Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Red Squirrels to Mersea Island



Yesterday was an exciting day as we sent 12 red squirrels to Mersea Island in Essex for our next release programme. This is particularly exciting, as we are adding to squirrels which have already been re-located there from other squirrel groups including Pensthorpe, meaning that a few groups are working together for this release and for the good of the red squirrel!



Twelve travel boxes where awaiting me when I arrived in the morning, and so the job was on to get them safely boxed up and ready to go!



A couple of hours later and they were all ready to go, and where packed in to the car to be taken back and prepared for there release. They will be soft-released over the next few weeks to give them the best chance of establishing themselves.



The island are really excited to have them arriving, and many of the residents have been busy putting up feeders in their gardens... keen to help out with the project, and keen to see the squirrels themselves.

The local pet store has even been making a specialist squirrel mix to sell to the residents to feed the squirrels with. All this help can only be a good thing, and will really help the squirrels to settle and hopefully thrive.



I was also shown a red squirrel sign which is being put up around some of the roads on the island to make people aware of these animals now being residents.



Once these have settled in, we have a further 10 which will be making there way over in the new year to help boost numbers, I will keep you updated as we here about how they are getting on!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Autumn Half Term


Just a reminder to you all that we are open everyday next week for the Autumn half term. So that is everyday from now until the Sunday the 1st of November, after which we are then open every weekend as usual (and for the first time this winter).

This week is the last week of our summer season of keeper talks, and so your last chance to listen to and hear about pine martens, hedgehogs and badgers until the spring of next year. Our winter season of talks will begin the weekend of the 8th/9th of November.



Our "quiet" season, where we have less booked in, seems to be getting shorter every year. We are fully booked until the end of November for this year with bookings beginning in February of 2015! Good news of course, but only gives us two months to get our major jobs done. For the keepers this means hard work as usual, and we will be going around all the pens giving them the once over in terms of thinning out branches on trees and refreshing bark chip etc.

But for next week it is business as usual with the public being here, and the weather is looking good so hopefully we will get to see many of you here.

Monday, 20 October 2014

CPS+ Wildlife Experience


Today and for the next couple of days we will be hosting a Canon Professional Services (CPS+) experience day. What this means for the Centre is we will be welcoming around 60 photographers each day to listen to two of this countries best wildlife photographers, Danny Green and Mark Sisson, as well as offer them some opportunities to take some pictures of our animals with some Canon equipment.



From the photographic point of view, these guests will be split in to smaller groups to rotate around some of our mammals including our red squirrels, foxes, otters and wildcats. A second session for each group later in the day will focus on our owls, with a few portraits and a couple of them flying too.



It will be a busy few days, but nothing that we and the animals are not used to, and they all get a day off on Friday while we prepare for our Autumn half term opening next week.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Red Deer Rut


This weekend has seen our master stag Albus really begin to assert his authority! Although no clashing of antlers has taken place, he has been posturing, stamping feet, flehming, roaring and all the other behaviour associated with red deer at this time of year. 



Our port younger stags are constantly being pushed away from the rest of the herd, and have now formed their own little bachelor group.



The two young brockets certainly won't challenge, and even Olivander on the left is still a bit smaller than Albus so may not give it a go... however, I have seen him look at him few times so you never know. Once Albus has grown weary and tired, he may see it as an opportunity to try his luck. I don't think he will get far though.



Albus is busy not only with keeping the other males away, but also keeping all the females with him. He is doing a good job though and they all seem to follow him around.



I really wish you could post "smells/scents" on the internet, because our deer paddock is so strong at the moment... especially driving out there yesterday in to the thick of it to get a couple of pics. Albus really has gone above and beyond this year in making sure he smells right, and the paddock has his scent. It is like a deep musky smell, very strong odour, which you will almost certainly get a whiff of if you spend a few minutes down on our deer platform over the coming weeks.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

New Weasel


Last week we welcomed a new weasel to the Centre. Let me introduce you to "Dr Ray Deangelo Harris"... don't ask!

Dr Ray was hand reared up North, and came to us through the Mustelid Rescue Centre based in Manchester. Andrew Gray there is an expert in smaller mustelids, and a friend of the Centre. This little one was too tame to be released back in to the wild and so came here for a home where he could be used to educate the thousands of school children that visit every year, and hopefully be a stud to breed with our female "Houdini" next year.



You can see how friendly he is above! He has been moved in to our hedgerow pen where he gets to see all the tours that come to see us, and has a larger enclosed outside pen which the keepers can go in to with him to play with him and keep him friendly.



While he has been moved in there, Houdini has been moved up to the photographic weasel pen opposite the polecats. This is where she used to live, and so settled in very quickly, and was out posing for photographs over the weekend as she always used to.



If you are coming to see our weasels, Dr Ray is out and about quite a lot throughout the day and Houdini is much more of an afternoon girl.