" jobs that need to be done, and make plans for the following year. So what is in store for 2018?

Some of you may have already noticed that our social media presence is growing, more about this below, but from the Centre and animal side of things we have a few ideas we are developing.

New expansions to our pine marten enclosures have seen a new pen been built, and the runways extended. Hopefully soon in to the new year our female, Daenerys, will be on display in the new enclosure where she will be able to talk to our others through the wire in preparation for breeding next summer.

New arrivals are on the cards, both feathered and furry and maybe even some scaly.

Developments are underway for a new section in our red squirrel walk through enclosure, something our owner David Mills is very excited about. More news on this when it nears completion, hopefully in time for Easter.

On top of all this, our maintenance team will be kept busy with some of these new projects, and keeping on top of the odd jobs around the Centre. Our coffee shop will be offering a new menu with a re-organised kitchen, and the office staff will be pushing our social media presence...

With this in mind, a reminder to you all that you can follow us on facebook and twitter... linked in the side bar to the right, and the office have now set up an instagram account for the Centre. To see us there, look for @britishwildlifecentre

This blog will have a slight revamp in the new year, nothing major... and many may not even notice, but I will still be bringing you all the big animal news from around the Centre here so do keep in touch with the Keepers Blog to keep up with how all the animals are doing at the Centre.

So, all the best to you all for the new year, thank you for your continued support of the Centre and the work we do for British wildlife conservation, and we all look forward to seeing many of you here during 2018!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all, and a very happy new year to come. Don't forget that we are open to the public from next Wednesday, the 27th, though till Wednesday the 3rd of January. So if you need an excuse to escape the family, want somewhere to go to walk of the Christmas dinner or just fancy catching up with how the animals are then please do come along to see us.

What can be seen?.. Well hopefully our otter cubs will begin to be seen out a little more often. Next week will mark them being two months old, which is usually when we see them wander out on their own a few times.

Photo by Gary K Mann

Some very lucky people got to see one of our cubs last weekend though, when one ventured out of his holt. One of our members, Gary, managed to take these great photos... and more can be seen on his flickr page if you follow the link in his name above.

Photo by Gary K Mann

This little one as out a week or so earlier than we would of expected, and has not been seen out since so probably just lost his way on this occasion (don't worry, we have checked since to make sure he is still alright).

Photo by Gary K Mann

You can see how small he is next to my boots. He came out right on time for the keeper talk, pure coincidence. Mum, Emmy, is a great mum and knows what she is doing... but was ignoring him on this occasion. Maybe because there were lots of people around watching, maybe because there was food around, or maybe he had been wandering off all night and she was fed up.

Photo by Gary K Mann

Whatever the reason, I decided to put him back to bed myself. Usually I would of left him for Emmy to collect in her own time, but he was out early, making a right racket and beginning to cause some worry among those watching the talk.

In the afternoon he popped out again, this time mum was very quick at grabbing him and taking him back herself! She has since been giving them swimming lessons this week, and they were seen being moved from one holt to the other this afternoon.

Fingers crossed for lots more sightings next week, as they begin to explore and gain confidence.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Mice, Voles and Ermine

The "quieter" weeks allow us to spend some time sorting a few things out around the Centre, ready for the new year. A lot of enclosure clearing and maintenance, which helps keep us all warm in this cold weather.

Last week we avoided the snow many of you had, but we did get a lot of cold, cold rain... so we averted our attention to the under cover section and went in to our hedgerow. There is not too much we can do we the lack of greenery around, but we were able to rejuvenate our mice and vole enclosures with some fresh stock which we have had housed off display!

Bank voles at the top, and yellow neck mice above. These, as well as others, can now be seen more readily through our hedgerow section. They do use the run system, but in the colder weather will spend more time in the display cubes. Best time to see them is in the morning shortly after they have been fed... and nearer the end of the day when it is a little quieter.

What else can be seen these last few days before Christmas?.. Well, two of our new keepers Clare and Millie saw one of our otter cubs out the other day! But this is by no means a regular thing, and I would say is still a little early for it ti become more routine.

However, one of our stoats is beginning to turn ermine. If you remember, Susie went white last winter during the colder spell earlier this year. This winter, she has started to turn earlier, and still as beautiful as ever. Best chance to see her is at the end of the day around feeding time... shortly after the owl display at 3pm.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Photo of the Month: November 2017

"Heron with Dragonfly" by Celia Mulhearn

As the temperature drops, only one thing jumps to a photographers mind this time of year... SNOW! Will it snow at the Wildlife Centre this winter? And if it does, can it snow enough to make a lovely back drop for some snowy images of our animals, but not too much that you can't get here to take those photos!

Whether we have snow or not, almost certainly we will have frozen otter ponds at some point over the next couple of months. Another great photo opportunity with our otters, who love to play above through and under the ice. Who knows, we may even see the cubs on ice this winter too. 

Anyway, on to last month and photo of the month. Some good ones to look through, and we chose this unusal one above of one of our wild herons on the reserve with a dragonfly in it's mouth. Taken by Celia Mulhearn, who also took another one of the photos below of a yellow neck mouse... two animals not often photographed here. 

As always see below for some more images shared through November, and click on the names to see more photographs taken by the photographers. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Otter Cubs

Look at what we found in the otter enclosure earlier this week... Baby otters!

We have been keeping this one a little quiet, but Emmy and Elwood had a litter of cubs at the end of October half term. A few weeks before we noticed Emmy getting a little "rounder", and she was beginning to act a little different too... pushing away Elwood and her older cubs a lot more.

We moved the older cubs off display to give Emmy more space, and sure enough a week later she gave birth to two little cubs. Otters do not have a set season, and can give birth any time of year, but Emmy has always had her litters at the end of Autumn... and what a pro... the cubs begin to emerge at around two months, which coincides with our open week after Christmas!

This week they were 4/5 weeks old, so it was time to give them a quick health check. Our zoo vet, Alan, came in to help and microchipped them and sexed them at the same time. I am pleased to say they are both plump and healthy, and we have one little boy and one little girl!

They are still very young, and so Emmy will be keeping them well hidden in the holt. She will occasionally move them from one holt to another, but they will not begin their swimming lessons until they are a couple of months old.

Just a reminder that they will not be on view until they are around 2 months old. This is when Emmy will begin to teach them how to swim, and Elwood will begin to play with them. I imagine this will be around the Christmas open week... but of course will update you on here when they do start coming out a bit more regularly for you to see.