Monday, 24 April 2017

Long-Eared Owl Chicks


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

First 2017 Releases


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

Dancing Adders


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

Photo of the Month: March 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

Antlerless Albus


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

Easter Opening


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.