Wednesday, 26 August 2009

rain and puppies

Well if today was the tail end of Hurricane Bill, he was a bit of a wimp! We had mizzle on and off all day. Managed to get many of the birds flown, although the wind stopped the less experienced ones and the Kestrels. The forecast is for good weather ALL bank holiday - a bloody miracle!! And hooray, just what we need.

Arabis was buried with all due honours, the other dogs came and several people have put flowers there for her and Lupin. Now I have to organise or do a stone for them. The wood where all the dogs are buried is due for a lot of work this winter, thinning out, clearing and planting of wildflowers, it should look better next year.

Its amazingly autumnal already, some of the trees are already turning, I don't mind autumn coming in September, but not in August - doesnt seem right really. I have to say that autumn is probably my favourite season, I love the autumn evenings when the light is sometimes so golden you could cut it with a knife and the early frosts on the grass in the mornings, and the mist rising from the grass with all the cobwebs covered in dropplets of water that gleam. A place without seasons does not allow you to appreciate all the different aspects of the countryside. I love the changes and am hoping for one of those autumns with bright days and crisp nights.

I have a small person on my lap as I write, the newest member of the family, Sedge, he is a six week old Patterdale Terrier, and is pretty cute, although I do not like that word. And he still has puppy breath which if you are not a dog person you will not appreciate, but if you are you will understand!

Theft the sister of Deception, the Yellow billed Kites went loose yesterday and has forgotten nothing, its good to see her flying again, the two of them are first class and I hope to breed some more next year. Dawn Run my female Lanner is looking like she will be very very good if I don't screw her up and Fortina the peregrine just made mince meat of the wind today, she was having a great time.

Here is hoping for a great Bank holiday
Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Arabis has died................ or to be more accurate Neil Forbes was kind enough to come all the way over from Swindon to put her to sleep. She was so ill, Simon brought her back yesterday and she was far worse than when she went on Monday. She stayed in the office with me all night, we both had a tough night and in the morning we did the right thing. But its so hard..........

We have dug a grave in the wood, the bloody ground was like iron and it took hours. Someone said use the small digger that is here, but that would have been cheating. You have to dig the hole. We will bury her this evening with all honours, she is next to her aunt and other relations and Lupin, her mother is going to go with her.

Lupin died in South Carolina, and I buried her there, but I was damned if I was going to leave her alone in the US when we all came back, particularly not at the mercy of the people working on the site so I dug her up and brought her home. She was cremated to come home and has been waiting to go into the wood with the others, so now seems as good a time as any.

Arabis is lying in the cool in the hall, its a beautiful day, she has flowers and a piece of toast and the box with Lupin with her. The other dogs have been to say hello, and goodbye, and so have the staff, bless them. We will bury her after work this evening.

It was Arabis who when we buried Lupin came over to the grave just as we were finishing and for several moments pushed more soil onto the grave and pushed it down with her nose. It was also she who when she lost the puppies in the US carried a toy around for five days and then buried it. There is much we do not understand about our dogs. I will miss her.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

dogs and birds

I have found that when one of the dogs is sick it is difficult to concentrate on anything. Arabis has been going downhill for a while now. We took her for an MRI scan yesterday, but she was not well enough to be anaesthetised, so she stayed in, has been on a drip to push up her blood pressure and will be ultrasound scanned today. I only hope that it is a problem that is fixable. Dogs do not live long enough as far as I am concerned, they give you so much over their lives, are always there and make the best of companions, but it is so hard when you know they are getting to the end of their lives with you. I have lived through it many times and it never gets any easier. Although I would not give up having them as my best friends just because I know they are short lived, but 12 years is not enough.

The birds are well, we are getting some nice flying from some of the young birds. The new owls have been a little troublesome, but we are getting over that. One thing we have discovered, we used to keep the baby owls in an open topped play pen on the lawn as they grew, as we got more organised we had aviaries instead. This makes it easier and nicer for them, but it means that they are not as used to things flying over their heads, so pigeons become really scary to start with. So we have put the five baby snowy owls out in a pen to start with to see if it makes a difference.

The wild Common Buzzards are a scream at the moment, they keep coming in when Hard Tackle the Indian Tawny Eagle is flying. He has been superb this summer, several very very high flights and stoops, but he has been stooped at, played with and generally chased by them. To start with he tended to drop away from them but now he just ignores them. Its amazing although he is not a large eagle how small the buzzards look against him. It has been a pleasure to watch them having fun and I don't think he really minds.

Cool Ground the new Snowy Owl is turning out to be superb, he is starting to do circles and really is a joy to watch, it bodes well for the owl evenings this autumn and winter. They are going to be exciting.

The new window is in Charlies room and hopefully the door through to the cafe will be by the start of Sept, so we will be able to utilise that room more. The refurbishing of the small falcon block goes on apace and the difference between the newly done enclosures and the dilapidated ones is amazing.

And lastly we took out the two kestrels that Alasdair and I trained last year, they are doing very well, have moulted beautifully and look stunning and should be flying free again in a day or so. The only slight problem being that I am damned if I can remember what we called them!!
Monday, 10 August 2009
Well blow it, you have no idea how difficult it is to edit posts, I could not work it out, had to delete and start again.

My sister and I have been discussing the shop here at the Centre. She thinks and I agree that we need to redesign it. So if any of you out there have skills or friends with skills in shop design, can do it for free and will not cost an arm and leg to fix. So let me know!!

I managed to pour tea all over my TV remote control last night - what a pain, it would not work for ages. And trying to work out how to do the TV without the bloody remote it impossible.

Birds did well today and the work that Adam did on the hedges with Tom is great. Natham is mowing the field again and it is starting to look less like a hay field now!! We got one of last years baby kestrels out today for training, but I can't remember what we called it, he looks stunning in his adult plumage

Eagle Home

Hooray, Malachite the Tawny Eagle is back, we decided that after work on Sat we would just stay out until we had got him. So six of us left at 8.00pm, we got a signal from the telemetry - Marshall telemetry is SO good- and started walking, he was much further away than anticipated so after negociating the first deep stream, and various fields full of very curious cattle, it was almost dark. We found him the other side of the second stream, of course needless to say we were on the wrong side, so having found a tree that had fallen we scrambled over that in the dark and finally two fields away the telemetry took us to the tree and we could hear his bell. There was a house close by so before shining a ton of torches of him and making the locals suspicious enough to call the police I went up and called across to them and by sheer chance they had spent the day at the Centre and knew the eagle was missing. They very kindly took a couple of us back to our cars, which were a two hour walk away by now (and two streams!), and then when we had got them back, they lent us a ladder. The eagle was sitting quietly but the ladder flushed him out, we kept the spotlight on him and everyone pelted after him in the dark!! He landed by a hedge and Adam rugby tackled him - hooray!! He had lost 75 grams so we gave him fluids on his return and fed him little and often and he seems no worse for his four days out!!

Arabis is still not well, her eye is about the same and she is not the happy dog she was, but I hope the various treatments will make a difference soon.

Otherwise all the young birds are coming on nicely, the baby Snowy Owl is very exciting and looks like being a star in the Owl Evenings this coming winter. The birds did very well at Gatcombe Event this weekend and the weather was amazing.

Adam is cutting the hedge at the bottom of the garden, I wonder if I should tell him its not quite even!! Perhaps not! All the staff have been amazing and are working very hard, I wish I could win the lottery and give them all a bonus - ah well maybe one day..................
Friday, 7 August 2009
Hummmmmm tough few days, the x&&****xz Eagle is still out, day three and we are all tired of scrambling through barbed wire, nettles and other crap to keep up with him, I won't tell you what his name is at the moment, it is most definately unrepeatable, I hope we get him back soon as he is costing a lot in man hours. He was in a perfect place to call down early this morning, but about seven horses came careering up and off he went again. He should extremely hungry by now, but there is little sign of it I have to say.

Arabis is still not well and it is very stressful seeing her feeling bad, we have changed the treatment and I hope that will make her feel better as I could do with being less stressed about her.

Have Gatsombe Horse Trials tomorrow and Sunday, which is great, its a lovely site and I hope that the birds go well. Hard Tackle - the older Tawny Eagle did a wonderful flight today, up at 1500 feet or more and a superb stoop back in, I hope the audience appreciated what they saw, it was stunning.

Other than that a lovely day weather wise, just a lot of stress with missing eagle and sick dog. I am sure things will ease up soon
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Its been a stunning evening, the light on the Centre was low and long and warm and summerly, it was a joy to sit in, despite the fact that there is an eagle not on its perch, but in a damn tree next door!!! He has been sitting there since about 4.30pm and it is now coming up for 9.00pm, I have just waved yet another bit of food at him and he is not interested, so he will stay there for the night!! It means an early start, but I suspect knowing most Tawny Eagles that he will not want to be an early riser anyway!

Cool Ground, the Snowy Owl was amazing today, showing tremendous promise, I think he will be very exciting to watch, particularly if we can get him going well for the Owl Evenings. The other birds went well today as well, and my female Lanner went loose as did another of the Peregrines. Although Bay Middleton was great fun on the introduction to the dummy rabbit. He flew straight at it but then could not pluck up the courage to catch it, I suspect it will be a couple of days before he will go straight to it, but it will be fun trying!

Otherwise a good end to the day.................................................


Well blow me its august, and where exactly is the promised weather. I wrote a letter recently to the board of directors of the Met office about the weather reporting and at the end I put please dont write me a letter full of platitudes, guess what I got!!! Not one reply about the problems I had pointed out. Oh well you have to try. Got the same crap from No 10 too!!..

Arabis is still not right, I tried to ask a question on a website that had interesting vet problems, but it did not work. She is a little more cheerful but a long way from the dog she was. I hate it when they get old and slip back, dogs don't live long enough.

The young birds are all doing well, had it not been for the rain yesterday we would have had a couple more loose, but the new Harris Hawk is called Bay Middleton and is a sweety and flying very well, had his first trip round the field yesterday in a lull in the weather. Perhaps today we will be able to get them all flown again. But despite all the grey weather the view out of my window is enough to give one heart. The greens are vivid, there is a rabbit on the lawn, some of the trees are thinking about autumn colour and there is a tinge of yellow to their leaves, which contrasts superbly with the copper red of the beech trees. The evening primroses are a paler lemon yellow which leap out againtst the dark green of the hedges and the house martins and swallows ignore the weather and just carry on.


I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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