Thursday, 24 January 2019

Photo of the Year: 2018

"Weasel" by Dave Burden

I've seen some lovely photos taken here over the first few cold weeks of 2019, but before we share any of those, here is the photo of the year for 2018 chosen by our professional judge Sean Weekly. I'll hand over to him to explain his choice...

"Thanks so much for asking me to be this years Judge for the British Wildlife Centre annual Photography competition. It is most certainly a privilege to have been asked. Before my wildlife photography took off into a professional career, I first started my photography with many many visits to the BWC enjoying the endless amounts of wildlife, friendly staff and photography opportunities. It became near on weekly visits for me and without a doubt taught me so much about our native wildlife. 

Not only did it teach me about these animals, but the Centre certainly helped shape my photography into what it is today. Practicing for hours in getting photos of the fast moving stoats, patiently waiting for the appearance of the rather timid water voles and honing my compositional skills whist photographing the red foxes. Life changes has resulted me moving to mid Wales, so unfortunately I have not visited for a while now but the BWC will always have a special place in my heart. 

Enough rambling from me, let’s get to the judging of the competition! Matt sent me the final 12 photos of the month, and I must admit they are all lovely photos, it always makes judging difficult when there are some great photos. However there can only be one winner. My choice for the photo of the year is the weasel! 

This particular image stood out for me, one reason why is that I know myself that weasels are extremely challenging subjects to photograph, they move so quickly testing any cameras autofocus system and a photographers skill level to the limits. The fast subject therefore makes composition a really tough factor!  As you literally have seconds to lock focus and compose your image before the weasel moves out of frame. 

The second thing about this image that stood out for me was the composition itself. The photographer had obviously thought about his composition for a while and carefully placed the focus points to the top right of the image to ensure there was going to be some nice open space to the left of the subject. This composition works so well for an image like this, where the subject itself is looking into space, giving the subject room to move in the photo. Compositions like this are great in wildlife photography and certainly makes photos stand out from the crowd when they are composed as nicely as this. 

The last thing for me about this image is the nice shallow depth of field that the photographer has used. The aperture is enough to have a nice sharp subject and log whilst retaining a nice clean and out of focus background. 

Thanks again for asking me to judge this competition and I hopefully will visit the Centre soon and catch up with some old and new faces." - Sean Weekly

So, many congratulations to Dave for his photo of Molly the weasel! Dave will win a photographic day voucher here at the Centre to be used on one of our mammal or owl days later this year. To see more of Dave's photos, have a look at the link in his name under the photo above.

Once again many thanks to Sean for being our professional judge this year. To see some of his absolutely stunning images of wildlife, have a look at the link below.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Otter Cub Update

Our two otter cubs are growing and progressing well, and beginning to make more regular appearances. They have been a little shyer than last years cubs, but do tend to venture out most days... so if patient enough, you should be able to see them. Another week or so and hopefully they will be a bit more predictable and start venturing out more regularly for the keeper talks with mum and dad.

Here is mum and dad, Emmy and Elwood. Unfortunately up to a couple of days ago I had not been able to get any photos of this year's litter growing. When the two little ones were out, my camera was at home. When I had my camera here, the cubs were not to be seen... or not till it was dark anyway. Luckily though a couple of evenings a go, they ventured out just as the sun had gone down but before it was too dark.

Here is Emmy with one of the cubs on one of the islands. We managed to have a good clear out of the ponds this winter, still a little more to do, but we have thinned out the foliage on the islands to make it a little clearer for people to see them when they lay up there.

If you remember, the cubs are one male and one female. The little female we have named "Bea" short for Beatrix (pOtter). We will most likely keep her here at the Centre. Her brother will end up moving on to another Centre after the summer, we have named him "Otto" short for, wait for it... Ottermus Prime! And yes, we do know how awesome that name is!

This is Elwood with one of the cubs. Shortly after the two cubs dived in to the water, so I snuck around to the back of the enclosure to wait and see if they would go back to dad. After a few minutes, sure enough they did, and spent a little time with Elwood climbing over him and each other.

And to end, a little family portrait.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Photo of the Month: December 2018

"Red Squirrel" by Duncan Penfold

Let's round up last year's photos of the month by sharing December's image with you. Our quietest month saw lot's of red squirrel and otter photographs shared. Unsurprisingly with our otters, and our lovely two little cubs we have, but a little more surprising with our squirrels while they are currently temporarily shut in their holding pens. This didn't stop many of you though, and December's chosen photo is this one above by Duncan Penfold of a red squirrel sat beautifully in the light on top of his nest box.

Duncan's photo will be on display in our coffee shop gallery this year, and he will be in with a chance to win our photographic day here at the Centre if chosen by our professional judge.

With this in mind, this year I am pleased to say the judge will be Sean Weekly. Sean is a professional wildlife and wedding photographer, a close friend of the Centre and an all round great bloke! With wildlife in mind Sean is one of the guides for Nature Lens photography workshops. His photos truly are stunning and inspirational. Have a look at this link to see some of his wildlife work.

To see a few more of our visitors photos from last month, have a look below.

"Red Squirrel" by Keith Duke

"Otter family" by Paul Stuart

"Otter cub with mum" by Claire Hilton

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2019 to you all!

Lots of plans for the coming year which we will tell you about as and when they happen, but for now a little update. The badgers have settled down well, and Stanley, above, seems to have taken on the head of the clan. It won't be until the weather warms up and the evenings become lighter that they will be out regularly to feed during the afternoon, but you can see them all in their observation sett if you do decide to visit the Centre.

This is a photo of susie from last year, and once again this year she is beginning to turn white. Time will tell how white she will go but at the moment it is just very slight changes around the hind quarters. Keep an eye out for her if you do visit though, white or brown she is a real beauty!

And our otter cubs are beginning to be seen out now. Usually they make at least one appearance a day while we are open, but still not predicable as to when that will be. Another week or two and I imagine they will be following mum and dad out for the talks. 

To start off the new year we will bring the last photo of the month later this week, and then look at announcing the overall winner for last year as well as an otter cub update. Don't forget, we are still open today and tomorrow (Wednesday the 2nd) but then it will be back to weekends until next half term.