Sunday, 11 February 2018

Photo of the Month: January 2018

"Red Squirrel" by Barry Doolan

A bit later in the month than usual, but here is our first photo of the month for 2018! In the past the winter months seem to have been a bit slower than usual for sharing of photographs, but this year that all changed. Lot's of images popping up, maybe thanks to the new social media prescence the Centre has.

For January we have chosen this cheeky little portrait above of one of our red squirrels, taken by Barry Doolan. Barry's photo will be the first in our gallery for 2019, and be in with a chance of winning a photographic day here at the Centre if chosen at the end of the year out of the 12 monthly images by our professional photographer judge.

If you would like to see more of Barry's photos, click on the link in his name above, and look below for a a few more photos that caught our eyes over the last month.


"Female and Young Otters" by Robert North



"Scottish Wildcat" by Richard Knight



"Tip toe across the fence" by Brett Watson



"Red Fox" by Adrian Coleman

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Photo of the Year: 2017

"Red Squirrel" by Paul Stuart

Let us round up last year's photo "competition" by announcing the winner, this year chosen by professional wildlife photographer Bob Brind-Surch.

Bob has been a wildlife photographer for most of his life, and teaches others about both photography and the animals he photographs through his workshops under "Natures Photos." A great photographer, a brilliant teacher and just an all round nice bloke! He describes himself as "foremost a naturalist that photographs what he observes rather than a photographer that specialises in wildlife. This is very important to me"... and it shows during his workshops at the Centre, where Bob is just as passionate about the animals he is photographing as the photography itself, and seems to enjoy sharing this knowledge with his clients too.

So, what did Bob choose to win the photographic day here at the Centre?.. Well let me pass you over to him...


"Thanks so much for asking me to judge these photos, there are some great ones there. You have asked me for my favourite and that was very difficult as there are a number of excellent photos... but after much deliberation I have chosen the squirrel on the vertical branch by Paul Stuart."

"He (Paul) has framed this superbly with the vertical branch travelling bottom left to top right, whilst conventional composition rules say it ought to be the other diagonal this approach draws the viewer's attention up along the branch and to the squirrel and especially it's face and amazing ear tufts which are perfectly sharp, as are its whiskers. Try flipping the photo horizontally and you will see what I mean. The management of the focus either deliberately or in post-production is great blurring the trunk to the left and making the edge of the photo form a great boundary to hold the photo together, and the blurring of the tail with a shallow depth of field again draws your eye to the face and ear tufts - the key parts of the squirrel." - Bob Brind-Surch


Many congratulations to Paul. Your beautiful portrait of a red squirrel will not only grace the wall in our coffee shop gallery along with the other 11 photographs chosen last year, but also wins a photographic day here at the Centre. The office will no doubt be in touch soon with more details.

To see more of Paul's photographs, click on the link in his name above, to go to his flickr page.

Many thanks again to Bob Brind-Surch. If you want to see any of Bob's images, or learn about some of the workshops he provides, click on the link below to go to his Natures Photos website.


Natures Photos - Bob Brind-Surch


Friday, 2 February 2018

Keeper Vacancy


With 2018 shaping up to be a big year for the Centre, we need to take on an extra keeper to join our team of happy humans. This is the last weekend (up till midnight on Monday the 5th of Feb) that we will be accepting applications.

So... can you train a fox to tie up shoe laces?..



Can you teach a deer how to graze efficiently?..



Can you perfect both the "smug" and "confused" look while flying owls?..



 Do you have a natural ability to create silhouettes?..



Could you work with this hard working man?.., eh hang on...



I mean this handsome man?..



Would you make a good fraggle?..

If you can answer yes to any of these, have a passion for British Wildlife and these scary people haven't put you off, then follow the link below to go to our website and see more information about the position and how to apply.


Blog Update


Hello everyone... yes, we are still here... it is just that the past month has seen a lot of work going on at the Centre behind the scenes, or at least not directly relating to the animals here. A bit of re-thinking from our office team on a few fronts, and a bit of re-structuring in our coffee shop as well... but for those of you that want to visit us, please don't forget we do still have some lovely animals here for you to see too!

So, lots to catch up on... keep an eye open for an exciting opportunity being posted here later today. Next week we will round up our Photo of the Year for 2017, before sharing our first Photo of the Month for 2018. I have some lovely photos of our two beautiful otter cubs I am itching to share with you, half term is only just over a week away and we have been involved with some exciting research work I will let you know about too... but first a quick update.



2018 is going to be a big year for the Centre, and the office staff have decided to grab the bull by the horns, or maybe that should be deer by the antlers... and really push the social media side of things. Some of you may have noticed this already, and our facebook group is now far more active and they have plans to extend this to both twitter and instagram.

Actually deer antlers fall off each year, maybe we should stick with bull by the horns...

With this push in mind, they want to post a lot of the little animal updates straight to social media. Just the little snippets like the odd photo, or quick update, nothing major. Most of you visit this blog via links on social media already, but for those of you who come directly here don't worry, you won't miss out on any of the big stories. Any real news on the animals at the Centre... new arrivals, exhibits, cubs growing up etc I will still post about here.



With these changes in mind, you may have noticed the blog looks a little different. Nothing major, just a couple of new images and a wider display to make things a bit easier on the eye, but also a few more links.

Up top there are now direct links to our social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube all run by our office team. Also a link to our flickr group where several of our visitors have and continue to share photographs they have taken here. On the right it is now a bit easier to find things in this blog. A search bar that covers every post ever made, the full archive of posts listed, a featured post and a list of a few popular posts from the past year.



I realise I said a quick update, it seems it is a long update, but let me bring you up to speed with the animals quickly before you leave. You can see further up that one of our stoats, Susie, moulted in to her ermine coat again this year. Looking as beautiful as ever. She is still ermine at the moment, and should be for a few more weeks.

The keepers have been busy using the slightly quieter time of year to get on top of some enclosure sorting, and preparing some animals to be moved. A new pine marten will be on display shortly, and our wildcat kittens from last year are getting ready to be collected to join the breeding program at other Centres across the country.



And finally, did you see our owner David Mills make the small cameo alongside Dame Judi Dench in her tree program before Christmas?... What am I saying, of course you did... we reminded you enough about it... Well, his new role as TV starlet continues this coming Sunday on Countryfile as he talks with Ellie about our foxes. Make sure to give it a watch to see David and some of our foxes on the small screen.