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Update from the Reserve – June 2020

Written by: Stewart Borland
Published: 30th June 2020

Picture a sunny and quiet Nature Reserve, with no visitors and plenty of wildlife. Sounds fairly relaxing, right? Well, it sure isn’t! This month has been particularly stressful for the Reserve team, and though wildlife is thriving, there has been an intriguing case that has kept the team very busy. From missing and finding Hope, to better wildlife news, there’s a lot to cover in this update. So, continue reading to find out more!


Don’t Lose Hope

Hope, our hybrid Scottish Wildcat, in front of the trap
Buckle up – this is quite the story! It all started a couple of weeks ago. Shannon and Stewart usually take turns on the early or late shift feeding the wildlife in the Reserve, so Stewart gets to feed our beautiful hybrid wildcat, Hope, every other day. As she is now rather accustomed to human presence, she has grown quite confident and curious, and will often be close to the gate when there’s food around. On this particular morning, Stewart didn’t see her – and whilst it was unusual, it wasn’t alarming. Not long after, Shannon took some pictures of a Scottish wildcat by the Welcome Cabin, and again, this isn’t particularly unusual, since a previous male Scottish wildcat hybrid has been neutered, released, and can be often seen around the Reserve (though Stewart thought it looked an awful-lot like Hope).

The next time Stewart went to feed her, he noticed that the food Shannon had left the day before was left uneaten. Now, alarm bells were ringing. Stewart promptly gathered the team, and they thoroughly inspected the enclosure. No Hope to be found, and instead, there was a significant hole cut in the fencing. It was time to rally the troops – Hope was missing! The team set up a SpyCam by the decking along with some food, and soon enough, a thinner and ‘rough around the edges’ looking Hope was lured.

The following 4 to 5 days were an unbelievable trapping exercise: traps were set around the Reserve, and each trap was inspected every few hours due to animal welfare concerns. And though she is a cheeky and smart cat, eventually she was caught and released back into her enclosure, which we have captured in a series of clips. You can watch the video here – we’re all breathing a sigh of relief, and we bet you are too!



A Much-Awaited Visit

Red foxes playing in the snow
These unprecedented times have greatly affected our lives, even in the smallest routine changes. Due to the imposed COVID-19 lockdown and the ban on non-essential travelling, Stewart hadn’t been to the Mountainview Nature Reserve in a long time! After a lovely visit earlier this month, Stewart came back with plenty of SpyCam footage to review – and so many of the clips show lovely and snowy landscapes, which was surprising after all the sunshine we’ve had since.

Some of our favourite clips include the first 2020 Red Deer calves and the most amazing clips of a pair of adorable red foxes. It’s important to note that these clips were worth the wait, and so is waiting for the Reserve to officially re-open when all restrictions have been lifted. The Reserve is still closed to visitors, as it should be, and we urge you to respect the official local guidance and don’t visit. Instead, stay safe and healthy.



On Their Best Beehive-our

Swarm on beehive
As you may have read in our previous Mid-Month Tails, this has been a fabulous year for bees in general – and our own beehives are also as advanced as they have ever been! Luckily, we have managed to avoid swarms so far, but Webster Honey, the organisation that helps us with our hive checks, hasn’t been as lucky. A swarm happens when a new queen appears due to a hive becoming overcrowded, and the old queen and a bunch of working bees split from the original colony, and they go on the run. Fortunately, in Webster Honey’s case, they hadn’t made it too far!



The Undercover Heroes

SpyCam Example
So much of the content we bring you relies on footage caught by our cameras and SpyCams. On this Reserve Update alone, you can see the amount of times we have relied on these little pieces of technology, not only for your entertainment, but also as means of security and surveillance of the wildlife. They are quite a big outlay for us, and after the unfortunate situation with Hope, it’s clear we have to invest in more. So we thought it was a good opportunity for some crowdfunding – if you appreciate the footage we bring you and would like to contribute to the Reserve’s security, please consider donating, if you can!



Clip of the Month: Eating and Enjoying Life

Cagney & Lacey, the Nature Reserve pigs
With Hope hogging the spotlight this month, we wanted to feature our special ladies as this month’s clip. Here’s Cagney & Lacey, who seem to be doing a lot better, doing what they do best – eating and enjoying life!


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Written by: Stewart Borland

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