Friday, 21 August 2015

Snakes and Martens

Drogo, Pine Marten

Our busy summer continues at the Centre. All good for us of course, but means less time with my camera. However, that time I have had I have been very pleased with what I have managed to take. 

Above is one of my favourite portrait photos of Drogo, our newest male pine marten at the Centre. Isn't he a handsome chap?

Bonnie and Clyde have been busy eating the plums that have fallen in to their enclosure, so I thought I would try the others on them too. Seems they all like them, and Drogo in particular couldn't get enough of them :-)

It was difficult to get any good photos of him eating them, but fun none the less just watching him go about his business.

The other time I took my camera out was to witness something I have never seen before... a female adder give birth to her live young. We have had adder babies born here in the past, but never have I seen the actual birth. This year I did though, a first and quite possibly a last, and by chance I had my camera with me. The photos are not great as she was in an awkward place in the enclosure, but just seeing it was enough for me and I didn't want to get too close and disturb her.

This is seconds after birth with the membraneous egg sac still visible covering the little neonate.

You can see how small he is next to mum, and perhaps more so on the sand in the photo below.

They can have up to double figures in a single birth, and we know of at least six that were born last week. If you want to hear more about it or see more photos have a look on the BWC Blog, tabbed above under the banner, and check back in the archives about a week from the date of this post.

Feisty little things, but great fun to watch and photograph.

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Recent Photos

Hugo the Hedgehog

I have had very little time for photography over the past month. Work has been busy, and moving in to the summer opening period always leaves me with less time. I did manage to spend a few minutes with one of our hedgehog youngsters, Hugo, last week though. This is him above in his first photo shoot having been hand reared by Big Tom.

There's a few more pics of him below, but before that I thought I would share some of the others I have taken recently. 

Lots of youngsters born here this year, which is great news of course. This is one of our fallow deer fawns above.

One of our polecat kits... they are doing exceptionally well, and are part of a release programme for later in the year.

Two new weasels, both of which have settled very well. This is Neve in one of our outside enclosures... she has really established herself as a little star already, and has been posing beautifully for photography. 

Another litter of water voles in our display pen, this is one of the youngsters exploring from one of the tunnels.

Below are a couple of pics you may find interesting, or not :-) , but I'm going to share them anyway...

Someone found a dead mole, and brought it to the Centre for me as a gift... yes, I get unusual gifts :-) , not really sure what to do with it I noticed something I had not noticed before despite seeing, handling and working with many moles over the years... They have what appears to be an extra digit on their hind feet!

It looks almost like a sixth toe! Technically they still have five toes, but the way their paw has adapted shows this extra digit. Amazing!

Of course I took a photo, and while at it took one of it's front paw too... Look how amazing it is!

Incredible the way it has adapted and formed in to almost a shovel like hand. 

 So, here are a few more of Hugo.

Hey Hugo, where are "hugo-ing"

Thanks for looking :-)

Monday, 13 July 2015


Tyrion, the Little Owl

A couple more of Tyrion, our new little owl chick, for you. He is growing fast! Hopefully part of our flying team but the end of the summer.

When first starting to train, and before they can fly, it is nice to get them to run along the ground towards you when you call them. This is from one of my first attempts. Unfortunately we tried again a couple of days ago, but he now half flies half runs... good really, but means no more running photos.

And you all know I like a good portrait.

Below is a slo-mo video of him running taken on the iPhone.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 3 July 2015


I was introduced to Instagram earlier this year, and so when I got my new smart phone it was one of the first aps I downloaded. It has taken me a while, a few months in fact, but I have now finally set up an account there to share some of my photographs.

Originally I wanted only to share photographs I took on my phone, and keep true to how instagram was originally set up, but I have soon run out of phone photos, and so will post a few of my other between times to keep it ticking over.

If you use intstagram and want to follow me there, I am under the name @themattbinstead. Their is a link in the bar below the header of this page too.

Bear with me, as I am knew to all this mobile stuff. I still don't understand all the #'s, @'s and re-postings etc... but i will get there. I am also finding it tricky being restricted to a square crop, but again... I'll get there.

The photos I will be posting there will mainly be from my phone, with some from my other cameras to fill in gaps here and there. My phone photos will be a mixture of life around the British Wildlife Centre. Be it the animals, as the harvest mouse on the dandelion above. Work we do, such as releasing animals as above, and even the odd snaps of animals we are rearing at the time such as this little stoat below!

For those who have never used or seen instagram, or are dubious about trying it, I highly recommend it. I'll be the first to admit I was sceptical since it being on a phone, but even if you never post photos yourself you will lget to see some amazing, and I mean "AMAZING" photography by following the right people/groups! A couple of my favourites are @nakedplanet (which is about wildlife and nature, I promise!), @natgeo (one of the national geographic ones) and of course @BBC Springwatch.

So, there you go, have a look at @themattbinstead if you are an instagram user to see more photos from around the BWC!

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Introducing "Tyrion" the Little Owl

Tyrion, the Little Owl, at 3 1/2 weeks

Meet Tyrion, our new Little Owl Chick!

He was hatched out here at the Centre earlier this year, and is a huge success for us in being the first little owl we have bred, and a commendation for our new aviaries. Our breeding pair of little owls have been here for three seasons, the first in their old aviary, last year moved around a lot during the season due to new accommodation being built, and finally this year with all things settled we had success!

You have seen this photo above before, but it is one of my favourites. It really shows off how little he is on top of the gate. Of course the lovely iron work of the gate helps make the picture.

With most youngsters, but especially ones we rear, I normally try to do a few photo shoots for the record. These then act as souvenirs too for us keepers, and gets the animals used to cameras. So far with Tyrion we have had two shoots. Another hopefully in the next couple of days, and then a final one when he is fully feathered in a week or so.

They really do grow quickly, and are fully grown and looking like an adult owl in roughly 10 weeks! Incredible when you think about it. They normally start out as little ugly balls of fluff, but then develop in to beautiful owls... a real ugly duckling transformation.

I have never shot black and white, and very rarely change a photo to black and white. But I liked this one above, but it just didn't feel right in colour, so I tried a change and like it more this way.

These ones are from our second shoot, maybe a week later than the first, and you can see the difference already. Much more sure of himself and stable, bigger and more feathers.

We try to take our owl chicks away before 3 weeks old if we want to train them to join our flying team. You can take them later than this, but it is much more difficult, far easier to get them young and really imprint them on yourself. All our flying owls think they are people in little owl suits :-)

Getting him started at an early age! Always good to have a peeking owl shot.

Little owls often look really grumpy, good to see that Tyrion has mastered that look already!

I normally get the fisheye lens out at some point on a photo shoot, it doesn't always work, but when it does it gives a unique looking photo.

You can't beat a good old portrait though :-)

Keeper Lucy is rearing Tyrion, and will soon begin the flying training. Hopefully by the end of the summer he will be a fully fledged member of the flying team!

Thanks for looking :-)