Updates

What are the wolves up to?

Further photos and updates are available on the "UKWCT Friends" Facebook group.
(Please note: the group is not an official UKWCT site; opinions and views posted there may differ from those of the UKWCT.)

Previous updates are available: August 2019, July, May/June, March/Apri , January/February, November/December 2018 and September/October 2018

Beenhams

28th September 2019

A blustery day

An overcast and breezy scene greeted the volunteers as they arrived on Saturday. Wind can unsettle the wolves and that was the case with Mosi; even Torak was prowling around more than he usually does.

We took the Beenhams out for their walk and they rushed around as usual, not especially bothered by the roars and whooshes of the wind. Tundra scrabbled around in the hole in the top field and unearthed some diesel; she subsequently anointed herself by rolling on it. Nuka, meanwhile, found something much less savoury to roll in and for the latter half of the walk you didn't need to look to see where he was - you could smell him coming! There were no surprises for the wolves or handlers this time, with the exception of the log field. Tundra and Tala hopped up onto the log itself, where they used to pose for photos back in the day. Nuka, not to be left out, bounded up as well, which prompted Tundra to have a squabble with Tala. The results can be seen in the gallery below!

With the Beenhams' walk over, we then went to see if Mai wanted to come out. She was eager to and the route we took went past Mosi and Torak's enclosure. Mosi had been feeling a bit under the weather (it's a side effect of the medicine she's on), but soon perked up at seeing her sister strutting past! She engaged in some fence-running, while Mai calmly showed what she thought of that in a rather smelly manner. In the wild, wolves will scent-mark their territory with urine, saving faeces for more conspicuous areas such as junctions along trails. Mai demonstrated this well!

Mai then went on a long walk, at least by her standards. Aside from a single howl as Mai was led out of the enclosure, Motomo was silent: he could keep an eye on her from the eastern side of his enclosure. Mai went down as far as the Bourne, but then decided she'd had enough, turned around and powered up the hill. Although we kept a fair distance from the enclosures, Mai's walk hadn't gone unnoticed - aside from Motomo, the Beenhams and the Arctics all came over to the edge of their respective enclosures to watch as we went past. Mosi engaged in some more fence-running as we returned, then we let Mai back into the enclosure. Motomo was waiting expectantly, but as usual Mai ignored him and made for the corner by the Arctics instead. Seeing Mai on her walks reminds us all of how much she's changed over the years; it's hard to believe this confident wolf was once a shy, nervous youngster who would sometimes jump if the wind blew in Pennsylvania Wood, back when we used to walk her there.

We prepared the wolves' food (their usual chicken, beef and paunch) and there were a variety of outcomes: some wolves, such as Sikko, literally wolfed it down. Others, such as Mosi and Torak, had some food but then wandered off to bury some. We take that as a sign that they've had their fill, although even then they show their opportunistic nature: Torak, having wandered off to bury a piece of beef, had left a small piece behind. Mosi grabbed it and ran off to bury it out of sight.

With the feeding completed, we went in with the Beenhams. Nuka, after a quick "hello", wandered off to his favourite corner - no games today. He still reeked! His sisters stayed behind and engaged in their usual neck-rubbing and snuffling: Tala, it seems, likes the deodorant I wear and will try and stick her head up my sleeve. It doesn't fit, suffice to say. After a good stroking/rubbing/fussing session. the wolves then wandered off and that was our cue to leave. With the breeze still blowing, we said our goodbyes and headed off home.
Mosi and Torak
Arctics
Arctics
Mai

Torak

22nd September 2019

We all gathered in the obs room upon arrival and discussed the weather forecast for the day, as storms and heavy rain were due.

Needless to say the heavens opened as we set out with Massak, Pukak and Sikko. Some of us were suitably attired, while others only had sweatshirts on. They became completely soaked rapidly.
The wolves were quite slow today with Massak a little nervous. We suspected this may have been due to us wearing jackets and hoods. We worked out they haven't been walked in the rain for about 6 months and have forgotten what we look like all dressed up! Massak dawdled at the back, which had an effect on Sikko who started squeaking and waiting for her brother to catch up with us.
We tried bringing them over 'the bridge'. Sikko was straight over but her brothers would not follow her... We all went back through to the other gate instead. There is no point in trying to cajole them over it. In time they will.
Everyone, including the wolves enjoyed the walk and of course, once we were back indoors, it stopped raining.

We all dried off and had a drink before venturing out with Nuka, Tundra and Tala.
They were keen to come out, being nice and calm, sniffing along the route where the Arctics had walked and scented!
Needless to say, not long into the walk the rain came down again! Nuka still wanted a belly rub, so we ended up with muddy hands as we just can't refuse him.
Tala spent a while digging furiously where the tractor had been standing, rolling around in diesel fumes she literally unearthed.
All 3 enjoyed their walk, occasionally shaking off the rain and Nuka enjoyed licking rain from the grass as he walked along.

After the walk a couple of us gave the tortoises' pen a good spring clean and put their heat lamp on as the nights are getting cooler. We left them munching on their new food.
Meanwhile food for the wolves was prepared with a lot of banging as today was mostly deer that had to be chopped up.

We had a quick drink and then went into the Beenhams' enclosure for a while. This turned into a long session! Nuka came bounding over in a playful mood but calmed down. After a while he trotted off to see what the Arctic wolves where up to. Tala and Tundra managed to share all of us without Tundra trying to tell Tala off, both giving us vigorous head rubs. Nuka came bounding over, full of mischief, but quickly flopped over for a fuss. He puts his front leg out and hooks our arm in as if to say just there and don't stop until I say so.
As time was getting on and more than half an hour had suddenly passed, we reluctantly left them and decided to see if Mai wanted a quick walk. She certainly did and marched her handlers all round the field behind the enclosures. All the other wolves moved to the back of their enclosures to watch her progress. Mai, with her tail high in the air, storming along, certainly exuded her high status at the trust, being the only wolf mother. Motomo kept a close eye on her and we did hear the occasional mournful howl from him. On our way back her sister Mosi bounced around in her enclosure hoping for some reaction from Mai who just stalked past her.

We then got onto feeding them all. We had to throw the deer pieces over the fence and enjoyed watched them all tucking in, not necessarily with the pieces they started off with...
By the time it was time to leave the sun was shining of course, but we left with big smiles on our faces as usual.
Update and photos by Eve.
Mosi and Torak

Mosi and Torak

14th September 2019

Fun in the sun

Saturday was a bright, sunny and warm day, more like summer than autumn. As everyone arrived, plans were drawn up for what would be a full day of wolf activities.

The first event, as usual, was taking the Beenhams out for a walk. They're starting to grow their winter coats and their tails have become noticeably fluffier - they always look a bit like bottle brushes in summer! The wolves had a leisurely walk and this time Tala won the competition for "worst smell", having rolled in something truly stinky. Towards the end of the walk the route happened to take them past Mosi's enclosure and it's here that you're given a swift reminder of the fact they're wolves... Tala was itching to get to Mosi and the feeling was, I suspect, mutual. There was much grumbling and Tundra decided to join in too, just to add extra spice. Once we'd got past the enclosure the wolves returned to their usual stoic selves and we completed their walk without further issues.

We went to see if Mai wanted to come out. She did, so we had a short walk through the very pleasant "bluebell woods" - a path amongst the trees that border the area immediately east of the Trust. We went along the log field where the Beenhams used to pose, then across the new bridge. At that point Mai decided she really wanted to get back to Motomo and she set off determinedly towards him. She was duly delivered back to her packmate and Motomo would have been pleased to see her. As with last week, Motomo was able to keep an eye on her during the walk and he didn't howl as much as usual while she was out.

Mosi and Torak were next on the agenda. Mosi is on medication to reduce swelling on her left foreleg and it's been zonking her out somewhat. The dose was halved by the vet last week and the results have been good. Mosi came out for a short walk with Torak and showed a good deal of interest in the various sights and scents around the back field, including wanting to go down to the area where we had badgers some years ago. She set a brisk old pace and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The wolves then had their lunch, which for a change was largely comprised of venison and rabbit. This went down well with the wolves, as did the "ice lollies" they were given. These were blocks of ice with bits of meat and eggs mixed in, as well as some blood. The air was filled with the sound of scraping and chomping as the wolves worked their way through the ice to the treats within! As a bonus for her, Mosi was given one of our hessian sacks filled with straw and various scents - she enjoyed that, too.

There was time for some upkeep of the site, which included some pruning of over-enthusiastic shrubs and trees adjacent to the enclosures. The wolves' bedding was replenished too, much to Mosi's intrigue (she stood and watched throughout as the sweeping and straw-laying took place).

The last bit of the day was going in with the Beenhams. Tundra did her neck-rubbing trick, Tala tried to sneak in some fuss and attention without Tundra noticing and Nuka, after saying hello, flopped on his side for some belly rubs. As I was stroking him I could see an orange eye watching me out of the corner of my eye. Suspecting he might be plotting something, I carried on rubbing him and he raised a leg or two to allow better access. Torn as he was between fuss and fun, he eventually succumbed to the latter. All of a sudden he was up on his feet and "bop" - another round of his "Jack in the Box" game. He then settled down for another round and this time it was Eve who was the recipient of his (gentle) "bop". Well-satisfied, he ran off with his entire rear end wagging! I've a strong feeling he was trying to get us to chase him, but of course we couldn't.

Tala and Tundra stayed around for some final fussing, then we headed out and then on our various ways home, no doubt reflecting on another fun day.
Mosi and Torak
Arctics

Pukak

8th September 2019

This morning we arrived to brilliant sunshine and a decided nip in the air.

The Arctics were taken out first. They were quite excitable most probably due to not coming out, which had been their choice, for some weeks. We soon warmed up as we marched around the fields enjoying interacting with all 3. Sikko in particular had to greet everyone more than once. Sikko also enjoyed rolling around in very pungent deposits which we all had to enjoy the aroma of throughout the walk.
All of them started dawdling as we got close to home on the return to their enclosure. They suddenly become intensely interested in single blades of grass and then slowly amble back towards their enclosures. Once back inside they had a drink and then went over to show off their smells to Mai and Motomo who were loitering with interest to see what they'd been up to.

We were all in need of drinks and some sustenance so stopped for half an hour. We also spent quite a while making a fuss of Mosi and Torak who didn't come out today. We all commented on seeing all the wolves' fur starting to thicken up, another sign the seasons are changing.
While we had some lunch, I took the tortoises outside for their 'walk' which always causes a few chuckles. They like to roam around the grass munching on clover leaves.

Then we were off out with Nuka, Tundra and Tala who dashed off at a pace, keen to check out all the smells the Arctics had left along the way. We stopped for some fusses briefly as they were keen to keep going today.
On the way back, they all went over the new bridge without giving it a glance and then we headed out to the field behind the enclosures. We had a stubborn moment where they all looked longingly at the other wolves watching them! They are always keen to show who's boss which can keep the handlers' on their toes. We let them stand their ground for a short while and then encouraged them to move off, rather than letting them feel they have the upper paw and head over to the other enclosures for some feisty interaction.
Once back in their enclosure we saw them go to the waterfall for a drink. We decided to take 5 minutes to cool down and have a drink ourselves as the day had warmed up!

We thought we'd see if Mai wanted to come out and she did. Defying her 13 years she charged off around the big field behind the enclosures. By going this way, Motomo can see where she is and I didn't hear him howl as he usually does when she's on a walk.

After, food was prepared for the tortoises and wolves. The tortoises were put back inside now as the nights are getting colder.

Today's wolf menu was paunch and rabbit. We enjoyed some great interaction as they all laid claim to each other's rabbits and fiercely guarded them. To be up close at the fence with Massak vocally warning Pukak to leave his rabbit alone is a remarkable experience. His growls seem to vibrate through my ribcage!

We decided to go into the Beenham's enclosure and see if they would be interested in us rather than the rabbits. Initially they all came over with Tala reluctantly abandoning her rabbit momentarily. Nuka came bounding over with an exuberant facial expression. He is the only wolf at the trust that has this face! Mindful of not humanising them, I can't help feeling he is smiling like an overexuberant and mischievous child.
Tundra, who had some remnants of rabbit on her face, enjoyed sharing this with some us during the customary head rubs... Instinct to guard food soon kicked in and they all ran off. We left as Tala reclaimed her rabbit and Tundra left her to it. Despite being the alpha, she knows not to try and take Tala's rabbit from her! Nuka had decided to not get involved with any rabbit ownership and wandered further into the enclosure. Maybe he'd stashed his out of the way somewhere... Sensible...

We all departed wondering how the time had passed so rapidly, all very happy to have such a great Sunday with the wolves.
Update, photos and video by Eve.
Beenhams, Mai
Arctics, Motomo