Monday, 30 November 2009

It has been a cold day, particularly in the wind, which is from the north, but it is dropping now and we have a bright bright moon, so bright it is hard to see the stars. It was one of my favourite sky, that clear pale cold blue going to dark velvet that you can almost touch, with the trees outlined in black before it got completely dark, a perfect night for an owl evening – shame we are not having one until Saturday!

The brick laying is moving on, enclosure cleaning is zipping along, all the birds got flown, we put the female Hobby back in her pen for the rest of the winter, she seemed pleased – she has three males with her! One is due to be trained in the spring and released if he can fly well enough. The weighing room had a good clean out and tomorrow is the turn of the clinic, so we are all up to scratch for our inspection. Although I have to say that we are really only touching up things. And if the same people who inspected it in the last two years come, they should notice a huge difference, in fact I am amazed that if it was inspected in the last two years, it was passed, because I sure as hell would not have allowed it to do so!

I am washing my falconry bag in the washing machine tonight, I am not sure it will survive the experience; I hope so because I have no idea where my spare one is. We were discussing washing (and socks!) and washing up at coffee time and Adam pointed out that if stuff did not come off in the washing up then it would be unlikely to come off when you were using it to eat! And Holly said she hated it when you put the cereal spoon in your mouth and felt a crusty bit underneath – and I was worried about my habits!!!!!!

Sedge was a scream yesterday, it started to rain quite heavily at one point and he was ambling up from coffee with Acer, well he took one look at Simon and Acer and decided he was not waiting for them, he high tailed it at full speed up to the shop, he shot past me at full tilt and raced into the shop, cornered on one leg round the side of the counter and made it to the fan fire in seconds – he does not like bad weather! Acer trotted up later – she is a Labrador after all said and done.

Today was our last day for the year, and we were very quiet – in fact no visitors! Now we are closed until Feb 1st, it will be a good break for all. In the past I have had people say, ‘oh do you all go away’ and I have been so tempted to answer ‘yes, we just lob a couple of whole cows in each aviary and leave the birds to it for two months!’ You will be relieved to know that I have not said it and we don’t do it! We have fed up the two kites and Lammerlaw so we can concentrate on just the young birds. The owls will be flown until December 20th and then they will rest. This will give us more time to get jobs done.

All the young birds are in the Indoor Hawk Walk for the first time, there is a cold night forecast, our first serious frost according the weather people, so they are snug and safe. The moon is moving out of sight of my office window, I have lit the fire and Sedge and Nettle are sharing it. Acer has my arm chair and Rush and Indigo are on the sofa. The world is moving round and taking us with it.

Sunday, 29 November 2009
I am getting SO pissed off with websites that refuse to have any details on how to contact them, as far as I am concerned if they don’t have a contact phone number or email, there has to be a very good reason – i.e. they are a crap company. That aside, I find that I am getting more like my mother, which is in some ways a good thing as she was a wonderful person, but I am sure that all my family would admit that her housekeeping was vague to say the least. And I think it is that respect I am following. Now let me hasten to add that personally I am very clean – bath at least once a day, and sometimes more, always clean underpants, although the top layer can be a little grubby, but then so is much of what I do on a daily basis. Socks are another matter, none are white after the first wearing, none stay up in wellies, and all can only take one wearing a day. Although I don’t follow Holly’s philosophy – the way to tell if your socks need washing is if they stick to the wall when you throw them at it!!

However when it comes to washing up for example, it would be fair to say that I am abstemious! Well the washing up liquid lasts a very long time anyway, I have this theory that as the water is hot as hell and everything seems to come off OK, that will do. It’s the joy of living alone. And I can’t understand why jam does not last longer, you would think that it is a preserve and so would last for ages, but no, you have friends to stay and you had better check the jam before getting it out of the larder or they might not be impressed with the blue furry stuff on the top! It scraps off fine, but some just don’t appreciate it! You may have guessed that I had jam this evening – and surprisingly it was fine.

This was our last Sunday open until February. I look forward to being closed because it means that you don’t have to stop jobs in the middle to go and do a flying demonstration at a set time. We try to get all the birds flown first thing and then settle to jobs for the rest of the day, although it rarely works out that way, but the idea is good. It also means that apart from Owl evenings up to Christmas everyone has the weekends off, so they get a Sat and Sun, a more normal life as it were, one of us does the feeding in turn, and I get to write books I hope. Or treat of treat – watch Sunday matinee – do they still have Sunday matinee I bet they don’t, it will be some bloody football knowing my luck!

But oddly once the beginning of the year is over and everyone is back from the Christmas break we sort of look forward to being open again, seeing friends and having a regulated day. Today we – Adam, Simon, myself and Steve, Jim, John and Josh got a lot done often in the rain. We finished clearing the whole of the Hawk Walk paths plus other areas. Painted the front of the second last enclosure in the Kite block, so we can move the Brahminy Kites, finish the last enclosure and move out a pair of Red Kites, which means in turn we can tidy up the moulting enclosures. The Steppe Eagles and the Hawk Eagles need nest sites and the rest need perching and bath ledges re done. Then it’s the finishing of the Owl Courtyard and the redoing of the enclosures at the end of the Hawk Walk. Not much really!

We also have a zoo inspection this coming week, not that I am concerned, we are amazingly up to scratch considering what it all looking like a year ago. I am really hoping my bloody car will be fixed tomorrow but I am not holding my breath. We managed two out the three demonstrations before the weather beat us and we had customers even in pretty vile weather. All in all a reasonable last Sunday, we close on Tuesday.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Well, I have just tried to download a piece of music from various bloody impossible websites, but to take the biscuit is the ITunes one, which then goes to Apple, well blow me, if you think you can contact Apple forget it, I went round in about fifteen circles and I rarely give up, but this time I did. I was going to send them a stinking email telling them what a crap website they had – and they do, so if anyone is talking to them, tell them from me, it’s a crap website, as for trying to send them an email aaagghhhhhhh!!

Its been a hard couple of days, yesterday the weather was lovely for most of the day, interesting we had awful weather and customers all week until Friday when with good weather we had no one! Ah well, we got a lot done. Adam and I put about 25 wheelbarrows of sand into the five flying owl enclosures, whoever invented the wheelbarrow was a good chap. Although on that subject, I have to say that I wish males would not always try to use a machine to do a job that can perfectly well and more quickly be done by hand. Mike Turned needed bricks by the enclosure at the end of the Hawk Walk that we are rebuilding. You just put bricks into a barrow and push them over and unload into small piles so he can get them as he moves along the row. But no, the hand fork lift was tried first to move the whole pile of bricks, which did not work, then the huge barrow which weighs a bloody ton before you fill it with bricks came into play, and when half full it took about three people to push it! By which time if the normal barrow had been used the job would have been finished in half the time!!!

So I moved the bricks in the normal manner and was the cement mixer for the day as well, my mixer is a joy to start; I wish the other tools started as easily. We flew all the birds and the only thing I failed to do was get the Indoor Hawk Walk raked. We had an owl evening that night and the weather held and the owls flew superbly, however I was glad to go to a warm bed, I was pretty stiff by the end of it!

Today we had five people from Iceland on a hunting day so Adam and Simon took them out, and I did all the demonstrations. Three of our wonderful members upgraded to Life Founder Members which was a fantastic surprise, and means I hope that we will really be able to do all the drainage and make the paths better in January, at least I really do hope so. I managed only to get the birds out, fly most, and hoe and rake the lower path in the Hawk Walk, but Sedge was a great help with the raking and pushing the wheelbarrow, although I do admit that he is much easier to push around in the barrow than Rush is! I do wonder about raking leaves, it seems like such a waste of time before they are all down, but if you waited until then you would need stilts to get around. Most are down now, it is only a few of the oaks that are hanging onto remnants of leaves, and my sycamore in the field has four left! It stayed dry the whole day, but cloudy and by the time I was doing the last demonstration I noticed that the cars coming up the road had their lights on! It was a thing I ended up with one of the owls. As our hunting team left in the dark it just started to rain and I breathed a sigh of relief that we did not have an owl evening this evening.
Thursday, 26 November 2009

There is a clean and clear sunrise today, although there also are many heavy and dark rain clouds around. I wonder why rain clouds don’t empty, I have never understood that, there must be a point when they are no longer saturated and so don’t rain, when does that happen. I would love to know more about that sort of stuff. The trees are starting to take on that stark look that they have over winter once the leaves have gone and they are outlined against the sky. My snowdrops are starting to push up, which is early. These days everything seems early, I guess its global warming. A part of me misses the cold of winter, which we have not yet had, but it is much kinder on the birds so that is a bonus.

Once the ground dries out (if the ground dries out!) we have a ton of brashings from the hedge to move and dispose of and a load of logs that will eventually make for good warming fires in the house once they have seasoned. But right now everything is too wet to get on the land and move. I suspect our bonfire night which we postponed is going to stay postponed for a bit as the ground is unpleasant to walk and stand on for fun! But at least for the moment the wind has gone, that will upset Fortina, she loves it!

My car is still sick, I hope someone can find out what the hell is wrong with it, I miss it, and having only one vehicle makes life a little tricky. I should have brought back the old truck I bought in South Carolina, but that was yet another item that the centre over there stole! Plus it was a petrol guzzler anyway, and would have been interesting to drive on our lanes here!

We are brick laying today, I think I might have a go as well, I am not very fast at it, but I used to be able to manage it.....................................

Well did I brick lay, nope, not sure what I did apart from get extremely wet, and help jess up the two luggers, who are now sitting quietly on their new perches, their primaries are not 100%, a little tipped, but that is to be expected I guess having been in an enclosure since March. But I am pleased they are up on their shelf perches before its dark, that is a good sign and means they are out of the cold and secure.

It really has been a pretty unpleasant day, even I admit it. Colder than it has been and with heavy heavy showers. Poor Mike managed to get most of the lower wall laid, but it was not fun!

John and Peter, a new volunteer, finished putting up all the nest boxes in the small falcon/owl block, brilliant!. It is so nice to see all the smaller owls now housed where they should be with decent perches, nest boxes and a bath ledge. We just have to organise food drawers and we will be sorted out and back where we should be Actually we are even a little further on, because we have a much better and smarter stand off barrier and Zoomesh on the front, so it is much lighter in there and easier to see the birds, and it has a new roof!
Simon and Josh moved birds around, Hard Tackle my best Tawny Eagle will not moult out with other birds as company, he is a bully, probably because he is more than old enough to breed. He was in an aviary in Barn 2 on his own, but he was next to the breeding pair and he is quite vocal. Now my breeding pair have not bred since we went to the US. The aviary design was poor over there and when one pair of birds bred in a line, none of the others did. We really need them to breed and Athena has been coming back to her normal self and so we are hopeful, but I was concerned that with Hard Tackle shouting, he might put them off, so we switched him with a pair of Bateleurs, who needed a proper nest ledge and more space and they are now next to a second pair of Bateleurs and their vocalisations might encourage one another. The Booted Eagles were moved too, its good that we have a replacement male now. So here is crossing fingers that they all want to breed like mad! I would love to fly a young booted eagle, and I really want some more Indian Tawny Eagles as they make the best of demonstration birds if you train them correctly.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Yesterday I had to go to Newent, and I went to our butchers and by chance they were cutting meat off the large leg bones of cows. The dogs love these bones and they are safe for them to eat as they don’t splinter, plus they are really good for their teeth. And I am lucky, all the dogs are very good with food, they will always let me move them, or take the bones away, they really are a dream. So it was with interest that I gave them and the two puppies bones this morning. It was without doubt the most peaceful morning I have had, not a murmur to be heard, and…….. both the puppies were good about having the bones touched, moved and removed, even Sedge, who I did have my doubt about. He now has eight adult teeth and Acer lost four of her baby teeth yesterday, so she has a huge gap in the middle – it looks very cute!

The blokes got the last of the foundations done and Mike then got all the lines in for starting the brickwork, it is starting to look something – hooray. Robin and John and Kieran started on putting up the new nest boxes in the small falcon/owl block, they got four up and the owls were moved into the aviaries. We carefully designed the boxes with steeply sloping rooves so that the birds could not sit on them and put droppings all down them, so imagine my dismay when the barn owl male was happily sitting on the top of the sloping roof!!!! Grrrrrrr!! However I suspect once they work out that they can go inside they will prefer that option. I am very glad that we are getting on with this, I am always worried if the birds don't have all they need, and these look great I have to say, what a team!

Holly got birds flown and cleaning done, Julie and Sue got all the mats in the Hawk Walk cleaned and whoever said that astro turf is easy to clean is either insane, doesn’t clean it properly or has never done it. It even says easy to clean on the back of the stuff which proves that whoever wrote it has never cleaned it. I have always maintained that it is a nightmare to clean and I am right!

Simon and Holly took the eggs from the Indian Eagle Owls, poor love she was so wet and the eggs were very grubby – she should have used her nice new nest box. Amazingly the eggs are all running and Simon has put them in the incubator. Poor Simon, he has not had much respite from babies and eggs this year. I am hoping the Indian Eagle Owl will recycle in the nest box and we will allow her one baby to rear.

I think I achieved things today, but I would not swear to it. Still one thing done is a move forward and I should not forget that. The two new Luggers arrive tomorrow, which I am looking forward to, I have come to the conclusion that I actually like training falcons more than most other species, I guess because I have flown so many and because it is a challenge to get them to fly well to the lure. It is however a more difficult time of the year to train young birds, with winter coming on, the leaves off the trees and the weather a little difficult – to say the least today! Although we did have a very nice school party who were a pleasure to take round and fly birds for, I did laugh quietly to myself as I saw them paddling in the big (huge) puddle next to the flying ground, with Indigo helping them!

My fields are saturated, and the water run off is impressive, however at least we know where to put the drainage when we start it in January.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Its been a day of bits, and serious wind. Howling through the trees and the wires that bring our electricity into the buildings, its quite an intimidating noise. We started and three quarters finished the concreting of the footings for the replacement aviary at the end of the Hawk Walk. I will be very glad when it is done and the Hawk Walk is secure again, I hate the open end, which it was not designed for, and which makes me feel that the trained birds are not as safe as I would like.

We did manage the first flying demonstration, but after that we decided that the wind was just too strong to fly the birds with any degree of safety, so Holly weighed and fed everyone and got them all safely tucked up for the night. Robin, Kieran and Adam mixed concrete and barrowed it, I helped on occasion between other jobs. Mike dug the foundations, I had forgotten how good he is with a digger, it’s a pleasure to watch. Sedge thought he could help with the digging, but was banned as a liability! Acer thought it was more fun to push the sides of the trench in on the newly laid concrete and Indigo just put a paw in to carry on the tradition of no concrete being laid on the place without a Labrador paw print in evidence! All the foundations are dug, the hard core is placed to back fill once the brickwork is done and the spare soil has filled in the sunken ditch in the wood and Adam and Kieran even managed to spread it out. Poor John stuck with the cleaning up of all the remaining timber, the pile is reducing slowly. Glen and Jane cleaned baths and raked more bloody leaves. Who would have thought trees have so many!!

However they are close to all gone now. The sycamore tree in the field just has a trimming of leaves left looking like a strip of lace at the bottom of a ladies skirt, the rest of the tree is bare. Only a couple of Oak trees have leaves remaining and the Lime tree is fast losing his, then winter will really be here. Having said that, with all the rain and the wind, it is still warm, almost no frosts and still mild. Many of my plants are thinking about getting new shoots, which is not a good idea.

I phoned the chap from whom I bought my poor male Lugger falcon to see if he had a male left. He had had no interest in the young and had both a male and female left, brother and sister to the fox killed falcon. So we came to a good agreement and they are both coming down on Thursday. We will train them both and fly the male for a couple of years before putting him in with Maya. She had better like him after all this effort. Hopefully the female will replace Dawn Run as a good flyer.

I just love the spell checker on this thing, it gives hilarious options for words that it does not know, but sadly does not give the option to teach it!
Sunday, 22 November 2009
An interesting day weather wise, it started looking lovely, but that was a flash in the pan! Then it rained, and then more clear skies, and so on throughout the day. The rain was more like squalls, they were fast and furious and the ground is saturated! In one of the sunny spells I took some photos, its so odd having roses still out and flowers at the same time as winter berries.

But it was generally not a pleasant day so I lit the fire to cheer myself up, and an early bath is called for too I think.

During the 1.30 demonstration when I usually fly Fortina, the wind got up to serious proportions and everyone came out to see her fly, she did not let us down, my goodness she is a spectacular bird, she just cuts into the wind, climbs and then turns down and I have a hell of a job to get the lure away, and she is just having such fun. She is barely puffed when I call her in. I hope the customers that are seeing her do this understand and appreciate just what they are seeing.

I am also very pleasantly surprised and pleased with Gazelle, he is the Lanneret that I had from Martin last year. He was very steady and good last year but nothing that special. Now he is a year on, and I am reminded of what I often say, but have not experienced in the last few years – the young birds take time to get really good, and he certainly proves it. It will be interesting to see if his baby brother of this year does the same.

We had a good crew of volunteers and the nest boxes for the small falcon block, which includes a lot of the smaller owls too, such as Barn Owls, Tawny Owls and so on, are getting close to done. I will be relieved when they are up, all the owls are in the right place and the Owl Courtyard is finished. Although I was very pleased when Adam discovered that we had carefully put away four rolls of Zoo Mesh, which means we can do eight of the enclosures in the Courtyard, and it just makes such a difference to the look of the place.
Saturday, 21 November 2009

Yesterday was one of ‘those’ days and I was so ratty by the end of it, it would not have been a good idea to put fingers to keyboard, well not and keep a business going! Today is going to be much better! Although I have to admit that it is a little grey and dismal outside my office window, and its raining, which makes life a little tricky for the experience day today – it’s a falcon day and that is always more difficult in the wet. We had an experience day yesterday and an owl evening and the same today and that makes for a long and tiring day. This was the fullest owl evening so far, and the mulled wine was one of my best, though I say it myself. The owls did themselves proud and Robin did most of one of the guided tours which I think he enjoyed. Holly flew Oath (Ural Owl) who was excellent, all of them are really getting the idea now. I do miss EJ Gallo though, she was a bad tempered Barn Owl, but flew circles beautifully and I have not managed to get another to do that yet. Eager, (Long-eared Owl) does his wing clap inside – it looks really weird actually, most ungainly, but I guess when they do it up high on display it is spectacular, it certainly is audible!

Dave managed to finish the hedge yesterday and tidy up a number of other trees in the field and Danny’s Wood. Of course now there is a huge pile of stuff to burn and it doesn’t want to! So as the forecast is pretty dire for the next few days, we will let it season before trying again. We are worried about the young Yew tree in the middle of the field, it does not look well and a number of my trees have died for no apparent reason, which is concerning. Perhaps they missed me! With the help of Nick and Jo and Matt, we managed to get all the first cuts from the huge Leylandii hedge over to the bonfire for our fireworks, which is supposed to be tomorrow, but looking at the forecast we are going to postpone it – after all, the rest of my work has to be done whatever the weather, but a celebration? That needs to have at least reasonable weather.

So actually I guess we got a fair bit done yesterday, with the experience day, the bonfire, the hedge, I managed to rake the Hawk Walk in between times, we did three flying demonstrations, and the owl evening – hell no wonder I slept well!

However today rain, rain and more rain, it stopped by about 9.30 and we did not get it again straight away so we were able to do some of the Experience Day in the sort of dry, but by lunchtime it had set in, so we just carried on!! Fortina did brilliantly in the rain, as long as there is wind she doesn’t give a damn what it is doing! Common (lanneret) was drenched by the time he had done three catches for the falcon day course. The poor chaps on the course carried on until 3.40 and then we gave up. Steve and Jim got painting done in the third of the Kites aviaries and Simon has both Vulture nest ledges made and ready to go up. I suspect the carpet on the edges is not going to last long knowing them.

The rain let up for the owl evening and actually it turned out to be a pretty good evening, the people were nice, the owls flew well, Cool Ground (snowy owl) did brilliantly, much better than his first night and only the new torches did not live up to their promise. Two long days though…….. I’m for bed and a book.
Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hedging and more hedging

Gosh I am tired this evening. We decided that as the forecast for tonight is hellish and we were pretty short on extra people today that we would not do the foundations for the replacement aviaries, that is now scheduled for Monday. David Kenworthy and his brother came and started on the huge hedge behind the small falcon block, which is that vile Leylandii. We are reducing its size considerably to make it more manageable. However we also had 50 MHP gusts of wind today and we really did have them too, it was incredibly windy at times, and that side of the property gets the full force of the prevailing wind.

But to add to our need to get the thing sorted was the fact that we are having a late bonfire night celebration for staff and volunteers, on Sunday. And we need bonfire material! And it was planned that those trees would be it! So Dave and his brother cut down enough for a good bonfire, plus we had the old fence from round the outside café area, Simon, Josh and I moved it into the next field (thank God for dumpers) and then Dave and his brother went over to the beech hedge between the flying ground and the sheep field and tackled that because it was less into the wind.

So we have been moving branches pretty much all day, and my arms don’t even want to type right now! We did manage 1.5 flying demonstrations, and the birds did amazingly considering the gusts of wind they were dealing with. Needless to say Fortina loved it!

Sedge kept going all day, Acer faded and went to sleep mid afternoon and even Rush was tired by about 3.30pm, but not Sedge, oh no, he just keeps going, and I have to tell you that having a terrier hanging onto large and heavy branches that you are dragging across a field is not helpful and by the end of a long day is not even amusing! Poor Matt who is on work experience was tired out by the end of it all, so we sent him off to help Holly fly a couple of owls late afternoon as the wind had dropped considerably by then.

Simon went to feed the owls and Sedge and I almost finished one side of the hedge, I gave up before the last few pieces, mainly because the fire was not burning that well. Beech does not burn as well as Ash that is for sure. As I walked out of the field with Sedge we stopped to say hello to a couple of trees, the Lime Tree is just starting to lose some of its leaves and so the canopy is less dense. There is something magical about standing directly beneath a tree that you know, looking up through the leaves to a darkening sky. Definitely to be experienced.

I can hear a bath calling......................
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

This morning I spent some time with Jerry, from Explore Gloucestershire, he is helping us with our marketing for next year. Marketing is not my forte and I can never remember who I have advertised with, plus the marketing market is changing so fast that it is hard to know where to shout about our presence. One thing is for sure though, we need people to know we are out there. I really want to advertise on Classic FM, but I doubt I can afford it!

While he was here we checked the ICBP presence on the Forest of Dean Tourist website. Apart from the fact that we were not where we should have been (so I phoned and sorted that out PDQ), they have symbols for what you offer, lots of symbols. Well I have no bloody idea what the symbols mean, so I clicked on the thing that says they are explained. There is a list as long as your arm and I was very disappointed to see that I was not listed as Gay Friendly. Not that I thought there would be such a category, but I will have you know I am very gay friendly, probably more so than children friendly if they are not well behaved ones! Whatever next one asks oneself………….. I told Jerry if he goes for symbols I am going to leave his company!

We had an emergency drill today, we have been racking our brains to think what emergencies we might have to have a drill for. We had a fire drill today, someone rang the bell and we all trooped out to the collection area, which will be the flying ground. Jan said she wanted to go to the car park but we said she couldn’t, and Mike said he wanted to go and rescue his van if there really was a fire! The dogs were impressed though. But what other things could we have…….. earthquake!? Well I asked the staff 'what about an earthquake?' They said – panic and run like blazes, well actually that is not quite what they said, but it was close. Loose Condor - definately panic and run, apart from me - she likes me!! Hummmmmmmmmm, what else, we could not think of anything.

Otherwise it was windy as hell for most of the day, we got falcons flown but little else. Mike and Paul finished off the fence outside the café, so it just has to be power-washed and stained (black will you believe!) and it is done. 16 nest boxes are near completion in the workshop. John and Kieran had the horrid job of cleaning up the last of the timber from the quarantine quarters, still not finished and it is a vile job. Kelly and Neil did leaf raking, leaf raking and more leaf raking and guess what – there are more to come. I did marketing, flying birds, moral support, design of nest box fronts, and clearing the soil from the old/new personnel door to the west of the shop, moving some of the soil to the wall by the café and the rest carefully spread out behind the wheelie bin. It is not finished but will be good when it is done. Oh and I took my range rover back to garage number two to see if he could fix it. I want my car back!!!
Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Last night, because my back was a little sore I decided to have an early bath, so there I was reading my book enjoying the bubbles and I heard a noise, on the top of the steps leading down to my bathroom was a robin (male!) standing watching me. So I got out dripping, grabbed my very old and tired towel and tried to catch it, not a chance, so as it flew out, down the hall and down the stairs, I decided to get less wet and catch it to let it out later. I knew there had been something in the house because there were bird droppings of the non raptorial kind in the downstairs loo, plus some rather interesting mud that I knew I had not been responsible for! I got dried and sat down on the bed to finish my chapter, but to no avail. Back he came into the bedroom, nosy little so and so! I gave up the unequal struggle and got dressed and spent about ten minutes trying to catch him without having to go for a net. Finally after several stubbed toes I got him and released him out of the bedroom window, I can only hope there was not a Tawny Owl waiting outside.

The oak tree in the field outside my office window positively glows in the morning and evening sun at the moment, the leaves are orange and against the emerald green of the grass and the blue sky it looks wonderful.
I have discovered that Sedge is a serious heat hogger when I light the fire he is literally almost in it, but now it is milder again and I really can’t justify lighting one (nice though it is!) he lies under my desk as close to the radiator as he can get!

I have been doing my favourite thing on and off today, which is achieving two things at once with one job. There is a large build up of soil where we used to have a staff gate from the car park, and because we are replacing the fence in the wall outside the café there is a dearth of soil where we have removed plants, so one is complimenting the other. And as I push my wheel barrow up and down, with help from Sedge which is not a problem and Rush which is rather more so, I can hear one of my favourite autumn/winter sounds, the plinking noise that our blackbirds make, it is a tremendously evocative noise………………

Its now dark, and the wind is hissing around the house, it’s a nice noise. Robin and I have just gone through the Zoo Inspection Pre Audit Form. I am not good at forms, firstly I rarely conform and so don’t fit the answers, secondly on this one you don’t get the chance if you fill it in on your computer to put more than so many words and thirdly I probably should not do it after having a large glass of sherry! My sense of humour comes more rapidly to the fore and some of the answers just beg to be put in a way that tomorrow I suspect I will have to change – shame really!

I had to go to Ross this afternoon as we are down to only one tin of dog food, and that will never do. So I went in the van (great!) and got 48 days worth of food and a new handle for the Mattock, also known as a pixie in Cornwall and quite my favourite tool, and a new wheelbarrow for feeding round – a dedicated wheelbarrow, not to be used for any other purpose! It was a successful trip
Monday, 16 November 2009
Every time someone else uses my computer the screen changes and it really pisses me off!! I know it is not their fault, but it is really annoying and no one ever sees it but me, it has taken me about five goes to get the bloody thing back to what is normal for me.

However we did have fun last night playing with the Weblog and putting stuff on it, I love my fish – don’t feed them too much with your mouse, they will get fat!

I was very disappointed yesterday, Dawn Run who sat down early in her career three times has been really good for the last two months and flying really well and showing good potential, I liked flying her and was excited at what I thought she might do. But apparently once a sitter always a sitter, and its like my car, once they let you down once you just don’t trust them again. About four days ago her weight was up and she sat down, so I dropped it a little, and flew her again, and yesterday, there was no doubt about it, all she wanted to do was sit in trees, and she did so about four times, so that is it, she is fired from the flying team, she will go into an aviary and hopefully breed at a later date, but we have a long wait as she is not even a year old damn it.

Casper – the white bird – is coming on, he still flies in a baby manner, but he looks so great in the sky, its interesting for me to fly a bird that looks like a Gyr as you can see just how well camouflaged they are against a cold grey sky, its amazing how different they look from the darker birds. Fortina is going to be brilliant if I don’t lose her, and the other three lanners are coming on, although nothing special as yet. However Gazelle who is Common’s brother is flying very well and much further away than last year, which is good to see.

It must have rained like hell last night as my small lake in the field was a positively huge one this morning. We decided not to do the foundations for the replacement aviaries as the weather forecast was bad, so we started on the replacement fence around the picnic area outside the Café and I have to say that it is going to look OK. We have used a fence that was put up while I was away and I took down again, so it is good use of materials, and once it has been finished, power washed and stained black surprise surprise, it will look very good. Angela says she is going to come in and volunteer during our closed period and she is going to plant herbs in the wall there by the café for them to use in cooking, and woe betide anyone who picks them – she has a very sharp knife!

If all goes well Simon is back tomorrow and in fact I think we have all the bird staff in on the same day, which could be a record, maybe I will have the day off………………….. or perhaps not!
Sunday, 15 November 2009
What a change from yesterday, a stunning day, although we did have a very quick rain front whip over during part of the 1.30pm demonstration, but we just ignored it and carried on! It has been as warm as a spring day, with the remaining leaves on the trees looking a warm yellow in the low light. At the bottom of my fields, next to the pond is a maple tree which in the autumn goes a glorious red. When you stand below it, the shape of the leaves resembles stars, the sort you drew as a child, so with some on the bright green grass and some still clinging to the tree with blue sky behind, they look just wonderful. It’s nice to know that apart from the very mature trees here, I planted all the rest, it’s a good feeling.

We managed to get most of the birds flown, and Adam and I have started to take the young male Steppe Eagle down to the flying ground, not a lot is happening when we get there, apart from whoever is carrying the bird ends up with an aching arm! However it is good for him to go down and get the feel of the place. Greaves, the female Kestrel really is coming on nicely now and is hovering well on a still day or a windy one, which is very satisfying. I wish we still had Sole, my albino Kestrel, I do miss her, she was without doubt the best flying kestrel we ever had, but nine years was not a bad age for her.

The wild Tawny Owls are calling like mad at the moment, even during the day so I suspect that there will be young Tawny Owls around very early this year. I only hope that we don’t have that same very cold month that we had last year. It was bitterly cold when I got back here at the very end of December, and that will not do young owls any good.

The Kite barn now is half done, we have replaced the weld mesh with Zoomesh, which is wonderful stuff and looks sooooooo much nicer, clad all walls so there is no studwork showing which is also so much nicer, and put up nest ledges and new perches, the kites seem to be impressed!! I certainly am, only half to do now. And we have started on replacing the old aviary at the end of the Hawk Walk so that we can have the fences up and the trained birds more secure – it is going to be a job and a half, but will look great when finished.

Saturday, 14 November 2009
Well the weather women were right, it was a little windy last night and today. I don’t have a rain gauge, but I do have a way of telling how much rain fall we have had. In the flying field there is a dip and if that dip has a puddle of water we have had a fair bit of rain, if it becomes a small lake, we have had a lot of rain. It was a small lake this morning!

We had a hunting day today, which went ahead, although I was not sure if it would, Philip and Holly went out with three people (one had cancelled) and Sky, they had a good morning although did not catch anything, but had some great flights, which considering the wind was OK. They then all watched the Peregrine fly at the 1.30 demo, she was amazing, racing round the sky and you could see the pressure of the wind on her wings. Luckily no insane pigeons tried to fly after her today, she ended up coming in high and I hid the lure, and then threw it out and she did a stunning vertical stoop, almost tipping past the point of vertical, she pulled out and came back and grabbed the lure, it was most exciting! We also flew Cool Ground, because he doesn’t seem to do really well on particularly dark nights, which if you think about it is not surprising as there must be snow on the ground most of the winter months and so the light will be reflected, and that should mean that Snowy Owls don’t actually have to manage in as dark nights as do our owls here. Add in the wind factor and we decided it was better to try Woodland Venture the Asian Brown Wood Owl, who is now very good and extremely nocturnal in deep woods in the wild so he should be fine.

There is an owl evening tonight, the weather has eased which will make it much more pleasant. I don’t mind wet days but wet owl evenings are not much fun really. Although the mulled wine does help!

Simon phoned from India about the powerful candler, but it is going to take a little time to get it from the US, so I hope it gets there in time; however we will have to manage without it if it doesn’t. He will be back on Tuesday and we have all missed him greatly. I did not tell him about the Lugger, that can wait until he gets back, but at least we have got a few jobs done while he has been away. Well quite a lot actually!
The owl evening went well, a good crowd and very appreciative, Holly and Adam took one lot round and I did the others. The two owls flew well indoors, Woodland Venture poor lad needs to have a rehearsal, he was confused, but the other two Hemp and Oath did fine and the puppies love to come and say goodbye to people. Nearly had a disaster though, nearly ran out of mulled wine - phew, it was a close thing, had to make somemore!
Friday, 13 November 2009

My friend Linda just reminded me that today five years ago we were packing up birds and going on my fateful trip to the US, with 189 birds of prey, 6 labradors and my life’s trappings. Little did I know then that I would be sitting back at my desk in my old place in my office, looking at a cool autumn sky, with the Oak trees still in gorgeous orange leaf, five years later.

What a lot has happened in those five years, some very sad, some ridiculous, some lies and I apparently have met three first class con men in that period as well. I am determined to finish the book this winter before my memory fades on the whole debacle.

It was a very rainy day yesterday, so not a lot got done outside in the afternoon. Mike Turner and I went to get a new wheel for my dumper, who should go like a ‘goodun’ once it is on. Hopefully the brakes will work too as that makes for a much less interesting drive.

Talking of drive, no the Range Rover is still not fixed, I have no idea what is wrong, and I suspect neither does anyone else. David Kenworthy came yesterday, and needless to say I changed the plan a little. He took down a particularly ugly Leylandii tree that was starting to ruin a flower bed and made releasing the birds from the weighing room difficult. That was gone and cleared up by coffee time, what would I do without my volunteers. Although I have to say that Sedge and Acer although thoroughly enjoying themselves did not exactly help with the clear up. Then we looked at the hedge between the flying field and the sheep/horse (one day!) field. I had hoped to have it laid, but the cost was prohibitive, and I need several others done more. So I decided to treat it like the beech hedge round my house, and we chopped it down to fence level. The Maple trees were crown raised (cleared out and made to look less cluttered and more shapely to you and I!) and we got about one third down, it gets easier towards the far end. I need to plant some more beeches to fill in the gaps, but it is going to look great by the spring and it opens up the field no end.

His next task and not an easy one is to reduce the height of more bloody Leylandii that are behind the small falcon block, that happens next week so we can use them for our late Bonfire Night!

Mike Turner came today and we started on the base to replace the old enclosures at the end of the Hawk Walk and make the tethered birds more secure as well as giving us back our enclosures at the end of the Hawk Walk. He leveled the area before the rain started, then we finished the Zoo Mesh on the second of the Kite aviaries. Most of the birds got flown before the weather changed.

Now there is a storm blowing outside and neither of the puppies want to go out for a late night pee, which I have to say I can’t blame them!
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Four lectures in three days, phew! Actually to be more accurate two of them were in one place so I am not sure that counts, although very different audiences, so perhaps it does. The only reason I am writing this at this ungodly hour is that I have just got back from London and my electric blanket needs time to warm up!! And for anyone who lives in a cold house and has not experienced an electric blanket, you have no idea of the bliss you are missing!

My first lecture was to a falconry club, not a huge audience I have to say, and a long drive to Coventry, but it was good to see a couple of old friends, and a test for the Range Rover – it failed, did the trip up and the needle stayed slap bang in the middle on the temperature gauge – hooray I thought, we, OK Tony, has fixed the problem, no more over heating, but no. On the way back it started to creep up past the half way mark and then climb to hot up every hill or when the engine had to work. However I made it home. Monday I had two lectures at what I would call a primary school, one for the 4 – 5 year olds, not exactly highbrow stuff, but probably the hardest to do of the four talks, and the other to 9 – 10 year olds, which was more fun. The range rover was getting worse, temp gauge all over the place up every damn hill and there were a few. Woodland Venture (Asian Brown Wood Owl) behaved well though, although that is more than could be said for Airborne (Boobook Owl). Anyway I decided it was not worth taking the range rover to London, so we dropped it off back at the garage.

Which meant I had to take the lovely little green van, great, perfect for a drive to London and back, and I never have managed to get the damn radio to work! Oh well, it uses less diesel, so that is OK!! This time the lecture was a joint one with four of us speaking about the vulture crisis in the Indian Sub Continent. I started with an overview of Eagles and Vultures worldwide (all in 15 minutes!) leading to the three Gyps vultures in South East Asia, and Diclofenac. Rhys Green took over and gave all the facts about how we were sure it really was diclofenac, Richard Cuthbert went on to describe the advocacy programmes to bad diclofenac as a veterinary drug, the Vulture Safe Feeding Zones in Nepal, the research into a safe alternative to diclofenac and then handed onto Nick Lindsay to talk about the captive breeding side of the project. It all went very well, and was pretty much seamless, although all of us know one another fairly well, so we could work together and produce a good final product. We were given drinks and a nice meal, and then I drove home. It was a sod of a drive with fog to thick fog, to very thick fog. And what I want to know is what the hell were those people doing on my road on the last 11 miles, why weren’t they in bed at 11.45pm, and needless to say they were driving like slugs, which was somewhat infuriating.

The dogs were pleased to see me, which is always a good home coming, although I was rather less pleased this morning when I came down to find Sedge inside the kitchen waste bin. Acer was looking as if butter would not melt, but we know she is the one who knocked it over, and then left Sedge to carry the can, once he had come out from inside the bin!

And now my electric blanket should be warm, so Nettle and I are going to bed!
Sunday, 8 November 2009

A sorry day

Damn, damn and damn, what a shitty day, I got up early, it was over cast, but not raining, I realized that I needed to feed round before going out as it was my day on doing that. So I had fed round by 8.00am and got my stuff together for looking for the nameless Lugger. Drove to where I last had a signal and it was still there, I drove round so that I could triangulate and make sure I did not have to walk miles, parked the car and started walking. I very quickly came up to the forbidding hedge and ditch that had stopped me after dark the day before. So I intrepidly climbed down the ditch, wriggled through the hedge and got under the barbed wire fence by crawling! Did you know that barbed wire is supposed to have been invented by an american woman, bloody stuff, I hate it. The signal was behaving oddly and I eventually got through the hedge four times, getting more and more frustrated and worried. And so I should have been, I finally realized that the signal was coming from the ground near me, and there was not a bird to be seen, however on looking I found a very sad and recognizable few feathers including the poor Lugger’s two deck feathers with the telemetry. A fox had got him.

Of course then you wish you had done things differently. He was not coming in during the morning, but I could have kept following, except that we only had two staff, and a Hawk Experience day. When I went out at 4.00pm, I could have gone on longer, but it was pitch dark and I had no torch. I occasionally worry because I rarely take my phone and I frequently take the dogs out for a walk and no one knows where I am, or would miss me if I fell and injured myself. And the hedge that I should have tackled, was difficult enough in the daylight. However had I done it, I think I would have been almost up to him. We also had an Owl Evening starting at 6.30pm. I should perhaps have gone further again at 10.00pm, but didn’t and I suspect that by that time he had probably been eaten.

It’s a great shame as I had bought him to go with my only female Lugger, and we were flying him because he was too young to breed for at least a year, and he was really coming on too. It was my fault and now the rules will be that if any bird when being followed sits on the ground more than once, we have to find him or her before dark. And then damn it, my female Lanner Dawn Run, sat in a tree, which she has not done for months. So bird wise I did not have a good day, these things really do make a difference and it is easy to lose heart over it.

There were a few bright spots, I finished my lecture for tonight, for which I leave in half an hour, a very nice friend joined as a Founder Life Member yesterday, and another person did the same today, which makes it very special and its good to know that people care that much.

The fire is alight, Adam is coming to sit with the dogs and I will be home late I guess.
Saturday, 7 November 2009

One of those days....................

I was a little late up, and it was a lovely day, so I rushed, and missed my bath - damn it! Got a little work done on the lecture which is now tomorrow night, and then rushed again and decided to fly a couple of birds before the experience day, bad move, the lugger with no name, although he now has several that are unrepeatable, buggered off. That for those of you not into training birds of prey is a technical term for buggered off. So I trotted after him, it had been cold to start with so I had a sleeveless coat on, which is now stuffed in a hedge somewhere, I will have to try and retrieve it.
I had the telemetry and caught up with him on the ground about three fields away, however he was not ready to come in, so he took off and flew down wind. I followed, caught up with him again about another three fields away and he had taken off before I even got out the lure. So I followed him again, about another three fields!! He was consistent you have to agree, however the second field had a sodding great bull in it, so I circumnavigated that one, go at least one electric shock from a fence and there he was sitting on the ground. I kept dropping the lure closer and closer and guess what - he buggered off again. So so did I! I was now about a mile and half away from home, there was a course to deal with, the flying demonstration was immanent and I had friends staying. So as he was not looking like coming back, I came home. I forgot to pick up the coat.

The day went OK, although a little hectic with the experience day which Holly and Adam did most of, thank goodness. A number of falcons did not get flown, but otherwise lots got done. John and Holly went off in the afternoon to see if they could get a signal from the telemetry and got back about 4.30, in time for Holly to feed the owls. And we had an owl evening as well. So I shot off to get a fix on where the lugger was and the others finished off. I managed to track him down to a small area, but by that time it was dark, so I left him - I hope up a tree and not on the ground, the signal said up not down, and went back to do the owl evening. That went fine, although it did start to rain, but we managed. Once we had finished I drove back again to check the signal and he is still there. So it will be an early start tomorrow and I hope he has a cold wet night!
Friday, 6 November 2009

The one thing that makes me go shopping, which I loath doing, is running out of bubble bath. I am not a shower person, which is one of the reasons why the last four years have been so miserable – no bath, only showers. I like a very hot bath, with bubbles and a book, usually a paperback as I have on occasion dropped the damned thing in the bath. Of course a glass of wine as well makes it even better, but I usually have my baths in the morning, and it would seem a little decadent, not to say somewhat unappetising to have a glass of wine at 6.45am.

So having flown several birds, and had coffee time, which reminds me….. For the last two weeks I have not enjoyed the coffee in the café which is odd, because Angela and Sue and Tracy all know that I think the quality of the coffee is important and so do they. At first it was only me who thought it tasted wrong, all my staff said it was because my tongue was sore from being bitten by the Lugger!! However today I moaned even louder about it and finally everyone one except Holly agreed it was a burnt taste and left an after taste as well. Holly said it was warm and wet!! I thought it tasted less good than drinking badly burnt toast. So having looked into it, although we ordered the same stuff, we did not get it. Consequently they are taking back this and giving us the proper stuff – hooray, coffee time will be enjoyable again. Anyway I digress, after coffee I wanted to see if I could get the Range Rover to over heat, as apparently only I can do it, so needing bubble bath and a couple of other things I drove to Ross on Wye, to Morrison’s, remember I said I was not going to do Tesco’s on line!! It was heaving, which is one of the reasons I hate shopping. I got various things, except for Adam’s fly spray, I was told it was the winter now and so we would not need fly spray – tell that to the flies! I then had to post a parcel and see about drill bits, so I happened to walk past (OK I did deviate a little) an antique/second hand shop, and blow me there was an arm chair on the pavement outside, so I sat in it!! Well you would, wouldn’t you?

I have vaguely been looking for one as the dogs take up the whole sofa and I sit on the floor, which I think I am getting a little old for. This was perfect, comfortable, not too hideous, and it turned out afterwards to be a recliner as well and all for £25!! A steal, so the lady and I put it in the back of the car and I brought it home. It had to stay in the car for a while as first there were the puppies to give lunch, and then the 1.30 demonstration, and then stuff, computer work I guess, then the 3.30 demo and finally get out my new chair. Of course that meant taking the sofa out of the office, turning the carpet round, hovering, putting the carpet back, moving the sofa around, and finally putting in the chair. By this time it was dark!! So I sat in it for about a minute, and then got on with stuff, like lighting the fire, putting away the shopping, etc etc. My friends arrived at about 6.30pm and Rush has been sitting in my new chair ever since – I sat on the floor!

Still the office looks nice and tidy and clean, the dogs are happy, my guests have gone to bed and I am plucking up the courage to finish off my lecture for Sunday night!
The picture is one of Linda's great one's sadly not my owl, Mugwort our lovely wonderful tame Tawny Owl died before I got home, however the pair I have laid last year and I am hoping for a replacement for her next year.
Thursday, 5 November 2009

With the dawning of another nice day we did the same as yesterday and got as many of the birds not on official demonstration flown early. It bodes well for December when we close as I would like to get all the birds done early so we can concentrate on other jobs and get them finished. It was however much windier than yesterday, so some of the less experienced birds struggled a little, but not the peregrine, she fair streaked through the sky!

My Long-eared Owl did not behave yesterday, he went straight up into one of the walnut trees, and came down OK, but when asked to cross the flying ground he turned back into the same tree, and there he stayed, so we had to rethink the demonstration, the Harris Hawk would have eaten him, and probably Hemp (Eurasian Eagle Owl) would have done as well had he moved at the wrong time, and the peregrine definitely would have caught him in flight. So we put on the Kites, as they were highly unlikely to do him any harm, and they shut him up – not a peep for the whole time they were flying, we were about to do the Buzzard on a line, when he decided he had had enough of these strange flying birds and he legged it (OK winged it) up towards his enclosure, Robin picked him up at the gate.

Talking of Hemp, I did have to laugh today, I was flying her and she flies Very low to the ground, well Sedge was lying in the grass waiting for me to finish and he did not see her coming. She literally flew maybe an inch above his head, and has a wingspan of 6 feet, so that is like a Lancaster bomber going an inch over your head (they are huge!). Sedge did a somersault and yelped and ran off, I just fell about laughing much to his embarrassment! I wish it had been filmed!

It always annoys me that no TV company will make a long term serious about daily life here, it is a damn sight more interesting that some of the reality TV that you see, and certainly never dull.

I wonder why it is that on some nights you go to bed and sleep just completely evades you for no apparent reason. I had one of those last night and was still wide away at 4.00am. I really should get up and work, but instead I read. And now of course I am very tired, I am hoping tonight will not be a repeat and if it is, I will get up and work.

I have to go and get my car later, we are going to see if it overheats again, I have no idea why it does, so I am going to try it out going to a lecture near Coventry, I am hoping that if it does break down, it does so on the way back, not on the way there………………….

As I drove my car back this evening, it was dark and I could see lights from houses dotted through hedges and trees and along the roadside. It reminded me of so much. Of how depressing it was to drive back into the property in south carolina in the dark and wet, to a miserable and unwelcoming double-wide trailer, what a difference from what I had been used to. Then when I was living in the steel barn at Eardisland before I got yet another trailer, I used to drive back from Hereford where the quarantine/temporary housing for the birds was. I would drive through similar country lanes, looking at the lights in the various cottages and houses along the way and think how lucky they were to have a proper home; I had been without one for, by the time I got back here, over four years. I know there are many people out there who probably would have liked a trailer to live in, I am not sure they would have enjoyed the steel barn in a wet summer and cold winter as it was particularly unpleasant, but I had had such a nice home that I had worked very hard to keep and not having one was very tough, particularly as I was always concerned about the birds and the dogs that I was dragging through the same experience.

This drive however I thought, I am going home – to a proper home, with lamps and furniture and a fire to light on a dark wet late autumn evening. The birds are safe and snug and the dogs are waiting for me, it was a good feeling.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Its been a lovely day, the sun was out first to last, with maybe a couple of cloudy patches, but they were minutes. I decided this was going to be a day I got things done!! Finished the article last night, I hope it is OK, I think it is. It turned into about 1500 words which is not bad. Started today by getting birds flown because the forecast was not good (wrong of course!) so I flew the lugger who must have a name soon, he was good, Casper, who was very good, Adams Lanner and Gazelle and Greaves, the female Kestrel, who was very good, and Holly got Jodami done, so by coffee time we had done six already. After coffee I flew Adam's Harris Hawk Radamanthus who was excellent. I took him and the two puppies round the field together, he did not swear at the dogs once, and even landed on the ground twice and they - the sweethearts, never even thought about going up to him, they really are very good, and both under four months old!! We had visitors and so we did the 11.30 demo. We try to do the demo visitors or not even if it is raining. Although I have to say we have only had three days with rain since I can't remember when.

I also picked up the Steppes, we had a bit of a bate for a few minutes, but he settled and I put him in the middle lawn, I picked him up again late afternoon and he was very good, he is so bloody heavy though, a lump at seven and a half pounds!! And he rides very heavy on the fist at the moment.

Got some office work done, including Staff manual, Volunteer manual, Education Policy and the X?!!!XXX Health and Safety Manual checked through and sent back to Robin who is collating them all. Plus all vital emails, and started on one of the lectures, I have them sort of fixed in my mind, but not yet in the computer.

Between us we got all the birds flown, and Holly and Robin to Sky the hunting Harris Hawk out for a swift walk round the fruit farm, no chases, but good for them all. We had one visitor who no matter what I did or said never changed his expression, never smiled and never applauded when all the others did. We get them occasionally and I always spot them!! All I can say is I am glad I am not married to him!

I have discovered a new way to save on electricity and improve on my carbon footprint, I do the washing up in the scullery in the dark!! Makes it far easier and quicker as you do it by feel! Of course I blow it completely if the oven has been on as I open the door to warm myself, because as we get into the colder weather the house is getting chilly (that could be an understatement!) I have not yet turned on the central heating and am avoiding it as long as I can. Although I have a couple of friends coming to stay this weekend so I suspect I will succumb in their honour! But unless it is much colder, it will go off again on Sunday night!! It just goes to show how much cooking I do though, I have been here for coming up for eleven months (eleven months home!!!!!) and I am still on the same gas bottle........
Tuesday, 3 November 2009

One of those days..........

There is a vivid moon outside my office window, by the time we finished this evening, which was only just after 5.00pm there it was, less vivid and brilliant, but nevertheless vibrant in the pale but darkening sky. As I walked up the field from looking at the great work done by Adam and the volunteers in Danny's Wood, clearing so we can plant the bluebell bulbs, the trees had lost all colour and were silhouetted against the clean blue sky, a wonderful autumn late afternoon. Which was all to the good as I have had one of those days where I am damned if I could tell you what I have done, and feel like I have achieved nothing.

It started very rainy and I fed round with Holly so we could check we were on the same page with food, which we are - which is great. Although I think we all have a different route to go round! Then I guess I did some office work, I certainly managed to get a couple of things in the snail mail category done. I have this really bad habit of a) leaving snail mail until I can bear it no longer (suggestion! - don't send me snail mail if you want a quick answer) and then worse b)once I have done it, I forget to actually put in envelopes and post it, so there was at least a weeks worth of stuff I had got done, but not quite got done, sitting on my desk.

After that it is a blur, I would have done something, because I never do nothing unless I am asleep, but it certainly did not get any vital jobs do. Oh I remember, a somewhat involved answer to an email that took some time and research. Still raining, and then it cleared to a lovely afternoon, we got most of the birds done. Adam picked up the Steppe Eagle as I had three falcons to get done (I think they are turning crepuscular! I keep flying them close to dark!) and it did very well, weighs in at more than seven pounds though and he does not ride lightly on the fist either, but we are getting there with him. I flew Casper, who when the later sun caught his white and black colours looked amazing, as did the Lanner, Common when he hit a patch above the trees.

However now I have to get two lectures and an article done, so I had better get on with it. Thanks to those who solved my tracking changes problems, I will ask again! The fire is lit, one puppy and Nettle are lying in front of it, with the other three on my too small sofa........... peace!
Monday, 2 November 2009

I have always held onto computer technology by my finger nails which is not to say much as I bite them (very efficiently!). So when I find that a programme I have been using for years does something really useful that I never knew about, I say to myself, bugger it, why did I not know that before, it would have saved me hours of time. Conversely, why oh why don't the people who write the software ask computer idiots like me to work with their programmes before they finish them. I have just been going through a LONG document in Word, that has tracked changes, can I find a way to say yes to all the changes in one go, can I hell, I can merge several documents, but I don't want to, I can do a ton of other things including accept a job offer - although where the hell that came from I have no idea! But can I just tell it to accept all the changes and leave me alone, no, I have to go through and do them one at a flaming time. When I went to the help, it wasn't any, and afterwards they put a window asking if the help was useful - needless to say I told them what I thought of it! However the day I get an answer will be a miracle.

It has been a little colder today, I managed to get about half an hour during the day between flying birds, so I tried to catch up on some office work, by the time I had sat in front of my computer for a while, I was beginning to get cold and was most definitely cold during the first half of the last demonstration. We finished up having flown all the birds, and they all went well, Adam did my Steppe Eagle, we are sharing him which saves on both our arms and means he will not be too one person. All the falcons did very well, its good to fly Casper (white bird) in the morning as the morning light catches him and he is stunningly beautiful, and what's more, he is actually flying quite well.

I fed round, and Adam tried his hand at fixing a dripping tap, he turned the water off, we still have to turn the whole place off to do anything, which is infuriating and one of the things I intend getting sorted. We both looked at the tap once it was in bits - neither of us had a clue what we were looking at!! Luckily Tom arrived and said yes the washer was duff - when we saw the new one we were amazed - it most certainly was duff! So Adam went to Gloucester Building Supplies, who really ought to change their name - perhaps Gloucester Hobby Store, or Lego Building Supplies would do. They had nothing which did not surprise me. The last time I went in there for some roofing nails they sold them in packs of 12 nails, who the hell wants 12 nails if they are building something for heavens sake!!! They asked me how many I was looking for and I said 2000 (which I was!) and walked out mumbling in fury! I remember when you could go into a decent hardware shop and buy 5 lbs of nails, we didn't count the bloody things, and if you don't know what lbs are - look it up!

Adam was on a roll, he then fixed the lights in the small falcon block, I should have thought of some other things as well for him!

I have a ton of paperwork to do and two lectures to put into PowerPoint, and I have not managed to get started properly on them yet, although I have found the photos I was looking for which is a start.

There is a bright moon gleaming down, the day really has been lovely despite the weather forecast. Lets hope for more of the same. It was a good night to light the fire in my office/sitting room, so the dogs and I did - its always useful to have puppies taking your kindling and chewing it as you are making the fire! I am working on stuff and Sedge is lolling in front of the fire chewing something, Indigo and Rush are on the sofa, Acer can't decide where to be and Nettle has gone upstairs to my bedroom - I turned on the electric blanket as it is the only heating I use upstairs, so she is warm and snug. We need a larger sofa for all of us - I usually end up sitting on the floor!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Simon phoned from India yesterday morning, the candler that they have for checking eggs is not powerful enough so I am trying to get them a better one as soon as I can. We will need it to check vultures eggs in the near future. Otherwise it seems to be going well, although we do miss him here.

Yesterday dawned with a dense mist at 6.30am, it was mysterious and exciting, I went down and fed the dogs and blow me it had almost all gone in less than half an hour, then the sun burnt through and we had a perfectly lovely day. I managed to get some of the birds flown before the Experience Day started at 10.00. Casper was good, the Lugger was good, the Steppe Eagle is slowly improving and I did the Gymnogene in his aviary as well. It was a falcon day which involves teaching people how to swing a lure well enough to fly one of the Lanners in the afternoon. They did well. At the same time we had a photography weekend, so various birds with Julie, one of the volunteers went out into the field to sit on natural perches and be photographed, and then those on the course went into Charlies Room and worked on what they had done. It was a great day for everyone on the various courses. John and Zoe managed to get the zoo mesh on one of the Kite aviaries, they are going to look great when they are finished, although I think Zoe had more black stain on her than the timer! Then followed the second Owl Evening. Holly had to go and get ready for a wedding - not hers, and Adam got back in time to help with the owl evening and hear the guided tour. It went very well, the weather was mild and the moon was out. Oath did much better, Cool Ground (Snowy Owl) was excellent (well Adam says he was!) And Hemp was as good as ever. It was a long day!

Today dawned very wet and windy. The dogs did not want to go out after their breakfast and Sedge pointed out that he would be perfectly happy for me to carry him, if I wanted to! I didn't! He and Acer picked up pears from below a small pear tree (not surprising that really!) and took them into the house. We saw the results later on the floor in the shop, it is a good job that we have planning to re-carpet the shop in the winter.

It was a very quiet day, very few visitors, the weather was dire to start with, I fed round as Holly was off, got through two skirts, two coats and two jerseys I was so wet! Then the rain stopped and we were able to start to fly birds, we did pretty much everyone because I like to get them used to flying in less than optimum conditions and this was less than optimum conditions! The falcons all managed well, the Peregrine was stunning, the only one I did not fly was the younger Peregrine who could not have coped. We also left the smaller owls as they get blown around so much.

I think I was tired by the end of the day as I was definitely getting ratty! However a hair cut by Jan this afternoon, an early evening bath and next early bed with a good book will do the trick.


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.

Blog Archive

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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