Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hugo the Hedgehog

"Hugo" the Hedgehog

Autumn is here, the leaves are falling and beautiful in colour, so as with most years I found some time to take full advantage and take some photos. I have quite a few pictures of our hedgehogs completely surrounded by leaves, and in amongst dried leaves, so this year used some freshly dropped yellow leaves.

We found a spot just next to our fox enclosure with a patch of grass and some lovely coloured leaves. Not too many, but enough to show a hint. The spot was perfect for a bit of back light too. "Hugo" the hedgehog was the model for the afternoon, and he was a star as always!






After a few autumnal photos, we took Hugo to a clean bit of grass for some very simple portraits... all for the office stock library.





Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 29 September 2017

Weasels


It's been a while... several months in fact... since I got my new camera, a Nikon D500. Work has been so busy though this year with various comings and goings that I have only really had time to start playing around properly with it the last few days. Still a lot to learn, and although it is still Nikon like my other camera, I am finding it hard to get the settings right for what I am after, but still it is a learning curve. Hopefully with time I will get there :-)

Although I have more time, we are still very busy at work, so I have had to do short bursts. Twenty minutes here and there. My first couple of goes were with our weasels, see below, but I have a few of the kittens and our hedgehog Hugo too that I want to share at some point.











Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 7 July 2017

Weasels?


Over the past month, we have had several new arrivals at the Centre... many of them being young orphaned weasels which we have had to rear. A couple have become extremely friendly, meaning we could not release them back to the wild and so we offered them a permanent home here. It also allowed me to try a get a couple of photos I have been trying to take for some time now.

But!.. I hear you cry, those aren't weasels above... and yes, you are right. These are two long-eared owl chicks that we bred at the Centre, from a second clutch this year, which we are currently hand rearing. Well, only one of them now, as the other went down to the West Country Wildlife Photography Centre a couple of weeks a go now. A twee photo, but nice for a bit of publicity for the Centre. 



Aha, some of the more eagled eyed of you may still be saying... But Matt, this isn't a weasel either! And again, you would be right. These pictures above and below are of one of our friendly stoats, Columbus. Hand reared at a local rescue centre by one of our members, Margaret Kidd, and then donated to us to help educate our many school groups.



Columbus is an absolute star, and is often seen out in his hedgerow enclosure, very friendly still and seem to enjoy the attention he gets.

So, finally, below are a couple of photos of two of our new weasels...



This is Ginny (Weasley), who for those who don't follow my Centre's blog, miraculously survived a road accident where her mother was hit by a car while carrying Ginny across the road. The mother died, but somehow Ginny survived. She was bought to us to care for, and has become one of the tamest weasels I have ever known.

I have often explained to people that female weasels are not much larger than a pack of Polo mints, and have been requested for this photo many times, but never been able to take something. But with Ginny as good as she is, was able to finally set something up to show the comparison.

I am very pleased with this photo, but hope to take something better later in the year in some natural light. This was indoors and very dark.



Another new arrival allowed me to get another shot I have been after for some time. Above is Wilfred the weasel, now out in his outside photography enclosure opposite our polecats.

For some time I have been trying to take a full body shot of a stoat and weasel to show of the main visual difference between the two. Difficult due to our enclosures, the size of the animals, and how quick they move, but am quite happy with this one below.



Still a lot of room for improvement, but at least I have a stop gap I can use in the mean time. I will do a post on stoats and weasels in the future when I have the comparison pictures I am after for the pari of them.

Thanks for looking :-)

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 :-)