News just in! Penelope Malby image chosen for RPS exhibition!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that one of my images has been chosen for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition 159. Last year I was absolutely over the moon to have an image selected – so to repeat the experience is just incredible! There are thousands of entries from across the world to be part of this prestigious exhibition and only 100 selected.
This is the image which has been chosen – it’s called “The Madness of an Afghan Hound puppy!”.
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The exhibition is open from the 14th – 18th October as part of the Photoblock exhibition, and it’s at the Old Truman Brewery, Ely’s Yard, Drey Walk, London, E1 6QR. After that the exhibition tours the UK. Entry is free, so please do go along and have a look and let me know what you think!

As well as this exciting news, I’ve been continuing to work with my private clients and shoot some incredible dogs and cats, and also my work with both Dogs Today and Dogs Monthly magazines has been great fun – various types of dogs every month, including winners from the DogFest competition!

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Christmas is approaching and my slots will be limited for shoots for cards – so let me know ASAP if you’d like to book in. Mince pies are included for the humans 😉
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Latest news from Surrey’s leading dog photographer!

As usual I’ve been busy cuddling photographing dogs at my specialist dog photography studio in Surrey. I’m so lucky to shoot for Dogs Today Magazine and Dogs Monthly Magazine.
Here’s a sneak peek at the latest two covers for July, they’re out later this week in the shops.
This is Goya, he’s an English setter who was rescued from Spain. More of his story in the magazine. As you know, I’m rather fond of English setters, so this was a pretty special shoot for me, Goya is utterly adorable and I might have spent rather too long just talking to him and telling him how handsome he is!
Dogs Today July 2016

 

This is Doodee. Gorgeous Doodee was rescued from a meat crate in Thailand.
It seems unbelievable doesn’t it really that people still eat dogs, thank goodness someone rescued lovely Doodee, we had a brilliant shoot, Doodee’s dog parents are such lovely warm people who care so much about their dogs.
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I’ve just done one of the shoots for next month (August), we work pretty far ahead, it’s hard to keep track sometimes, and next week I’m shooting two more dogs for magazine covers as well. Exciting, and one of them is a bit of a social media star too!

I’ve had some wonderful clients here for portrait sessions too, you might have seen on my Facebook page
Last week saw Ralph French Bulldog, Shyla Kelpie and Diva the Dobermann come for a shoot together! sometimes shooting three dogs together can be a bit of a challenge but these three were such superstars it was a breeze!
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In the next few weeks the fabulousness of Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick’s DogFest is happening again, and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be photographing the winners of the doggy Supermodel competitions.  Have a look here on the DogFest website for more info.

Finally, I have some wonderful new framed prints up in my study so that my clients can actually view real life samples of the high quality wall art that I can provide. It makes such a difference when you can see and feel the products, I have some acrylic blocks too and also a superb photo book sample too. Please do get in touch if you’d like to chat further about having your dogs photographed, it’d be my pleasure to meet with you all.

That’s all for now,
Penelope x


Photoshoots with anxious dogs & how to make them feel comfortable and happy.

I’m going to tell you a little about how I work in my studio with dogs who are anxious and nervous. (Generally it’s easier in a studio with an anxious dog as there aren’t lots of other things to worry them and we can control the environment more easily.)

My other job is at Dog Communication, I working alongside my colleague Laura and we’re very used to being around anxious dogs and dogs with social issues. In the case of having dogs into my studio, we only have to worry about dogs liking people (specifically me!) as there are never any other dogs around. (My dogs are always in a different part of my house when I have clients here).

I’m guessing a few photographers are going to read this, as well as dogparents of anxious dogs, wondering if their anxious dog might be ok at a photoshoot.

So here’s how I start. I always ask in advance, when I’m talking or emailing with my client, if the dog has any kind of issues and if they are ok with new people, slippery floors, people pointing a camera at them – and a few more general questions. I should point out that the studio floor isn’t that slippery but to a dog with anxiety issues, it only takes one thing and they won’t want to even come into the room. So if I know a dog is worried, I’ll put some rugs down on the floor. I shut the studio door, and I always have a radio on too.

When a new dog comes into my studio, I tend to encourage the dogparent to let them off the lead and let the dog just wander around, while I’m sorting out the background paper. I generally use a background known as seamless paper, it’s a huge roll of paper, and I have three hanging up on the wall at the back of my studio. I do this fiddling around so that the dogs can watch me, and get used to me moving around them without any pressure. I don’t wear shoes either, so I’m not stomping around. We’re just chatting about the dog/s and I’m slowly moving around the room setting up the background – this also involves me kneeling on the floor to tape down the end of the paper – another easy way for a dog to come and sniff me. I’m always talking in a gentle slow happy voice, and generally just explaining to the dogparent what we’re going to do.

I always have my lights in place before the dogs arrive. Two softboxes, one 36” and one 24”. I try my very best not to move them around once the dogs are there and if I do, I would only move them backwards or forwards – very slowly. With a lot of anxious dogs I only use one softbox (the bigger one, it’s a 36″ octagon). I use speedlights in my softboxes so they are fairly quiet but there is a recharge beeping noise which some dogs might be wary of.

More lights does not necessarily mean better images. Remember, if you’re a photographer reading this, it’s your skill as a photographer that makes the image what it is.

So, the dog is now in the studio, I’ve set up the seamless paper background and my light is in place. I’ve already instructed the dogparents to bring special high value food treats and favourite toys with them. Now’s the time we get the goodies out! With the dog still wandering around the room not in any particular place – we need to desensitise the dog to the flash.

Everyone says “Oh my dog is fine with the camera flash on my camera or my phone” but this is not the same as your compact camera! A big black and white shape on a stand which gives out a big flash, is nothing like your compact camera – or heaven forbid, your phone camera!!!

I purposely do not point my camera at the dog. I point my camera to the floor and fire the flash – and at that exact same moment, the dogparent gives the dog a yummy treat and we praise the dog too. We do this as many times as is necessary until the dog is happy with the flash. With most dogs this is about 10 times on average. Some dogs once or twice and clearly they aren’t bothered – other dogs take longer.

Gradually I move the camera up towards my face, and gradually the dogparent lures the dog onto the background paper. The dogparent always always ‘works’ the dog for me. I rarely get involved unless it’s very quickly to show the dogparent how to get the dog in the right position. I would never physically move a dog anyway and would always lure them into position using food. Always. Remember it only takes one thing for an anxious dog to withdraw and you’ve lost them for the rest of the shoot. So do not rush the process. If you (or their dogparent) push, pull or stress them in any way, you’re done, finito. It will show in the photos too. Better to get 5 amazing shots than 30 shots of a dog looking anxious and stressed. There is no rush. Make the time to do it right.

I’m not going to go over all the ways I get their attention and the poses etc as that’s for another blog, this is just about the emotional response I want to achieve with dogs during the shoot.

Lots of little breaks are necessary, don’t just keep on shooting. Every 2 or 3 shots we’d reward, and maybe every 7 shots we’d stop for a couple of minutes. They might need a drink, they might need to pop outside for a pee, and it’s good to just sit and chat sometimes. I’m going to show you some images from last week’s shoot with Bets and Jerry, two street dogs from Romania. They were very nervous when they arrived. With the help of their wonderful dogparents and lots of yummy treats, within about 40 minutes they both fell asleep on the background paper, which although not quite what we had in mind, was actually really lovely as they were super comfortable with the situation.  We got about 20 awesome images, which is less than I usually get, but I wasn’t going to get these two at all stressed out.

 

Obviously this image below was my absolutely favourite from the whole shoot, both dogs looking to camera looking totally relaxed. (you can click on the photos to make them bigger.)

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Lovely eye contact from Bets in this head shot.

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Jerry also looking straight into the lens, what a good boy.

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Some more images below of dogs who are generally anxious in their day to day lives.

Little Basil was quite a worrier but fine in my studio.

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Vince, below, who gets very worried around people he doesn’t know.

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Anxious Nina the Otterhound, whose Mum was very worried she wouldn’t cope, she was absolutely fine.

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Mavis on the left, not good with strangers usually.  What a star she was!

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Latest from Penelope Malby Photography – front covers, Royal Photographic Society Shortlist and Renaissance session special offer for August.

Two of my images have been shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition so I’ve been fiddling around a lot with print sizes and paper types, trying to be sure which papers suit my two shortlisted images the best.  That’s all finally sorted out now, and I’ll find out mid August if my two images are in the 100 final exhibition images.  These are the two I entered, one shot at Crufts, and one in my studio, both quite different I guess, but both of course featuring dogs!  Which one do you prefer – I do have a favourite but I’m not telling you which one it is!

 

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If you’ve seen the new edition of Surrey Life Magazine, you might have spotted the article featuring myself, and my friends Nikki Weeks-Taylor from Epsom Canine Rescue and Colin Skeaping ex-stuntman! Did you see the cover photo too, the wonderful lavender fields in Woodmansterne, beautiful, but not really a safe place to photograph dogs, because of all the bees – hence why I haven’t taken any dogs there for a shoot. As always, safety is paramount!

 

Two more of my photos are front covers this month as well (I have been busy!), Dogs Today’s August edition and Dogs Monthly September edition – love them both, both super gundogs and beautiful.

August 2015 Dogs Today

 

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This week my three new Renaissance backdrops have arrived from the States! I’ve only done one test shoot so far with beautiful Tilly the chihuahua but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be using these gorgeous backdrops rather a lot. I did have to get the iron out (a very rare occurrence for me!), as they arrived folded up. The images give the impression of a beautiful painting behind the dog as you can see, I’m so pleased with them, I’ve been looking for backdrops like this for simply ages! Keep an eye on my Facebook page to see the third backdrop as I haven’t shot it yet. It’s so rainy here today I might take one of the dogs into the studio later on and have a play.

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I’m going to offer a special Renaissance portrait session for £125 including one 12”x8” fine art print on Museum Fine Art paper 280gsm (gorgeous very high quality art paper), for the month of August only. If you’d like to book a session, drop me an email at info@penelopemalbyphotography.co.uk.

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A year later, another blog, and a new home – a catch up!

Oops it has been rather a long time since I’ve posted here! I’ve been crazy busy, have photographed lots of beautiful animals in the studio, and at various locations.   If you follow my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PenelopeMalbyPhotography, you’ll have seen lots of them I’m sure.  Some puppies, some kittens, some very senior dogs too which is always special to do.  My own Lola is 12 yrs old now, so all the photos I have of her are special.

We’ve also bought a house in Norfolk (http://www.eastrustoncottages.co.uk/property_whitecottage.php) which took up a lot of time at the end of last year – furnishing a whole house from scratch was brilliant fun.  Getting together the artwork was even more fun! lots of my favourite artists feature in the cottage, and some of my photography as well of course!  We have a pretty spectacular view from the back garden!  if you click on the East Ruston Cottages link there are plenty more photos there.  The cottage is really suitable for dogs, no close neighbours, a fully enclosed huge garden, and it’s just so comfy, cosy and welcoming.  We did our best to make it the perfect holiday home for people with dogs.

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This photo of Lola is above the living room fireplace – that’s Happisburgh beach, which is 10 mins walk from the cottage.

I’ve also been working hard with Dogs Today Magazine, and have had 5 front covers to date which is very exciting!

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This is the latest one, the June issue which isn’t out yet!

In March, I shot for two days at Crufts Dog Show, I had a press pass which was brilliant and gave me access to everywhere.  Dogs Today did a 6 page feature with mostly my images which again was wonderful.

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These two were my favourite images I think! the pickpocketing Poodle, and the knackered Borzoi cuddling his Dad at the end of a long day!

Signing off now as I have puppy and kitten photos to edit, and I promise to post more often!

P x

 

 

 

 


The Hares of Havergate.

If you’ve ever looked at my photography, you will have seen that I’m rather keen on hares. That’s probably an understatement, I absolutely love them! they’re special, mythical, precious creatures and any opportunity I get, I love to be near them, observe them, and even more to photograph them. Their impressively large black tipped ears, their incredibly strong long back legs, their snuffly whiskers, and their huge orange eyes – what’s not to like?!


At the beginning of this year, I was watching Countryfile, as you do on a Sunday evening in January, and there was a feature on hares. The hares were on an island called Havergate Island, just off the coast of Suffolk.



So off I went to t’internet, googled Havergate Island and got in contact with Kieran the warden, who gave me further info about booking a trip there later in the year.


Fast forward to today, Sunday the 21st of July – woohoo, Hares on Havergate day arrived! I persuaded some of my photography buddies, Clare, Lee and Mark to come too, and we all set off ridiculously early (545am) to Suffolk. It’s a pretty long drive to Orford, and then you get on a little boat with about 12 other people, and 15 minutes later you’re on the island. There are loads of birds to see, as well as the hares (did I mention there’s hares?!), we saw Avocets, various Terns, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, loads of gulls, and probably loads of other birds that I totally missed as I was on the lookout for my big-eared friends!


So after a quick whizz around the hides, we marched down to the bit of the island where the hares are usually seen – a fairly small area with pretty dense gorse. Straight away we spotted a hare sleeping, ears back and relaxed, eyes totally shut – beautiful. (You can click on the images to enlarge them.)


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Once this hare realised we were there, he or she took off, along with their very well camouflaged friend who was sleeping beside them!


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The area where the hares hang out is really quite small, so we just waited, kept quiet, and gradually we saw more and more. The folk at Havergate said they think there are about 24 hares there at the moment.


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As there are no predators on the island, the hares are slightly less skittish than the ones you’d see on mainland, making them easier to get close to. Not many animals look this cute when they’re having a scratch eh!


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The hares do manage to scoot around in the gorse very easily, of course making it more difficult for us humans to see them. There are a few little areas though where they pop out, and are really quite relaxed as long as you don’t try to get too close to them.


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and finally a portrait. Adorable.
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I had a great day and now I’m going to sleep for ages – well, at least until the dogs wake me up bright and early for their walk!
I hope you enjoyed looking at the pics, and please do share if you’d like to – there’s some button thingies at the top of the blog for Facebook and Twitter.



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Gauchos Doggy Days Out!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing lots of lovely dogs at a special Sunday lunch held at Gauchos Restaurant in Hampstead, London.



Beverley Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today has long been trying to encourage the UK to become more dog friendly, and it seems that Jorge, the Manager of Gauchos Hampstead, is leading the way.


I’ve certainly not seen a more dog friendly “proper” restaurant ever! Usually us dog folk are renegated to the tables outside at cafes and pubs – not the case at Gauchos! Dogs were everywhere, the terrace outside was complete with sandpit and paddling pool, loads of balls and toys, and the dogs were having a whale of a time! I think there were 4 or 5 what I would call big dogs – labrador sized, a couple of sighthounds, and lots of small dogs – bichons, poodles, poodle crosses, terriers, and loads of little mixtures. It was great, everyone was so friendly – as you’ll know if you’re a ‘dog person’ – dog people just chat to each other about anything! Beverley was there, Marc The Vet was there (he of the blue scrubs!) and I also spotted celeb Gail Porter with her handsome labrador.



The dogs were treated to special hand made snacks with chicken and beef inside, each dog had their own personalised water bowl – the special treatment was never ending! I even saw the elegant Galgo given a sheepskin to lay down on as the floor was a bit hard for his angular limbs!
This month’s event was fundraising for The Mayhew Animal Home a brilliant rescue based in North London. Each month Jorge raises funds for a different charity – again, another little thing that makes the event even more dog friendly.


I met so many lovely people, and so many sociable dogs – and I’m hoping to go back again and photograph the next event. Who knows, it might become a more common event with the rest of the Gauchos chain, and more restaurants too – let’s hope so!



A slideshow of the images I took is below – please contact me if you were at Gauchos and you’d like a copy of a higher resolution image. Please share my blog with your friends on facebook and twitter too!

 

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Huffin’ and puffin!

Last weekend ticked off one of my photography bucket list entries – puffins!


Myself and two photographer buddies decided ages ago to make the trip to Skomer Island in Wales.


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To get over to the island, there’s an 8 minute boat ride (after a long queue to buy a ticket – it’s a bit of an antiquated system!) – the image above is people waiting for their boat. Only 300 people are allowed on the island each day, so there are 6 boat trips over, and 6 boat trips home again (48 people on each boat). You can stay on the island but you have to book months in advance and it’s very very basic. As we were driving down to Wales, we had a text from a friend telling us that one of the boats that afternoon had hit sunk….just what we wanted to hear… not…!


Skomer is one of the few UK nesting sites for Puffins – it’s remote, it’s steep, and at this time of the year it’s smothered in bluebells and pink campion. The smell is heavenly. (You can click on the pics to make them bigger).


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As the boat nears the island, you start to see puffins – everywhere – flying, swimming, diving into the sea, perched on the cliffs… it’s amazing and feels like a scene from Jurassic Park!


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Puffins are most definitely the cutest, most comedic birds, in the whole world. Really they are. They are absolutely hilarious, they look so serious as they go about their business. They sort of hum to each other, it’s a kind of bonding thing – as they’re making their nests and burrowing away. They use old rabbit holes, and fill them with comfy nesting material.


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They think that Puffins mate for life, but they aren’t really sure. Most seabirds do apparently, so it seems likely that Puffins do. It’s a nice thought though isn’t it, and this clicky clacky beak thing they do is ever so sweet.

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This display too, is fascinating to watch. It feels like a ‘I’m taller than you therefore I’m more important and should have the better burrow!’


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The group interactions are great to watch, group behaviour when a gull appears overhead (much like a Dementor from Harry Potter) – the puffins take off en masse, flying off the cliff and not returning until danger has passed. They don’t have many predators – but the gulls and birds of prey are pretty scary if you’re a puffin the size of a milk bottle!


Puffins fly surprisingly fast. I expected them to be bigger, and to fly more slowly. Taking photos of a small chubby little bird that flies really fast, is very very difficult! It took me ages to get the hang of it and I’d still like to practise some more.


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I’ll have to write another blog with the other birds we saw – the list includes Razorbills, Oystercatchers, and we were thrilled to see some of the Short Eared Owls that live on Skomer Island.


It was wonderful to be out in the wilds watching nature do it’s thing. Skomer Island is a special place indeed – if you ever get the chance to visit you must go! Finally a few more pics….


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I have a feeling I’ll be going back next year….


A Sunday stroll.

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I had a lovely walk with a friend this afternoon, on the heath where I live. We often go out at this time of year to spot the adders, but today it was quite breezy so they were not in their usual places. The weather has been so awful lately I’m wondering if the adders have been affected by it – I saw my first one on Feb 20th, but have hardly seen any since then.



You can click on the images to see them bigger.


Clare did spot a pair basking together, pretty hard to get a good shot though as they were tangled up in the bracken. If you have dogs, keep well away from dry brackeny sunny areas as the adders love these places. And if your dog does get bitten by an adder, get them to a vet ASAP as it can be very serious.



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The skylarks are back in full force, singing their hearts out all day long from sunrise to sunset. Adorable little birds, I absolutely love them. They have a wonderful vertical take off and a divebomb landing, and can stay high up in the sky singing for minutes at a time. They are ground nesting birds so it’s best not to walk across heathland but stick to the paths in case you tread on their nests. Look at their little mohawk feathers!



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Within a couple of minutes of seeing the skylarks, and the adders, I looked up into the sky and there was a buzzard soaring high above us. I guess the thermals were great for flying today, it was nice and warm for a change!



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I think this is the same bird that I photographed last summer, as it it has the same notches out of the tail feathers.



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what a treat! We carried on our way, and I heard long tailed tits calling, we saw a couple but I didn’t manage any shots of them. But then I spied a shape in a birch tree in front of us – the kestrel! I see the kestrel regularly on our dog walks but haven’t seen it when I’ve had the camera ready.



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It stayed there for a couple of minutes then flew off into the woods.



What a great walk, we were only out about an hour and saw some of my favourite creatures. On our way back we were passed by this gorgeous hound, a beagle but more of a working type beagle really, more like a harrier hound.



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I’m hoping the weather will improve now and things will start to warm up and we’ll see more wildlife.



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A subzero day out!

Yesterday I joined some photographer friends and wrapped up warm, we went to the British Wildlife Centre. If you’ve not been there and you live near Surrey it’s well worth a visit. As the title says it’s all about British Wildlife, and the centre is visited by lots of local schools. The BWC are also involved in captive breeding schemes and have been very successful in particular with water voles that they re-release into the wild.



Talking of water voles, we were lucky yesterday that this little guy came out to say hi. He was having a nibble at some greenery whilst standing on the frozen pond!



Don’t forget you can click on the images to enlarge them.





The herons have started to hang around again, and will be thinking about nesting soon. The sky was very grey, it snowed a little, but I managed to get this shot of one flying past.





The foxes were in fine form, and were very active and happy to pose for photos!








The otters gave us a laugh, Matt the head keeper made them work for their food a little, throwing it into the water. This guy thought he’d have a game with his snack, flinging it up into the air and catching it again, very cute to watch. All the keepers at the centre are really knowledgable about the species they care for and they’re all happy to answer questions.





Here’s Matt the head keeper (also a fine photographer) feeding the polecats. They’re hilarious little animals, and cling on to Matt while he’s feeding them.





I failed to get any good shots of the red squirrels yesterday so I shall be returning again soon, the centre is open at weekends from March onwards.



If you’ve never been, do go, it’s a great day out – later in the afternoon they fly the owls too which is excellent. A bit too cold yesterday to hang around for that though! The BWC is very child friendly, and has a good cafe with a huge woodburner that helps you warm up!



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