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 :-)

Monday, 9 May 2016

Ten Favourites from 2015

"Could it be, the most beautiful animal in the world..."

Someone mentioned to me that I did a post on my favourite photos of 2014 at the beginning of last year, would I be doing the same again?.. Truth is, I didn't remember and never plan posts for this blog. But since asked here are ten of my favourites, which would possibly change if I chose them again tomorrow :-)

Of course, I have to start with a pine marten. Why?.. Because it's a PINE MARTEN! Look how handsome he is!

You may remember that the beginning of last year saw me using a Samsung for a while, this is one taken on the NX1 in the snow. Well, when I say snow, I mean sprinkling of white stuff... not much at all. 

We have a pair of kingfishers on our reserve. At the end of the winter last year, this little one visited our otter pond almost daily for about 2 weeks. 

Didn't do any Spring time publicity images this year, but normally do for the office. This was the one they picked for last year. Complete set up of course, but a pretty picture I think. I like the reflection of hello on the mouses chin. He must like butter... no wait, that's buttercups isn't it...

Arguably my favourite photo from last year, and one I was really pleased with. Got no where in competitions though... not even shortlisted. I love the scale it shows between mother and baby, and the scale of scales :-)

I could of done ten just of the adders dancing. Choosing just one, I went with this just because it is different. Not sure if it is my favourite I got last year, but certainly most unusual. Not seen this behaviour caught on a fish eye lens before.

Talking fish eye. I had to include one of Bess... Here she is in the bluebells last year, taken through a fish eye. 

The most beautiful owl in the world, sadly no longer with us. This is Fawkes, our old short eared owl. A photo I had in mind and wanted to take for a while, and finally got the chance last year. So glad I did so that I now have this to remind me of him.

You know I like colour, so here is one of Hugo in the autumn leaves. Hugo is an absolute star, the best hedgehog we have ever had in terms of photography and education. Hand read as a rescued hoglett by keeper Big Tom.

I have a few snarling wildcat photos, but am still waiting for that one that really stands out from the rest. I have it pictured in my mind, but it takes time, patience and luck. I did like this one though of Macavity I caught at the end of last year.

So there you go, ten of my favourites. Oh wait... How about one more, how could I forget this beautiful image from last summer...

Um, yeah... the day Meg turned the mink pond bright green! :-) I had a very worried radio call to go and see her at the mink enclosure, but when I saw it I just burst out laughing... Needless to say, Meg had a busy day sorting out that little mess :-)

Thanks for looking :-)