Friday, 21 September 2018

Brown Rats

After the few photos of black rats I took a few weeks a go, I realised I don't really have any of our brown rats. Although seen in the feed station and overhead tubes often, they are quite shy in their main display area... so I went over late one night to see them all active. The problem with this is it was very dark, even with the light on in the enclosure, I was photographing at a VERY high iso.

These are the best I could manage, and are very noisy due to the iso, but I am pretty pleased with them. I will have to try again another night, and see if I can add some artificial light to help.

While there, I took a couple of our black rats again. They really are so much prettier than the brown rat. Due to the late night, not as good as the ones I got a few weeks a go, but nice record shots non the less. 

I quite like this one, and was trying to get his shadow on the boarding behind him too. Bit more work required with this one but nearly what I had in mind.

And checking on our other little mice and voles, our shy wood mice were very active. It was even darker in the hedgerow, but I managed a couple of nice portraits, even if they are very grainy.

Thanks for looking :-)

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Black Rats

Our black rats are very difficult to photograph. They can be quite shy, and scurry off quickly if you make any sudden moves or get too close to them, unless they are in their feeding area or over head run... but either of these areas are not that great for taking pictures.

I did go in to the enclosure with them one morning for a few minutes, and after they got used to me being in there I did get a chance to take a few photos, but it was VERY dark. I was quite pleased with these ones though.

Thanks for looking :-)

Monday, 6 August 2018

Photo Update

Here are some photos from the last few months. Only record shots really, nothing special, but thought some of you may like to see them.

A couple of photos of a swan with her cygnets. First time she hatched any out on our reserve, and got lucky one morning that she happened to be bringing them by while I was on the boardwalk with my camera.

One of our wild harvest mice that we released out on to our reserve.

Photographing our deer calves, and they all stuck together or with the females except for this little one. He stayed with the boys!

Thought it was quite funny how they were together, bit like he wanted to be one of the big deer... and it was even him who ended up leading the older stags back to the group. A master stag in the making perhaps.

One of out water voles on our display island.

Two new ravens are now in our care at the Centre. This is their aviary. They perch up high, and have a nice outlook over the whole of the deer park, most of the Centre, and half of the nature reserve too.

It really is quite impressive, as you walk down to the owl aviaries you can see the ravens perched high above in their aviary.

Huginn (below) and Muninn (above) named after Norse god Odin's ravens.

Stanley Brown, one of our three badger cubs hand reared and given to us. Starting to come out while the public are around and still nice and friendly.

And his two clan mates in a tunnel they use to keep cool in. Oreo and Humbug being shy behind.

Thanks for looking :-)

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Owlet Update

Our barn owl chick, Floki, is unrecognisable to how he was only a few weeks ago. Can you believe this handsome chap above used to look like this odd little fluff ball below!..

He has grown well, and is now well on his way with his flying training with keeper Tom. It won't be long till he is part of our full flying team, and putting on a show with the others.

These are a couple of other pics off him growing up.

Our other owlets are all doing well too, and we have a second clutch of little owl chicks which are currently being reared by mum to become aviary owls.

Below are a couple of photos of our tawny owl chicks from a few weeks a go. They are now pretty much fully feathered with just their heads left to develop.

Thanks for looking :-)

Monday, 2 July 2018

Grass Snake

A couple of weeks a go we were able to get a rare hold of our grass snake, so I took a couple of photos. A few here to share with you.

For those not too keen on snakes, don't worry, I have some lovely photos of our owlets growing up which I will share soon.

I love colour, and it's amazing to look at animal colour closely. I have seen it a lot in many species, but look at the "green" scales of the grass snake above... greens, blues, yellows, browns... a real mix of colour in there.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 1 June 2018


Lot's of owlets this year for us at the Centre. Just a few pics for you here. Above are two tawny owls on the right, and a little owl on the left.

Our long eared owls have been very successful for a number of years. Three more chicks so far this year in their first clutch, including this one above who had a quick photo shoot before heading off to Nescot College.

Our tawny owls bred for the first time this year, but unfortunately it was soon apparent that the mother wasn't sure what she was doing. We had to take them a lot earlier than we normally would to hand rear them, but they are now looking really good.

Another successful year for our little owls too. We have bred them a few times before, but this is the first time in back to back years they have hatched out a clutch of chicks. 4 this time, two of which will stay at the Centre.

Our owlets are being reared by the keepers, who get to take them home at night to make sure they have company and stay friendly. 

And one little chick that didn't hatch out here, but was donated to us to rear for our flying team. A Barn owl being hand reared by keeper Tom.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 25 May 2018


While photographing the adders dancing, I managed to take a few pictures of them on their own too. Above is my favourite, and one I have been after for a long time. You have to be very lucky, right place right time, and this year I was. 

While dancing, one of the adders stopped and went under the tile shelter. He came out the other end, and was moving his mouth in a way that I though he would open it up wide. They often do this after eating, to realign their jaw, so maybe during the tussle with another male he knocked it slightly and wasn't comfortable. 

I ha put my camera down at this point, and was talking to my brother watching on the outside, but saw the above out the corner of my eye. Luckily, I was in there with them and laying down. Lucky I had my macro lens on as I was quite close. Lucky he faced me at a nice angle while he "yawned" Very lucky that on this photo nothing was in the way... I have several others in the sequence, but each one has a blade of grass in front of his head!

A few others I quite liked, above and below of one of our males... actually I think that is one each of both our males. Then further down the darker female curled up in the logs. 

Side on female.

Facing the camera.

And again, but wit a male writhing over her. Shows nicely the contrast difference between the males and females.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 18 May 2018

Dancing Adders

A couple of weeks a go now our adders 'danced'. This is such an amazing thing to see, and I have been lucky enough to see it here a the Centre for several years now. It is always one of the signs of Spring for me, something I always look forward to observing, and an experience I enjoy immersing myself in by just laying in the enclosure with them... watching, photographing and being absorbed by the beauty of it.

This 'dance of the adders' is a ritual battle between rival males, competing over a nearby female for a mate. If you want to know more about it, have a look at our BWC blog where I go in to a bit more detail and even have a short video showing some of it in action.

These are just a few photos from this years experience. Despite photographing this for many years now, you always see new things and end up with different photos. Above is my favourite from this season... two of our males dancing almost on top of one of our females, with her not looking too impressed at all.

As well as them dancing, I took the chance to get a few portraits of them while they were busy being distracted with other things! I will share a couple of these next week, including one I am particularly pleased with.

The dance is over for this year now, a lot of lucky visitors managed to see it over the bank holiday weekend, and a very lucky photography group who were here on perhaps the best day for them dancing.

They have since mated, and so possibly some young adders later in the year. Time will tell.

Thanks for looking :-)