Friday, 12 September 2014

Thinking of Rutting

It is nearing the time of year when our Red Deer start to think about rutting. If you had asked me a few weeks a go if there would be any clashing of antlers this year, I would have said no... Look at the photo above and you can see there is still quite a size difference between our master stag Albus and his challenger Olivander.

However, Olivander has been standing up a little to Albus recently, and so who knows. He may decide to give it a go, especially if he is as feisty as his dad Eric was, or he may wimp out when Albus really starts to get going.

Either way, Albus will certainly put on a good show himself, and will be flehming, chasing and roaring as much if not more so than previous years!

I will update when more action begins to occur, but they are beginning to think about it!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Spare a thought for our British badgers today...

Today the second phase of the four year badger cull starts, despite not only all the opposition and evidence against the cull. But also despite the independent monitoring of last years phase showing that it was ineffective and inhumane!

So what is different this year... well, this year they don't have the independent monitoring!.. I'll just let that sink in for a bit..

Yep, you read it right, last years independent monitoring reported that the cull was ineffective and inhumane. So the answer?... Continue this year anyway, but don't have the independent monitoring!

The cull is a hugely controversial topic, and I won't bang on about the reasons why I think it shouldn't go ahead/won't work... If you want to see that, go back through the archives to around about March last year I believe. But for those unsure on what has happened since the first trial, here is a brief outline.

Last year as part of the trial, nearly 1,000 badgers were culled in each of Gloucestershire and Somerset. Neither of these numbers reached the 70% target deemed necessary to help reduce TB in cattle herds in those areas.

The cost per badger culled was estimated at £4,000... that is per badger!

The independent monitoring reported that the cull would be ineffective in controlling TB in cattle, and that the cull was inhumane with many badgers suffering.

This year the cull will not have the independent monitoring, although it will be monitored by Natural England.

Last week the government announced plans to trial some vaccination of badgers in areas around the cull zones in an attempt to create buffer zones.

Now don't get me wrong. Britain has the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe, and it is a huge problem resulting in over 26,000 cattle being slaughtered last year resulting losses into the many millions of pounds! But surely it can be seen that culling badgers is not the answer. 

Arguments are there that New Zealand has greatly restricted bTB with culling, but they also have tighter movement and control regulations.

Ireland has reduced bTB with culling, but bTB has also reduced in Northern Ireland where currently no culling has taken place.

Wales has reduced cases of bTB by nearly 50% with tighter testing, and are trialling vaccination for badgers.

Previous trials in England showed that in most areas where badgers were culled, an increase in bTB was shown with the increase of infected badgers moving. In those areas where bTB was decreased, it was such a small percentage it was thought negligible.

Recent DEFRA reports show that tighter bio-security measures do reduce the risk of bTB spread in cattle.

And last years independent monitoring has reported that the cull is ineffective and inhumane!

But something does have to be done... An effective vaccine for cattle which is recognised by the EU is still believed to be about ten years away, and this is a the farmers livelihood at stake! Farmland is responsible for a vast amount of our countryside, and is vital habitat for many of our animals. People talking about boycotting farmers and their produce winds me up as much as the controversy over the badger cull. 

They do need our help, and something does have to be done, it is just that all scientific evidence leads to the badger cull being ineffective and yet the government choose to ignore this and continue to go ahead with it. 

Anyway, think of it what you will, but this is what our badgers think of the cull...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

BWPA 2014 Awards Ceremony

I have just got back from the awards ceremony for this years "British Wildlife Photography Awards", and am very pleased to say that I had one of my images, a tawny owl flying over some bluebells (above), commended and so appearing in the coffee table book now in its 5th collection.

Firstly thanks to all who came up to me and said hello while there, it seems the BWC is very well recognised now especially as a place for photographers to come and visit.

Secondly, if you are interested in photography and/or British wildlife, try and find time to get to the exhibition. It is currently in the Mall Galleries in London until this Saturday, the 6th of September, before touring around the country as usual... for dates of where and when it will be check out the BWPA website.

The exhibition is great, and seems to get better and better each year and with more amateurs making the grade which is fantastic. I can't think of any other competition which can show such quality and variety in our British animals, and really show our wonderful wildlife to its beautiful best! I will certainly be supporting this competition for as long as it runs.

As always, Chris Packham was on top form presenting the awards, and it was worth the trip just to hear his passion and enthusiasm for all British wildlife and photography.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Pip The Squirrel

This is "Pip the Squirrel" created by David Mills, owner of the British Wildlife Centre. So who better to introduce you to Pip than the man himself, let me hand you over to David...

"The reason I created the Centre initially was to show visitors some  of the wildlife which lives all around us, that is seldom seen and little is known about, with the hope that they might want to help save it for future generations - 'Conservation through Education"

In order to appeal to very young children and inspire them to 'Connect with Nature', we have taken that concept a stage further. I have now created and developed with the help of a small dedicated team of professional wildlife film makers a cartoon red squirrel character - 'Pip the Squirrel' - who interacts with the animals living at the Centre.

We are hoping to produce a whole series of DVDs featuring Pip and our animals all filmed here at the Centre. The first DVD is now available (see Pips website - and the second one is in production and will be out in the spring.

I know that we have entered a very crowded market place for this age group of children, but I am confident we have something which is both appealing and educational to young people and their parents alike!" - David Mills, BWC Owner and Creator of Pip the Squirrel

Watch the trailer above for an idea of what Pip is all about, and then have a peek at the video below for more of a teaser... the clip below features one of our keepers Izzy... Hello Izzy!

To see more clips of Pip, and the animals from around the Centre, head over to Pip the Squirrels youtube channel... he even has a Facebook page to keep up with and of course his website to learn more about the series, how it was created and to order a copy of series one. 

Thanks to David for his guest post today, and enjoy watching the clips... Toodlepip!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Photography Day, Wed 24th September

Due to a very late cancellation from a photography workshop provider, we had a free day in the diary for September. All our current photo days in that month have been fully booked for a while, and so we have made this free day in to another BWC Photographic Day.

For more details on our photo days have a look on the main website, and if you are interested then email or phone the main office to book a place.

After the post earlier this week reminding you all of our photo competition, and a few links to our other BWC groups on the internet, I have been asked a few times at work about how the blog is doing.

I must confess I forget, but apparently I have on occasion updated everyone on how this blog is growing and it seems a lot of you are keen to know and follow that side of things too.

I have checked the most recent stats this morning, and can say we have now risen to  just below 200 independent hits a day on average for the BWC Blog, with this increasing more on the days we actually put up a post... Wow! It is amazing to think how much it has grown since its very humble beginnings, and I thank you all for the support.

With this success, it does mean that I often get asked by the office to post things up here, such as the blatant photo day plug above and competition reminder earlier this week. But I am wary to keep the blog true to why I originally started it... animal news and related around the BWC.

With that in mind, and with the animal front being a little quiet at the moment, there will be a post early next week to help promote a new project owner, David Mills, is currently working on. It does involve our animals, and it is geared towards education as always... that is all I will say for now and more will be revealed next week!

This will then follow with updates on our youngsters, new arrivals and some exciting news on the red squirrel front.