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British Wildlife Animals and their Babies

Due to circumstances beyond our control, I was unable to go with David when he went to the British Wildlife Centre to photograph their babies.  It was 10 days later before I was able to follow suit.  I prayed that the weather would be kinder to me than it had to him and as I headed towards BWC, it looked like my prayers had been answered.

I was excited for two reasons. The first and most obvious reason was because I was going to get the chance to photograph baby British wildlife animals; the second reason – this was going to be my first outing with my brand spanking new lens. A Canon 28mm-300mm L Series lens.  I’d been increasingly frustrated by always seeming to have the wrong lens attached to my camera body and thus missing out on some great photo opportunities.  It was my hope that my new lens would solve this problem.

Our group consisted of just 3 people including myself – this worked for me as it meant that taking photos would be a lot easier with better opportunities to get that special shot.  Our first stop was one of the fox enclosures to meet Josh and Biscuit.

Biscuit decided that she wanted to play shy today so Josh ‘man’fully stepped up to the plate to fill the gap.

Fox looking upwards

While we were photographing Josh, our keeper for the day, Laura, noticed that Frodo had emerged and asked if we would like to take pictures of him.  Hoping that his cubs might come out and play, we agreed to move to the next enclosure.  However, we were in there for barely 5 minutes when the heavens opened up. We took cover under a bush, hoping that the rain would pass but it didn’t.  As it became heavier, we realised that we needed to seek more substantial cover.  We barely made it back to the cafe before the rain became torrential.

After about 10 minutes, the weather cleared up enough for us to venture forth again.  I asked if anyone would mind if we visited the Scottish Wild Cats before moving on to see the otters.  My fellow photographers were fine with this so we went to visit Una and Kendra.

So much had happened to the Scottish Wild Cats since my last visit in February.  I had not expected to see Una still alive given her various ailments but there she was, looking better than ever (apart from a healing eye infection).  Kendra, on the other hand had suffered much loss.  She gave birth to kittens in April but due to an abcess in her mouth, she hadn’t been able to bring the kittens in during a cold snap and they had died.  Then, a few weeks later, she lost her mate Lex to kidney failure.

When I saw the pictures that David had taken of Kendra, I had been shocked at her condition.  I am pleased to say that she looked a lot better when I saw her.

When female big cats such as lionesses and leopardess lose their young, the shock sends them back into oestrus.  I asked Laura, if this could happen with cats.  She confirmed that there have been cases and they were hoping that perhaps Kendra might be pregnant again with Lex’s last litter.  Given everything she has gone through in the space of a few months, I sincerely hope that she is.

Kendra is a beautiful and feisty girl and my favourite animal at the British Wildlife Centre.   I will be watching her progress closely, hoping that she has a better latter half of 2011.

beautiful british wildlife wildcat

Meet Lily.  She’s a European Otter and incredibly funny.  Her antics remind me very much of my little Bella.  My favourite trick of Lily’s is when she dives underwater and you can track her progress by her air bubbles.  How sweet is that?

Lily and her mate Oscar are expecting baby otters soon.  Members of my family and extended family will be smiling as they read this and learn the names of the otters….

cute british wildlife otter

I had hoped to get some pictures of the hedgehogs on the grass, but it started to rain again.  Having seen how quickly the light rain could turn torrential, we decided not to take the risk and head back to the cafe for a tea break.  This turned out to be a very good idea.

Hoglet on the log

The rain lasted a lot longer this time but once it stopped, we headed back out to meet Honey, the orphaned Badger cub. This little cutie arrived at the centre in April and has been a huge hit with everyone she meets.

British wildlife badger cub

The rain came again as we were photographing Toby, one of the adult badgers.  We thought we would have to beat a retreat again, but luckily, the shower was short-lived.

I think it’s safe to say that this has been the best fox photography day I have had so far.

British red fox in a field of flowers

During the initial downpour, we had been offered the option to cancel the british wildlife photography afternoon and evening and to re-schedule for another time when the weather was better.  Given the amazing photo opportunities we got in spite of the rain, I’m glad we decided to stick it out.

As for my new lens – I think there was perhaps one single occasion when I was in with the fox cubs that I wished I had my 100mm-400mm lens with me but otherwise, I suspect that this will be my future lens of choice for photography.  The images are definitely sharper than those taken with my 100mm-400mm lens and despite my initial reservations about its weight (it is heavier than the 100mm-400mm), it’s actually ok for me to hold and use.

Many people refer to the 28mm-300mm as the travel lens but for me, I think my 100mm-400mm will remain my travel lens when I am out on safari in Africa or India.  I used a 300mm lens when I was out in Bandhavgarh last year and it just simply didn’t have the range for a lot of the shots I wanted to take.

I’ll be returning to the British Wildlife Centre in a fortnight’s time to see how all the cubs are progressing.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and manage to get some shots of the polecat kittens!

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