Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Autumn Update

It's been a while, and not due to lack of photos. Actually this year I've managed to get out around the Centre a little more than usual to take some pictures, but with work being as busy as ever there has been a lack of time to post or share some of them.

Here are a few of the many over the last few months, a bit of a mix, and most straight forward portraits. I will hopefully share a few more of the others around these, if that makes sense, in time. I don't think I will be out with the camera much for the rest of the year, unless we get some snow of course.

Above is Quil-i-am one of our hedgehogs that was reared earlier this year. Last week we did a photo shoot with him and his brother, Snoophog, in an autumn leave set up.

This is our new roe buck, Rowan, who we have only had for a few weeks. He is a very handsome chap, and settling in extremely well.

It seems out younger buck, Vinny, managed to hold on and take over control of our fallow herd from our pale buck Norman. Vinny put on a real good show this year, barking away and strutting his stuff in front of them all.

One of our red squirrel kittens from this year. You may notice he only has half a tail!.. We are not sure why or how this happened, but have named him Nutkin of course after Beatrix Potter's squirrel who lost half his tail.

Braveheart our main male wildcat now. He will be paired up for breeding early next year.

Elwood in the rain. Not that you can really see the rain in this picture, but it was quite a fun half hour with our two otters trying to photograph them with the rain falling quite heavily.

One of our male adders, Lucius, curled up in the top of the gorse bush. Now in brumation for the winter.

Here is Snoophog from his autumn leave photography experience.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Water Voles


Over the earlier part of this year our maintenance team were doing some essential work on our water vole island display, trying to rectify the many leaks it had developed over the years. While this work was being carried our we moved a small group of water voles into our grass snake enclosure for people still to see (having taken the rarely seen grass snakes out first).

They were a nice little display in there, but long term it was never suitable, our main island display is nearly four times the size, and so as soon as it was ready we moved them back to their home! For those who have never visited, or can't remember, our water vole display is a large raised enclosure so that photographers can get eye level with them when on the land and almost eye level when in the water. It has a large island, surrounded by water, with two smaller feeding platform islands for them to get to to feed... Having said that, most of the food they take will be naturally on the island and we just supplement with rabbit food, fruit and veg.

This display has worked well for us in the past, and the voles seem to enjoy it. Over the last few weeks they have been back they have been very active, chasing each other over the island, jumping in and out of the water, and swimming around the moat.

Here are a few photos from the last couple of weeks.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Yellow Neck Mice

I spent a little time in our hedgerow the other morning, before we were open to the public, and was hoping to get some photographs of our field voles... the problem was the time of day and bad reflections on the glass. It made it very difficult, so I decided to move on to our yellow neck mice and wood mice in the more shaded part of the hedgerow, and where the reflections were more manageable.

These two mice are vey difficult to tell apart just by looking at them, the yellow necked mice do tend to be a little bigger, but from a visual point of view the big difference is their yellow band across the neck... hence their name. I was hoping to get a photograph of both types showing their neck, but only kind of managed with the yellow necked. In fact only one of the photos below is of a wood mouse.

This is the wood mouse. You may be able to see a couple of slight differences, but really it is the size and neck... neither of which you can see from this photo... which shows you it is a wood mouse rather than a yellow neck mouse.

And a couple of field voles that stopped for a second to see what was going on. I will have to try again at a different time of day with these.

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Pine Martens

Our pine martens have been getting a little more active over the beginning of the year as Spring arrives, and Summer nears. Our old pair Bonnie and Clyde are a little less active, but younger pair Drogo (above) and Daenerys (below) have been brilliant.

Drogo is much more acitve in the afternoons, and great fun around feeding time. Daeny is usually out and about all day, and often spends the morning sleeping on the top of here main tree... very easy still for people to see her.

It was only the other day I was looking through some of my photos of pine martens, and realised I didn't have too many of Daeny and Drogo, so spent a bit of time with the pair of them one evening. Hopefully get a few more over the summer when the foliage is back out in colour in their enclosures.

Below are a few more of the two of them...

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 14 May 2019


It all comes around together so quickly... playing otters, dancing adders, and of course the bluebells in the woodlands on our nature reserve. Some very lucky people on our owl days have managed to take full advantage of this, and taken some amazing photos, and over a few evenings a couple of weeks ago I went down to the woods with some of the keepers and a couple of animals to have a go myself.

Ash and Oakley, the two tawnies we hand reared last year from a couple of days old. This was the first time they have been tried out on the reserve, and they were true stars! So much so we are thinking of adding them to our owl days so photographers can photograph two tawnies together. 

So much fun watching these two... One settled quickly and loved every minute, one made it clear he wasn't as happy to be there... can you guess which is which :-)

Athelstan in the bluebells. He is still a newbie to the idea of photoshoots, but was a real pro!.. except wanting to spend all his tie with his Dad Tom, and keep jumping on to his lap :-)

All the hedgehog photos are of Hugo.

One of the tawny brothers on his own above, and Florence below.

Fagin the little owl.

Of course, a couple of Ethel our European eagle owl too.

Thanks for looking :-)

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Dance of the Adders 2019

For those who know me, or who have followed either of my blogs for a few years now, you will know I have a soft spot for our adders. One of the things I look forward to the most each year is the "Dance of the Adders" where our males compete in a beautiful display of strength and stamina over the nearby females.

I have a lot of photos over the years of this entrancing behaviour. When I was first told by one of the keepers that they were watching the adders dance for the first time this year, I rushed up to have a look and take some record shots for work. I must admit, under my breath I was cursing not cutting back the grass a little the day before as I was anticipating them dancing any day. But when I jumped into take a few photos I was soon very pleased I hadn't. I managed to take some photos unlike ones I have before, and am particularly pleased with the first one I have shared above.

Here are a few more for you to see...

Thanks for looking :-)