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:
July, June, Mar-May, Feb, Jan
Dec, Nov, Oct, Sep, Aug, Jul, May/Jun, Mar/Apr , Jan/Feb
Nov/Dec 2018 and Sep/Oct 2018
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, there will be fewer updates than usual. The wolves are still receiving excellent care from our volunteers, there are just fewer of them on site.
29th August 2020
A breezy and cool morning greeted the volunteers on Saturday. As usual, Torak was keeping an eye on arrivals, doubtless hoping he'd be coming out for a walk.
We started off with the Beenhams, however. They were keen to come out and they powered through the log field, through the side gate and - for the first time in months - up to Ridge's Belt, the copse east of the Trust. As is usually the case with them, they kept up a brisk pace, only slowing down slightly as we ascended the hill in the top field. The sheep are still there and we went past them and down through the "bluebell woods" - the wooded path that runs immediately east of the main thoroughfare through the Trust. This had been tided last week and it all looked rather scenic. The wolves stopped by the stream for a quick drink, then it was off into the bottom field. Again, we zipped round pretty quickly and before long the walk was over, with the wolves back in their enclosure.
A quick break followed, then it was Mai's time to shine. She was also keen to come out and, with Motomo howling, we set off around the bottom field. We went down to the Bourne, but no sooner had we arrived then Mai decided she'd rather go back to Motomo...
Finally, Torak got his wish: we collared him up and took him around the back field. He knew what he wanted: a complete circuit of the field behind his enclosure, followed by a visit to the Bourne. This time he only had the briefest paddle in the stream; the noticably cooler temperatures meant less of a need to cool off. We went back the way we came and as we reached his enclosure Torak purposefully carried on to the other gate, the one that leads out to the top field and the log field. As he clearly wanted to carry on with the walk, we went through and he started towards the log field. However, as we reached there his demeanour changed: he hunched down somewhat, before he turned on a sixpence and headed back for home.
With the wolf walks over, there was time for some maintenance (shovelling bark chippings in front of the Arctics' enclosure, hopefully preventing it becoming a muddy quagmire in winter) and of course the wolves were fed (the usual mix of chicken and beef).
The day finished with a session in with the Beenhams, who were as affectionate as ever (Tala wanting a fuss, Tundra rubbing her neck on the volunteers). Nuka clearly wanted to play and we were eyeing each other as he had a belly-rub. Whatever he was planning though wasn't to be: Tundra became jealous and bowled into him, growling, then when he wanted a second belly-rub session she did it again. Taking the hint, he zoomed off to the other side of the enclosure, shortly followed by his sisters - it was our cue to leave.
Some photos by Eve.
23rd August 2020
Arriving at the Trust today, we were all keen to see what the plan for our day with the wolves would be. Thankfully, the strong winds the last few days had abated giving us a quiet, although humid and relatively dry day.
Being allowed more volunteers at the trust, still observing social distancing guidelines, we are now able to walk all of the wolves. Today was going to be our first walk out with our Arctic wolves, Massak, Pukak and Sikko, since lockdown.
We all waited for our Senior Arctic handlers to encourage the wolves onto their hard standing. Often this turns into a bit of a game, especially for Massak, who’s tail we could see high in the air waving away. After a few minutes, they did come onto their hard standing are were collared up ready for their walk.
With smiles threatening to split our faces wide open, all handlers set off and all enjoyed the walk as much as the wolves seemed to. In the top field, all the sheep gathered by the gate of their field watching the Arctics watching them. They didn’t move away or huddle together and maybe to them the Arctics look like large white sheep. There was a lot of baa-ing and bleating but of course the wolves didn’t answer them...
Throughout the walk all 3 wolves were keenly sniffing around. Sikko was too involved in her environment to make any mischief with her brothers, resulting in 3 chilled wolves. I can’t recall if they all did, but one or two of them found patches of something smelly to roll around in at some point.
We carried on through to the bottom field with the stream before heading back to the enclosures. On the way back through the field we were careful to skirt round the scattered remains of a Muntjac the birds and maybe foxes had devoured during the week.
Having been quite a long walk and already gone midday we had a break for lunch and then went to get Nuka, Tundra and Tala out for their walk. On the way down to the Beenhams, Torak and Mai were looking intently at everyone and observing our activities, clearly showing us they also wanted to come out for walks
Last week the expectation had been the Beenhams on their first walk would be extremely energetic, but we were proved wrong, of course, as they had just taken it all in their stride. It seemed they had saved the energy for today as we all shot off at breakneck speed. I was thankful to be front handling Nuka. For those of us vertically challenged with short legs, being the backup handler can be more tiring as you don’t have a wolf helping you along! You have to keep up and ensure you don’t start dragging the chain causing the front handler grief. We all certainly had a workout for the first 10 minutes or so as they clearly had somewhere they just had to get to. Tala became obstinate going through the gate in the ‘log field’ resulting in us detouring through the freshly cleared path through the ‘bluebell wood’. A few volunteers cleared this last week as we often do go through this pretty wooded area.
Once we were up near the sheep all 3 wolves had returned to a more comfortable pace and then stopped to have a look. This time, all the sheep backed off and were silent! Looks like they realised these guys were not sheep...
On the way back Nuka became reacquainted with the tractor. I thought he was going to try the cab for size but was just content to sniff around and then roll in ecstasy a grassy patch of old diesel fumes! He is very funny to watch as he scoots himself around with his back legs, flopping over to make sure the other side gets coated in this heavenly scent.
With their walk finished we took Torak out who was loitering near his hard standing in readiness. When we got into the back field he headed for the stream and had a paddle. During his walk mid-week, he’d found the Muntjac and obviously hadn’t forgotten where it had been. He had a few attempts at manoeuvring himself to that place, but the handlers were wise to this. He had to make do with licking his lips!
Before we all started flagging, we took Mai out who shunned Motomo’s attempts to stop her and marched off to the bottom field. She immediately found something to roll around on, then took her handlers around the field. We thought we were about to walk up to the top of the field until she veered left and headed for home, back to Motomo. True to form, he was waiting for her, but had to content himself with trailing after her as she ran over to the Arctics to show off.
With time marching on we got on with other jobs. While Torak was out, Craig had gone into his enclosure to remove some tree branches that had got broken during the high winds. Torak was placed in his holding enclosure for the night while his pond was topped up. As a hose has to be left inside, he has to stay out of his enclosure for his own health and safety and for the safety of the hose...
We prepared the wolves’ food and cleaned the tortoises pen, letting them munch on ‘free range’ clover.
We also made up some straw filled sacks and sprayed them with a mixture of oils. The wolves like to roll around on them, which is the only way to get the smells onto them and help deter flies during the summer months. It is also good enrichment for them.
After feeding everyone, we went in with the Beenhams. After some head rubbing from the girls, Tala was the first to run off, followed by Nuka. Tundra wasn’t long after and so, summarily dismissed, we left the enclosure.
Before leaving, we threw the sacks in for them. Tala enjoyed trotting off with hers, rolling all over it and tossing it around.
We all left still with smiles plastered on our somewhat tired faces.
Update and some photos by Eve, Arctic and some Beenham photos by Sarah.
15th August 2020
We arrived at the Trust in mist and low cloud, but, much cooler! Sean and Cammie went to get the Beenhams into the holding area for us to take them out for a walk, the first one since lockdown.
We have to maintain strict hygiene, with no swopping handlers throughout the walk and then having all the leads disinfected after the walk.
The expectation was Nuka, Tala and Tundra would be extra lively and get over excited once out walking. Of course, they were nothing of the sort! All 3 were happy to get out and about and did a lot of sniffing and only some scenting, displaying their regular behaviour. Once we were out in the ‘log field’ that backs onto the Trust, all the other wolves started a howling chorus for a few minutes. The Beenhams looked as if they would join in but Tundra went over to Tala, tail in the air as if to say it was her fault the others were howling and then they all got on with their walk.
The walk took place only on Trust land today, so as to avoid public on their dog walks. During the time out, all 3 wolves came to each handler in turn for a little fuss. We noticed, although in their summer coats now, they are all losing a lot of guard hairs, suggesting they will have glorious winter coats this year. Despite the reduced number of fields we went through, we covered a fair distance and all agreed it was a very successful walk for the wolves and handlers after such a long break. It did feel fabulous to be back out with them.
Once we had decided on what we would do for the rest of the day, we took Mai out who was quick to come up to the hard standing, while Motomo, for once quiet, watched her go. Mai is still shedding her old winter coat and her back and rear were particularly shaggy! The walk was a good opportunity to pluck large handfuls off her and by the time we returned her to Motomo she looked very sleek. We hoped it felt better for her getting rid of all that itchy fur.
We topped up both water troughs for the Beenhams who have half emptied one of them during the week, no doubt brought on by the heat. We brought the tortoises down from their outside pen and put them amongst a lot of lush clover. They hardly moved for an hour, munching away!
While a couple of us prepared the food, the others went to the ‘Bluebell Wood’ armed with shears and the strimmer. It is a short cut through between the log field and Trust the wolves like to walk through sometimes. It was currently impassable due to summer growth and a fallen tree, so now we are walking the wolves, this was a necessary bit of maintenance.
The Arctics were very happy to see us and had a lot of fuss from us all. They are always very exuberant in their greetings to us. Torak came and saw us all, looking stunning in his summer coat and happily ate all his dinner. He has midweek walks as well as the weekends, when we have Torak handlers. Massak, Pukak and Sikko ate all their dinners, as did Mai and Motomo. The Beenhams were a bit fussy today, choosing chicken over the beef. We weigh any food not eaten and log their eating habits. Over time these logs aid decisions on increasing or reducing the amount of food given.
The Beenhams watched us come down to their enclosure towards the end of the day and were there to greet us at the gate into the enclosure. They all stayed with us for the duration of our time in with them today. They were really keen to have the interaction and lots and lots of fusses and ear massages! They were very relaxed and we all remarked on what an honour it is to be accepted by these incredible animals. Most of us received head massages back from them as well!
Finally we had to leave for home - all of us very pleased with how the day had been, looking forward to the next time.
Update and most photos by Eve, one Arctic photo by Deborah.
The Arctics, Torak, Mai and the tortoises