Thursday, 5 May 2016

April 2016: Photo of the Month

"Little Owl" by Helen Haden

It seems the nicer weather we are finally getting is bringing many of you photographers back out. The number of photographs we have seen shared this past month seem to have increased, or maybe we are just noticing more, who knows. Out of all these though we have seen many that were taken in among our bluebells. All beautiful photographs, difficult to pick just one out, but I went for this one above by Helen Haden. 

This photograph of Tyrion our little owl, taken by Helen Haden, really stood out of the many I looked at. It is a picture perfect portrait. Beautiful composition, stunning detail, and really showing off his personality to a tee... even in among the bluebells he keeps his grumpy expression that these owls are known for! Talking of the bluebells, what a lovely splash of colour they add to this picture. The way Helen has taken it allows the blue to add to the image, without detracting from the owl, but making clear what season we are in. Brilliant!

"Marsh Frog" by Rebecca South

Another photo that really caught my eye, and I particularly like, is this one above by Rebecca. Often forgotten about while trying to photograph our water voles, our frogs make excellent subjects especially with their beautiful eyes! The heavy reflection of light on the water adds a mystical feel to it really letting the frog stand out. 

"Otter" by Stuart Scott

A lot more of you are now beginning to email in your photos, and it is always nice to see the pictures you have taken here either on an open day... or on one of our dedicated photographic days, such as this otter taken by Stuart. You can still see all the water droplets on the otters whiskers, and the slicked fur having just come out of the water.

"Polecat" by Bob Howell

Bob managed to get a lovely shot of one of our polecats up the tree! Not renowned for their climbing ability, ours... and in particular our female Oriel, does seem to enjoy an arboreal adventure from time to time

"Roe Deer" by Susan Addicott

What was really nice to see this past month was a few pictures of one of our roe deer, Chestnut. It is always good to see photographs of the lesser photographed animals at the Centre.

Look forward to seeing more of you pictures over the coming month.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Competition Winner

Do you remember our last BWC Photographic Competition winner?.. Zena Saunders. Well, recently she took up her prize of an exclusive photographic day here at the Centre. We made the most of the season, and spent a lot of time in among the bluebells, getting some lovely shots of the owls. We even flew the tawny owl over the bluebells for her, and she came away with this stunning shot above. 

After some time with the owls and bluebells we headed back to the Centre for some mammal work. Running otters and pine martens were on the agenda, and of course we had to pay a visit to the lovely Flo before the evening ended. Zena went away with some beautiful photographs, here are just a couple to share with you. 

Aprils photo of the month will be up at the end of the week, and then we have some really exciting animal news to follow next week!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Dormouse Breeding Group

Our last post we talked about our first harvest mice reintroduction for the 2016 season. Well now I would like to bring you news of our common dormice breeding programme.

The BWC is part of the Common Dormice Captive Breeding Group (CDCBG). This group is responsible for the breeding of dormice for eventual release back out in to the wild. A couple of weeks a go we had our annual meet, where all things dormice were discussed, and any youngsters from last year were collected to be prepared for there release later this year.

After a short spell in quarantine, these little ones... along with many others bred across the group, will make their way to the wild.

You can see our breeding dormice pens opposite our snake enclosures, along with lots of information about these amazing little mammals. But are unlikely to see the dormice themselves... they are extremely nocturnal. You can however see our educational dormice in our nocturnal house! In here we have reversed the day and night around, so that they are active during our day.

I am pleased to say ours are now out of hibernation, and have been spotted regularly out eating over the last couple of weekends!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Harvest Mouse Release

Our first harvest mice release of 2016 went ahead a couple of weeks a go. The milder winter allowed our mice to continue to breed late in to the season last year, and only have a short break before starting again this spring. This  meant we had a lot of mice waiting to be released... but despite the mild weather, other conditions have not been favourable until recently.

Most of you will already be aware of us release mice on to our reserve, and although rarely seen by visitors around the surrounding areas of the boardwalk, I do often see signs, movements or even the mice themselves when walking Bess out there everyday.

In past years we concentrated on these areas around the walkway, and surrounding places that offer good a habitat for these mice. This year we have decided to release the mice a little further down in to our reserve, now that these new areas have had a chance to mature and develop.

Hopefully the mice will settle well there too, and encourage a bit more natural dispersion and spreading of the mice on there own. Ideally the two areas will eventually natural link, and then with further help from our releases, we can get these mesmerising miniature mice to spread in to all suitable areas of our nature reserve.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Albus' Absent Antlers

Oh deer!.. Get it?.. Like oh dear, but deer because it's a deer?.. er, never mind. 

Albus Dumbledeer (yes that is his name, and yes another bad pun, but hey... I'm a Harry Potter fan!) cast his antlers on Monday morning. This happens every year at about this time, and not always together, but this time his dropped within hours of each other. He is still recognisable from the others in the herd though by being the obvious largest deer.

Here they are... all cleaned up and ready for use. We often get asked what we use the antlers for, and it really is a mix of things. The nicer ones are used for display purposes and education reasons, showing school groups that visit etc. The smaller or not so nice ones are cut up and/or put in for our mice and voles to help keep their teeth down and give them a source of calcium.

You may have noticed we also leave some in with our red squirrels, for a similar reason, but the little deer also like to chew on them from time to time.

Each year the deer begin to grow their new antlers straight away, it only takes around 16 weeks to grow them, and while they are growing they are covered in a "velvet" which supplies the antlers with all they need for this growth period. Once fully grown the velvet is stripped off, and the antlers are left exposed as you are used to seeing them.

Each year when a stag regrows his antlers, they get slightly bigger. But they follow a similar pattern to previous years in tine shape and position. You can see in this photo above of Albus' antlers from the previous 4 years.

So, while Albus is antlerless, this means that Olivandeer (yeah ok, not so good that one...) can strut about a bit more being the largest stag with antlers. But it will only be a few days till he loses his as well. I am looking forward to seeing his new antlers in particular though, he is at the age where his set this Summer will really begin to take shape as a mature stags head... maybe he will even be able to give Albus a good run in this Autumns rut. Only time will tell of course.