Thursday, 15 June 2017

Spring Catch Up



Life at the Wildlife Centre has been pretty hectic so far this year, for many a reason. We seem to be getting busier year by year, all good of course, plus this year we seem to have had a boom in babies being born and unusual rescues in need of our help. Staff changes too, with two new ladies joining the office team, and one of our keepers leaving and a new one arriving soon... plus as well as all our usual jobs, the keeping team have been busy adding new things to dead spaces around the Centre for all to enjoy and learn from.

This has all led to my little time for photography continuing, and a distinct lack in a "theme" or obvious order in what I am about to share with you, but I thought you may like to see some pictures of why I have not posted for a while.

A new camera arrived earlier this year, and I have still yet to take it out properly, but I did take the photo of "Leo" above earlier this year with it. 



Wildcat kittens are one of many an animal born here so far this year, and perhaps the most popular with the visitors. Three kittens from Kendra.



One of the youngsters had a problem with the grass seeds and her eye, but mum has sorted it out for her now.



They were born in one of our boxes, very unusual, but within days Kendra had moved them to the den at the back of her enclosure where she usually has them. They are a good age now, where they come out regularly and play along the back of the enclosure.



Not only mammals we have been successful with this year, but also our owls. Including 5 little owls, all of which have homes lined up already... in fact we currently only have 3 waiting to be collected, although we are keeping one of those... Little Dave. You can easily tell which one he is in the photo above... he is the cutest :-)



As well as animals born here, we have had a few rescues arrive that have needed a bit of attention. 2 badger cubs ended up here that were on death's door... stone cold, no sign of life and covered in fleas and ticks. No time to pass on to a rescue centre, we did what we could with little hope, but they survived the first night. Now, a couple of months on, they are both doing really well and look pretty healthy. Hopefully they will continue to go from strength to strength. 







Another rescue, a little weasel found up near Oxford. She arrived a few weeks ago after her mother had been hit by a car, whilst carrying her across the road! Magically this little one survived, and came to us for the extra care she needs while growing an weaning. We have named her Ginny (Weasley), and she will be joined by another weasel shortly who was rescued at a local Centre but is now too tame to release.

Lot's of other new arrivals and births, but you can keep up with all of those stories on our "Keeper's Blog"



Most of my photos this year have probably been taken on my phone, and after 3 years of working with Meg a couple of lapses led to a couple of selfies... still a way to go to match Meg's selfie skills though :-)



And perhaps my favourite photo of the year so far, and taken on my phone, this one of Albus's antlers...



This shows a red deer stag's antlers that have been cast over 5 years, and how they grow larger each year. 

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Hibernating Dormouse


I have been behind at work recently, so lack of time for photography has continued... however I do have a new camera! and so motivation is high to try and get out there and use it. Hopefully as the evenings get longer, and the new seasons arrive.

We did have some filming going on last week here at the Centre though, dormice were top of their list, and we very VERY rarely do anything with them, so I made sure I had a camera on hand to take advantage too.



They wanted hibernating dormice, and we obliged with one... Above in a set we created, later decorated with other bits like oak leaves etc.



Carefully twisting him around so he was facing up...



And then delicately moving his tail to one side so that you could see his face.



Theres only so much you can do with a sleeping dormouse, especially with a film crew around and in the time we limited them too, but I managed to get a few I was really happy with.



Even a little bit of sun came out near the end.


photo by Meg Buckland

And here you can see just how small they are, when in my hand to show the scale.


photo by Meg Buckland

Adorable aren't they?.. The professional sleeper.

Thanks for looking :-)

Monday, 6 February 2017

Little bit of Snow

"Albus Dumbledeer" 

A few weeks a go we had a little bit of snow at the Wildlife Centre... and when I say a little bit, I mean a little bit! Hardly anything at all, just a dusting. In most cases it just looked messy, but I managed to take a couple of photos in with our deer and foxes. Using what white stuff there was, it was possible to "fake" it and make it look like there was more snow than there actually was.



In many ways I am thankful that there wasn't much snow, as it makes working that much harder... but from a photographic point of view it is fantastic. The pure white canvas, and the extra light, really brings the vibrant colours out of the animals coats. 



Just to show you how much, or how little, snow there was. This disappeared by lunch time, and left a lot of visitors very disappointed when they visited us at the weekend expecting to see more.



And a couple of our new boy, Basil, in the snow.



Thanks for looking :-)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Goodbye Bess


A couple of weeks ago my dog, Bess, sadly passed away. She was an old girl, and she was slowly deteriorating with age, but remained happy and comfortable right up to the end. Our zoo vet, Alan K Jones, kept a close eye on her for me over her last few months and was there with me when she finally and peacefully passed away while I was stroking her.

I wasn't going to put a post up about her, and many of your probably never met her, but I know a lot of you have and many of you that don't follow me on Facebook but do frequent the Centre have been in contact... word spread quick, but that is a testament to how well she was known by the visitors.



So, I thought I would just put half a dozen pics up of Bess that I had not shared on this blog before. The top one in the snow is one of my favourites... one that I had not really looked at until the other week, and wondered why I never edited it.

Above is an old one of her not long after she came to me, and before I really took any photos.



This is one from earlier last year while testing out the bluebells for our owl photography days we sometimes do in the bluebells. She was always my stand in owl for scoping out these days, and what opportunities we had.



A lovely one of her fresh out the water before shaking off.



And one of the last photos I took of her, end of last year. She was practically blind at this stage... but still smiling and happy to be with me.

Bess was more than just a "pet". She was my best friend, loyal companion and work mate... really part of the BWC team. Even up to the day before she passed, she was with me at work helping to skin the deer for evening feeds. Bess was rarely not with me, and a lot of people called her my shadow. It has been very strange the last two weeks with out her company, but when things have settled I will be looking to for a new work colleague to join the family.



I realised when our vet told me last summer that it was the beginning of the end, that I didn't have any photos of me with her. I still don't really, not that I mind as I prefer to remember her through my photos and memories, but I did take a couple of pics with my fisheye lens last summer. The above was the best of a bad bunch.

To hear more about her, and how we met, take a look at this link.... Bess

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Ten favourites from last year

"Red Squirrel in Snow"

Happy new year to you all. To start off this year I thought I would share ten of my favourite photos, not necessarily my best, by ones I particularly like that I took last year. 2016 was a slow year in terms of my photography, I took a lot less photos than I usually do due to various reasons, but I still caught one of my favourites I have ever taken... this red squirrel in the snow.

This was a fun morning, we had a dusting of snow here, nothing worth while... but a spent some time gathering up as much as I could off the hand rails in the copse to form this little pile here. Then calling the squirrels over, I was lucky to get one climb on top and look straight at me. Animals in the snow always look good, the contrast of the colour against the white really makes them stand out and look vibrant.



Buster is a real character, one of my favourite otters, and I am yet to have a portrait of him that I really like... maybe that should be one of my aims for this year. This is one of my favourites though from earlier this year, in a rare moment where he stood still for a few seconds.



You know I always look forward to the dancing adders, last year was no different, but looking back I was disappointed with the photos I took. Probably because I am being too fussy, but I have taken some lovely ones over the years that it is difficult to get something different. I am still after a unique portrait though, and this is pretty close to what I have in mind. Sharp head fading in to the background. Bit more work needed on this, but a good reminder of spending time with these lovely animals.



I had to include one from the bluebells. So many to chose from, last years bluebells shoots with the members were some of the best we have done. Conditions were almost perfect, and despite the lack of bluebells compared to previous years, we still managed to get some lovely pictures. This is Aluco, a tawny owl, in the bluebells.



Of course I had to share one of the wildcat kittens again too, a good year for us with breeding them, and this was one of my favourite portraits. One of the kittens at about 5 weeks old.



Not the best photo by far, but a fun one that makes me smile. One of our female polecats, Cassie, with all 8 of her kits causing trouble.



I really like this one of one of our harvest mice being released. It's not as good as my more well known harvest mice shots, but for some reason I really like it and used it a lot last year for work.



Another huge success for us last year was breeding two long eared owl chicks. They are both now mature and flying well in our displays, and it was great fun documenting their growth. This is Leo, fully feathered, just a head shot to really show off the ear tufts and facial disk.



I had to include one of a pine marten, here is Drogo... happy to see us... A will hopefully be a big year for him this year, as we introduce him to a female for the first time. Hopefully next year (2018) will bring photos of pine marten kits.



And finally, one from last week, definitely not one of the best, but definitely one of my favourites. Susie, one of our stoats, is turning ermine... Arguably making here more beautiful than normal. Stoats are one of my favourites, and from Susie arriving a few years a go, I have really taken to her and she is my favourite I have ever worked with. Such a character, and a nice little poser... even if only for a couple of seconds at a time. She is quite a famous little stoat now too.

Anyway, thanks for looking, and hopefully some more photos to share this coming year :-)