Thursday, 15 December 2016


It has been a slow second half of the year in terms of me taking photographs. Lack of time due to work being so busy was definitely a factor, and a little slack of motivation too if truth be told when I did have a bit of time. I didn't help that my main lens broke too! All fixed now thankfully.

Here is a quick catch up of things, a bit photo heavy and nothing special, but worth hanging in there till the end if you want to see a photo of some cute otter cubs!

So to start off, you may be wondering what the photo above is... why did I just take a photo of some grass?.. Well, if you look close enough, you may see some of the grass is neatly woven in to a ball. This is a harvest mouse nest out on our nature reserve.

I have always known our mice do well out there, as I often see signs and on occasion the mice them selves, but this is the first time we have found one of their nests. This is important as it means we can record this to show our releases are a success (don't ask me why, but just seeing them is never enough to some people).

Lucy, being our resident craz... uh, enthusiast of harvest mice :-) is spending time to record and monitor all these nests this winter for our records at work. All good stuff.

I was asked for a particular type of photo of our polecats for work. You know the deal, blank space and backgrounds etc... not looking at the camera. Very difficult as the time of year was when they had kits. These were the best I could do in the twenty minutes I had one afternoon.

And I couldn't ignore the males, so here is one of the boys.

Before the rut I always check on the deer, while out in the paddock I took this close up of their fur as an experiment for something I'm currently working on. Hopefully more on that next year.

A simple portrait of one of our red squirrels.

While in there I realised I don't have a photo of them drinking, something I have seen many others share before. So I took a quick one when I saw this squirrel grab a drink. I was a bit close unfortunately so the tail got a bit cropped off, but you get the idea.

The last work thing I did was our deer rutting, above is the one we used for publicity, and one of the last photos I took before my lens packed in.

So I was limited to a wide angle or a large zoom. Above a nice portrait of Albus during the rut in the morning sun.

Then most recent, a couple of weeks a go, I did a little session with our long eared owl Percy. I'm not a huge fan of silhouettes but the conditions lended them selves to it... and if you're going to do it, I think you need an animal with an obvious outline if that makes sense. Another owl would just not of worked as well.

So a series of portraits, all in landscape as they were needed for a calendar.

This was the one I ended up going for.

This was possibly my favourite, a little more obscure.

And I just had to take this portrait while he was posing in this beautiful shape against the tree.

"Me and some Otter Cubs" by Alan K Jones

As promised, here are some baby otters! Adorable aren't they?..

They are now 7 weeks old, and recently we health checked them and micro chipped them etc. They will probably start too come out over the next week or two, and thankfully my main lens is now fixed and back in my possession ready to try and catch them having their swimming lessons.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 2 December 2016

Houdini the Weasel

"Houdini" the Weasel

For those that follow our "British Wildlife Centre" Facebook page, you may have seen our new cover star for our 2017 leaflet. "Houdini" the weasel. The office selected the above photo to grace the front of the leaflet for next year, and I was particularly pleased to see on elf our less known animals make the call!

Weasels are such amazing animals, our smallest carnivore in this country... it is said that a female weasel could fit through a wedding ring, and this is probably true... but I would have to say it would need to be a small weasel and a big wedding ring.

One thing I always use to try and explain to people the size of a weasel, is a comparison to a pack of Polos. A female weasel is about the same size. I must try and get a photograph of one of our weasels next to a pack at some pout to illustrate this.

Our cover star, and indeed the weasel in all these photographs, is Houdini. She is a real beauty, but sadly no longer with us having passed away earlier this year to old age. She was a rescue who came to us with out a tail. Having been rescued, she was too tame to release, and so I sent a dear friend of mine "Robin" to collect her from the midlands where she was found. This is the beginning of where her name came from...

You see, I was often asked "is she called Houdini because she escapes a lot?" And the truth is she never escaped once while she was here. Robin however did have an interesting car journey home.

When he arrived back to the Centre, we checked the cage she Houdini was supposed to be in, and she was no where to be found. Bemused, we kept searching, and then from the corner of my eye I saw some movement out of a small hole in another box that was in the back of the car. Keeping a close watch, a few seconds later, Houdini popped her head out of the hole again. During her trip down south, she had managed to get out of her cage, and find a much more suitable box to travel in :-)

I don't have too many photographs of our weasels, they are extremely quick and fast, but you can see a couple of different poses in this post. My favourite is the second picture in this post, a classic portrait which you all know I like, and in the grass which really shows her scale and how small weasels really are.

Thanks for looking :-)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Long-eared Owls

Earlier this week I went out on the reserve with our two new long eared owls, and keepers Meg and Tom. I haven't picked up my camera in a while, due mainly to time... and admittedly possibly a little lack in motivation too... but the glorious evening called, and I had yet to take some nice photos of these two owls since they had fully grown.

Above is Leo, hand reared by Meg. A beautiful long eared owl who has already been on a few of our owl days.

Despite the weather being lovely, we had surprisingly little light. So when it did break for a few moments I took advantage to take a head shot of Leo to show off his facial disc.

Here are all four of them, you can see how dim it was despite the weather, surprising really but we made the most of it. Took a while to get all four of them to look at the camera at the same time :-)

And here is Percy, reared by Tom. Still a little maturing to do, but practically there. Despite being siblings they are different in both looks and personality. Amazing how the same animals are still very individual, have their own characteristics, even when from the same litter parents.

We set them up in a few different places, but didn't spend too long. We hoped to go in to the woods... but unfortunately it was too dark for that.

Tom and Percy chilling in the grass, all in all it was a good sessions.

Then right before we all left, Meg flew Leo in the Dell. He is a little star already in our displays, and I will get some nice photos for you of him flying out on the reserve when I have time, but just for a record shot this will do.

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Owl Growth

Long-eared owl in the snow

It has been a busy couple of months at the Centre, so busy in fact that I have rarely picked up my camera! People have often said to me, "It must be lovely working there, being able to take photographs whenever you want"... but that's the thing, I'm working here!.. rarely get the time to photograph, it's just when I do get the time I have a few advantages of course.

So what's been happening? Well, them owls been growing... What's it take to make a long eared owl like Archimedes above? About 8 weeks growth from the chick below...

This is Leo at around 3 weeks old. It always amazes me every time we rear an owl how quickly they change, but they have too grow their adult feathers quick to help survive in the wild. You can see he can't reliably stand on his legs yet, often sitting on his haunches.

Another week or so, and now a confident stander... almost strutting you might say. Head is beginning to take shape, and the feathers beginning to push through on his wings.

A bit older, and a bit more feather showing. More coming through too on the tail and wings, and the face continuing to take shape. Beginning to look like an owl.

Not far off the finished article. Wings and tail are complete, facial disc looking good, just some down to lose on the chest and back. The back of the head is nearly always the last to mature, and then his little ear tufts will begging to emerge.

I have lots of photos of all British owls developing, but won't bore you here and now. But just to finish see these three stages of a barn owl growing and maturing.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 24 June 2016

Recent Pics

"Wildcat Kitten" 

The kittens have been great fun over the past few weeks, bringing many people in to see them. I haven't actually had that much time to photograph them myself, but have got a few nice ones of them that I like. I will share a few later when they are older, a few of them growing and playing etc, but here are a couple in the mean time.

Leo, our long eared owl chick, is really growing fast. Nearly there in these two photos, and practically there in real life now. Only his ear tufts to fully come through. Like with the kittens, I will share a series of him growing on this blog soon. Just need to take him out for a photo shoot now he has his tufts :-)

And one of our new roe deer, Willow. She is really friendly, and has made our other doe, Chestnut, bolder too.

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Recent Pictures

"Leo" our long-eared owl

A few new births over the recent months, and lots of interest for visitors. One of the new stars is Leo, a long eared owl we hatched out here at the Centre.

You can see he is growing very fast, and is even more 'adult' looking than this now!

Perhaps our biggest draw at the moment are our wildcat kittens. After a hiatus, we decided to breed them again this year.

Kendra had three kittens, all currently healthy and doing very well.

Just a quick post to share a couple of pics, but I will do a longer one on both the kittens and the long eared owl showing them growing etc later in the year.

And a quick phone picture to end with. 5 day old polecat kitts! Rarely see these, but we had to move them off display with their um as she was not settling. Pleased to say they are all doing well now, and she is much happy with them off view.

Thanks for looking :-)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Dance of the Adders, 2016

"Dance of the Adders" - 2016

Our adders finally started dancing just over a week a go. A little later than usual, but then they emerged from hibernation earlier as well. They put on a brief display on the Friday, and then followed this up with some good action on the Saturday and Sunday, much to the enjoyment of many of our visitors!

During the past week I have not seen any "dancing" at all, and now the temperatures have dropped again that could be it for the year. Brief, but beautiful! That being said, I do remember about three years a go something similar happening with temperature drops just after they started, and they continued where they left off a couple of weeks later when it warmed up again... so who knows.

Anyway, here are a few pics from last weekend...

And I will end with a portrait... you can't beat a good portrait!

Thanks for looking :-)