Thursday, 22 June 2017
Well, they've done it again. Another year, another second clutch of long-eared owl chicks from our pair Quill and Embry. This time they had two eggs hatch from two laid, another success.
They have been named Barney and Betty... um, yep... you read that right.
These little ones are currently being reared by our own Little Tom, and what better hands could they be in with Tom having reared their older brother Percy last year, who now performs so well in our flying team.
Already with homes lined up, they won't be with us too long, but no doubt Tom will show them off when he is in.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
Over the last couple of weeks, our red deer hinds have been giving birth. We currently have 5 calves out there, and one or two more hinds possibly about to give birth. Red deer calves are remarkable, usually on their feet within twenty minutes of being born. Very wobbly, but still up and moving. They spend a lot of time laid up in the grass however... Usually the mothers will leave them hidden away in the grasses while they head off and feed with the rest of the group, returning periodically throughout the day to feed the calf.
You may think that leaving them in the grass in not that good of a camouflage technique, but take a look at the photo above... can you see the calf?
OK, a little easier for you... how about above in the nettles?..
Did you find her in the bottom left corner? Great, what about the other one though, there are actually two calves in this photo!
So, out of the 5 we currently have, 4 keep getting tucked away in the grass, and the older one has begun to follow the herd a bit more frequently. I couldn't get close enough to take photo for you without disturbing the group, so here is one from last years youngsters with one of the hinds. Another month or two and our calves this year will look like this.
If you want to try and see our red deer calves, you will need patience. One or two maybe be with the group at the back of the paddock, but will unlikely come over for the Keeper Talk. The others you will need eagle eyes, or maybe even binoculars, to try and pick them out where they are laid up in the grass. A top tip!.. not always, but usually they are tucked up near a patch of nettles. Good luck!
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Our breeding pair of little owls, Robin and Nancy, have been extremely successful... 5 eggs were laid earlier this year, and all hatched! Nancy did a great job in rearing them, but we took them away at 2 weeks old so that we could rear and imprint them to become great educational owls.
Dave will be reared to be used alongside Tyrion as one of our meet and greet little owls, photographic superstars and maybe even join our flying team!
They are currently being looked after Izzy, so if you happen to visit on a day Izzy is working, you may be lucky enough to see them.
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
|"Running Otter" by Nicola Adzic|
It was an absolute joy looking through the many photographs that have been shared over the last month... We normally see a lot, but May seemed to be even more popular with the photographers out there. Lots of really amazing photographs too, we could of easily shared many more than we have.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main attraction seemed to be our three wildcat kittens. Lots of photos of these beautiful kittens all over the internet already. Surprisingly, our hedgehogs cropped up a lot more than usual. Great to see, and hopefully many more with the photography days coming up over the next couple of months.
But in the end, we went for this lovely photo of "Emmy" the otter running, taken by Nicola Adzic (Nik nik9 on Flickr). It is almost as if the otter is leaping out of the photo and some great spume, you feel as if you are going to get wet looking at it.
Well done Nicola, your photo will be in our gallery next year, and you will be in with a chance of winning a photographic day here at the Centre.
|"Tawny Owl" by Brett Watson|
Here are some other photos that caught our eyes, including this beautiful portrait of Aluco. As always you can see more of the photographers pictures by clicking on the link in their individual names.
A shy hedgehog during one of our photo days.
All three kittens in one shot, playing out on the grass.
|"Wildcat" by Emily Leonard|
And nice to see some didn't ignore mum and dad in favour of the kittens. Macavity in the dandelion seed heads.
Monday, 5 June 2017
It is time to say goodbye to one of our keepers, Lucy. Lucy has been with us for around 4 years, during which she has been a valuable member of our team, helping with the education and conservation work we do.
Over these years Lucy would of helped educate 1000's of school children about our British wildlife, and helped care for and form bonds with many of our animals... none more so than Tyrion, one of our little owls, who Lucy reared from a very young age.
Lucy has always shown a particular keen interest in the more direct conservation work we do, and it is this which she sees herself doing more of going in to the future. Therefore she has decided to leave the Wildlife Centre, allowing her to have the time to return to part-time study and work/volunteer part-time with local conservation and ecological groups.
We all wish Lucy all the very best for the future, and hope she will keep in touch to let us know how she is doing, and come back to visit us and all of the animals.
Friday, 2 June 2017
Those of you who have visited us recently may have noticed a bit of a tidy up as you come in. Just past the main gate, and opposite our picnic area, we had an old area with a few bird feeders hung from the trees... Well, over the last few weeks, we decided to tidy this little corner up and turn it in to an area to show you all some ideas for what you could do in your gardens at home to help wildlife.
Lots of different ideas are shown, some big some small, all that could be done to some scale in most gardens, and a lot which can be made up with old bits lying around. We have bird boxes and feeders, plenty of insect bits and pieces, reptile and amphibian homes, things to help your local hedgehogs... all sorts, and as an evolving project new things can be added as time goes by.
The centre piece has to be our majestic bug hotel, a modest size easily replicated on a larger or smaller scale. This provides a habitat for many a minibeast, and thus deserves a fitting name. We have called ours "Bugwarts" (thanks Leonie :-) )
The wildlife garden ideas really tidy up an unused area, and will look particularly good when the wildflowers begin to flower. Following on from this we have started to make use of other unused areas, all to show what can be done to help wildlife or just as a chance to observe nature.
Our wetlands reserve is home to many a species, including many reptiles and amphibians. It is also a relocation site for reptiles, and has had many a slowworm released over the years. Dotted around the reserve are some old hiberneculums, places for reptiles to hibernate and/or live.
Walking down our boardwalk, you will see a new bit of landscaping on the right hand side. This is a newer hiberneculum to show you what they can look like and what they are used for. They can be created on a smaller scale than ours, or even on a much larger scale to encompass large areas.
Little Tom has been hard at work, and between school groups and photographers, managed to create a great example for us to show you. Making use of the whole bank, a log pile, rockery, and two types of corrugated roofing all provide excellent hiding spots of reptiles.
Our reserve has seen many a slowworm and grass snake, and so it will be interesting to see if any decide to make use of their new habitats.
Ah, look at him... very pleased with his hard work!
Another little space used... the blank wall in the entrance to our badger sett now houses a wormery. Lots of trails can already be seen, and once we finish it it will make viewing of the worms themselves possible.
Lots of other ideas on the way to make use of the little corners around the Centre, so keep your eyes open for new things each time you pay us a visit.
Monday, 29 May 2017
There has been a few rumblings amongst some of the members who visit us regularly now about our wildcats. They were calling earlier this year, Kendra our female seems to be gaining weight, we decided to shut the male out in to his own enclosure, and then we stopped cutting the grass for a few weeks... On top of all this, it is a similar time of year to when she had kittens last year!
Well, the wait is over... yes, Kendra has had another litter of kittens this year, and even more exciting is that they have just started to make appearances over the last weekend. Still very shy around people, but we did manage to get a quick snap of one of them (above) before she ran back to her den.
Kendra is being a great mum, and is very experienced. These kittens look a little older than her last few litters when she started bringing them out, but either way they all look good and healthy.
Some of our visitors over the weekend managed to see them, and some even managed to take some lovely photographs. Hopefully we will see some of these shared online.
In the mean time, here are last years three kittens just outside their den at around the same age as our ones this year currently are.
Don't forget we are open everyday this week, and if you do decide to pay us a visit... keep your eyes open around the Wildcat enclosure for a chance to get a glimpse of these beautiful animals.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
What a hectic few weeks... This year it seems that a lot of things has happened at once, and we are only just about catching up with ourselves. This means a lot of news to share with you all, and hopefully I will be able to bowl a bountiful of blog posts your way over the coming weeks... that is if we get our electricity back! But that's a tale for another time.
So where shall I start. A lot happens behind the scenes here at the Centre, and I think it is sometimes nice to share some of these stories as well. A couple of weeks a go we had a couple of badger cubs brought in to us. They were on death's door, had obviously been out alone and abandoned for a night or two, completely dehydrated, stone cold and covered in more fleas and ticks than probably all us keepers put together had seen before.
Most of you will be aware that we do not advertise as a rescue centre, and usually pass animals that come to us on to dedicated rescue centres, but these two cubs needed immediate attention and a lot of luck! So we kept them here to look after.
After a long night, they were finally showing some good signs, and another day saw them begin to feed well from the bottle. They are now going from strength to strength, and are beginning to begin the weaning process.
They currently live off display where we can keep them quiet and keep a close eye on them, but they do venture out in to the Dell every so often to wander around, explore... and of course DIG! so if you see any muddy divots in there at the weekend, you now know why!
More new arrivals to announce soon, and of course half term next week too... could be a good week to visit!
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
|"Ted and Basil" by Dave Burden|
A lot has happened over the past month... Drogo being a star for the pine marten talk, long-eared owl chicks, Drogo loving his role for the pine marten talk, red squirrel kittens, a new emerging favourite for the pine marten talk, heron chicks, dancing adders, oh... and did I mention Drogo, he is really relishing his new role as being one of our main pine martens for the afternoon talks!
Lots of photographs showing all these things have been sent and and shared over the internet, but I chose the photo above by Dave Burden to be April's photo of the month. What a great moment to capture!
And below are some other favourites from the last few weeks...
|"Heron Chicks" by Bobs Photography|
|"Dancing Adders" by Moi Hicks|
|"Harvest Mouse" by Lisa Clark|
|"Hedgehog" by Andre Neves|
Sunday, 30 April 2017
As well as our walk through enclosure, we have several breeding pens off display where we house squirrels for our breeding and release programs. Along with a few litters at other sites, we have a few here too which well be part of a release later this year on to another island. More news on this when the time comes.
Monday, 24 April 2017
Do you remember Leo and Percy? Well there mum and dad have done it again... another clutch of eggs, and this time three successful chicks were hatched! Meet (from right to left above) Megatron, Starscream and Ironhide.
Last year our long eared owls had one chick in the Spring, and a second later in the Summer. So who knows, after these three above they may well have another clutch later this year too.
These long eared owl chicks are now about 3 weeks old for the oldest, with the other two a few days younger. Within a clutch you usually get the eggs hatching a day or two apart from each other, and you can see the size difference of these in the photo at the top.
We have taken these chicks to be creche reared together before finding their new homes. They are being looked after by the keepers, who are getting them used to people, various noises and the ways of life. They will then be friendly owls ready anything their new homes throw at them.
Saturday, 15 April 2017
This past week was the annual Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group (CDCBG) meeting. As well as discussing all things domousey, it was a chance for the group to collect up all the dormice bred last year for the annual release.
We had a very successful year last year, and all our youngsters came with us to the meeting to be handed over to the quarantine team. Both London Zoo and Paignton Zoo take the dormice to be checked over before release later in the year, co-ordinated by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).
As well as our dormice preparing for their release, we had our first release of harvest mice on home soil! With the warmer Spring in full flow, we were finally able to release the many we had been keeping safe over the Winter months.
We breed several harvest mice each year, and have slowly been releasing them around our reserve. Last year we found several signs, including nests, to show they are settling in well and really making a home for themselves out there.
More animal news over the coming weeks, including some new arrivals!
Monday, 10 April 2017
Firstly, apologies to those whose photos I shared yesterday, I prefer to leave them as the first post for a few days, but secondly... THE ADDERS ARE DANCING!
Above is an old photo, but you can see from the two below that they started to have a little tussle yesterday afternoon in the sun. Nothing spectacular, and still early days, but I know a lot of you have been waiting for this so thought I would throw it our there.
There is never any guarantees of course, but this does mean they could well be dancing again at some point this week. You all know I love this, but I will try to limit my posts on the adders... especially as there is so much other news to share at the moment.
So if you are visiting this week, makes sure you spend some time up with our awesome adders. If you are not too keen on snakes, come and see them anyway... see how beautiful and miss understood they really are!
Don't forget to check out yesterdays post to see some visitors photos that we shared from last month.
See you by the adders.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
|"Polecat" by Kevin Pinfold|
Spring finally feels like it is here, and the number of you visiting with your cameras shows this too. Lots of fantastic photographs shared over the past few weeks, by I chose this one above of one of our polecats, taken by Kevin Pinfold, to be our photo for March. You will be able to see it up in our gallery next year, and Kevin will be in with a shout of winning our photographic day here if chosen by our professional photographer at the end of the year.
|"Red Squirrel" by Dave Burden|
Here are a few of the other photos that caught our eyes.
|"Red Fox" by Adrian Coleman|
|"Harvest Mouse" by Jennifer McCluskey|
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
It is that time of year again when our Red Deer lose their antlers. If you have visited us over the last few days, then you may of thought we only have the one stag... Olivandeer... but our master stag, Albus Dumbledeer, cast his antlers a few days a go.
This happens every year during the Spring. Our red stags will drop their antlers before growing a new set, this growth starts straight away, and usually only takes around 16 weeks until they have a full set again. I expect Olivandeer will lose his before the Easter opening is over.
Each year their antlers grow slightly larger, as you can see from the photo above, but still stick to a familiar pattern. The first small set at the top is what Albus was wearing when he first arrived at the Centre, and the largest set at the bottom the ones Big Tom picked up from the paddock a few days a go.
The growth is remarkable... covered in a soft velvet, these antlers will grow noticeably over the weeks... possibly even days with Albus's crown! In the past I have taken photos weekly of the growth, and will attempt to do so again to show the speed of this process come the Summer when he has a full head again!
Saturday, 1 April 2017
Some of you may have heard the news through Facebook that 'Pip's Corner' is now open for the Easter holiday, but you know what else we have at the Centre for you to enjoy?.. A wealth of wonderful wildlife, an abundance of awesome animals, a bevy of beautiful British b... uh, yeah!
This time of year is particularly good too, as the clocks have changed and the days are lengthening. Most of our hibernating animals have now emerged, or are in the process of doing so, and we even have our first signs of new life. One of the first Spring sightings for us are the herons nesting, and they are currently sitting on eggs. And yes you can go and see them, as the boardwalk is now open after a couple of months of essential repair works.
You all know one of my favourite Spring sightings are the adders. I mentioned a few weeks a go that we saw the males out, and one of the females emerged a week or so a go. I was a bit worried about the second female, but finally saw her a couple of days a go so all are good and looking well.
The nocturnal house is beginning to wake up, and Tiny Tom the hedgehog has been busy for a few weeks now. The bats have been seen too, leaving just the dormice to begin to wake up... but I would imagine this will be very soon as we have seen signs of out breeding dormice already waking up in their outside pens.
Longer days allow us to lengthen our schedule of Keeper Talks, and the summer itinerary is now in place. This means we no longer do a dedicated talk on the polecats (although you will still see them out and about), but have introduced the badgers, pine martens and hedgehogs back on to the agenda.
And of course, there is a lot more to see too. Our otter cubs are growing up, and I will have an update for you on them shortly (yes, including names...) Our red squirrels are going well, and signs of a few possible litters already. And some of you may have noticed a re-vamp to our bird feeding area as you enter the Centre. More news on the idea behind this too coming shortly.
So, remember we are now open to the public everyday for the next two weeks and Easter bank holiday Monday. Why not come and see us and the animals.
Thursday, 16 March 2017
The warmer weather has brought some of our hibernators out from their winter slumber. Some of our dormice have begun to stir, our hedgehogs have been up and about for a few nights, our bats have begun to flutter and feed during the day and perhaps most noticeable are our adders.
Last week we saw the two males up for the first time, and over the weekend they made an appearance along with one of the females.
Having just emerged, they are not looking their best. Some sand around their eyes and a dull skin. But it won't be long till they have had a swim and cleaned themselves up, a shedding of skin will make them glisten and then of course it will be soon time for them to do their yearly "dance".