Sunday, 28 February 2010

We had a very quiet Sunday, the weather forecast yesterday was dire, so not surprisingly most people stayed in, and yet the weather was OK, no rain, a bit cold, but dry, damn I wish they would get better at being more accurate as they have such an effect on the tourist industry.

Still we flew all the birds and the falcons are starting to get back to fitness after their enforced break with the snow. We are going to start with Pinotage the Egyptian Vulture next week, although she is in a very snappy mood at the moment, ah well, I guess we will see how she does if she gets back to flying, actually I am pretty sure she is a he, so perhaps that is the problem. We are also going to get the two Turkey Vultures going, Buckwheat and Alfalfa; Robert Allen named them for some cartoon characters in the US. I am looking forward to getting them flying again.

I don’t think my baby rabbits are going to make it, Randal is not well this evening. They have never taken to the bottle feeding particularly well and they are very young, I probably should not have tried, but it seemed a shame not to give it a go.

We have had a bit of a surprise with the newest owl. The young Indian Eagle Owls that we bred in December are not suitable for us to fly as they have not been aclimatised the dogs, so when the parents laid again I asked Simon to remove the eggs as we are not finding homes for them easily. But to keep one back so I could rear and fly it and get it used to the dogs. As he was going to India we put the last egg under the African Spotted Eagle Owls, who had two eggs, but have not produced fertile ones since 2005. So when he got back there were still two eggs and one baby. An Indian Eagle Owl we thought!! However!! It was larger than expected, had yellow eyes, not eyes starting to go orange, and tiny feet, yes you guessed it. Its not an Indian Eagle Owl, its an African Spotted Eagle Owl, and we are delighted. Simon then removed the other two eggs and checked them, one was the Indian Eagle Owl that had stopped and the other was fertile but not survived. So he took the eggs and we hope they will recycle and produce some more young. Its great to have one of their babies again and he is in the kitchen getting used to the dogs and us.

Tomorrow we will finish off the zoo mesh on Mozart's new block of enclosures, Simon and Adam worked hard on them today and it is looking good. Finish off the benches in the flying field, and start the next bit of drainage. I hope to get the bulk of that done by the end of this week as we have a five day course next week. I also hope my bloody car will be fixed by then.
Saturday, 27 February 2010

Well we are back to green – hooray, it rained a lot in the night, it must have done because I have a small lake back again, but the paths are looking pretty good so the drainage where we have done it, is working!! It was a warmer night thank goodness because my boiler broke yesterday afternoon, so the house was cold and NO bath aaaaaaagggggghhhhh!!

Our coffee times are always fun and sometimes hilarious, although on occasion the tone of the conversation can take a dive pretty quickly. Yesterday however we were deciding what the definition of a cold house is. Dick said it was when a mars bar gets brittle enough to snap, and I reckoned that it was when you have the devil’s own job to get the toothpaste to come out of the tube. We then discussed ice on the inside of windows, which all of us had experienced in the past, it makes us the tough Brits that we are!! But I have to say I hope the boiler man comes today because it is not fun in an unheated house in February.

It is lovely to see all the grass again though, it is looking a little sad and squashed, but grass is the most amazingly resilient stuff and it will recover soon and then have to be mowed!! Richard gave us a really nice cylinder mower and I am dying to try it out, I know it will give a much nicer cut than a rotary mower. Talking of grass, and then onto Rabbits, which I have a ton of living around the place, everyone was moving sand into the new aviaries yesterday and a rabbit has had babies in the sand pile, so now I have Roger, Rory, Rupert and Randal (not my choice!!! Blame John and Holly!) in a box on a hot water bottle in the kitchen next to the baby owl!! They are being fed on a kitten mix about every 2 hours and they are not easy to feed, but they survived the night. It will be interesting to if we succeed in rearing them, I think they will not be tame even though their eyes are still shut. So far I don’t think the dogs have realised they are there, once they do things will get a little more difficult. I suppose we could have just left them, but that seemed a little unfair as they would not have survived and after all we did remove their home.

Some of the crocuses are up, the snowdrops have survived the snow and the daffodils are coming, spring must be on its way. Although I do feel sad for all the deer in Scotland, more snow for them. I think it is daft not to feed them, if it is a 100 million pound industry then for heavens sake the people earning that should spend some of it and put out some hay for them, they are not going to suddenly stop looking for food in a normal winter and rely on hay if they do it in these extreme conditions. Just feed the creatures, buy them some hay, you owe it to them.

I watched that programme about Luna, the killer whale that wanted company, now I work with animals on a daily and probably much more intimate way than most scientists, and I disagree entirely with them that people should not have been involved, and taken what was an amazing opportunity given by that whale, there should have been a way to make the creature have human company and not go and annoy the wrong people, whales are eminently trainable, and very intelligent, what gives scientists the right to think they know more. Certainly in the raptor world they don’t have half the insight or understanding that those who work with the birds do, in fact not a quarter of the understanding. Only the North Americans could invent the words tough love. Time we tried it on humans beings to stop over eating, that would be much more valuable!

Saturday. We were not able to do much on the drainage this week as we still had snow at the beginning of it, so we finished off Mozart's new block of enclosures or nearly, and replaced the benches in the flying field, and raked leaves! Roger, Rory, Rupert and Randal are still with us! They are being bottle fed still and they do not appreciate it, but they are pretty cute and all bar Randal have opened their eyes now, I wonder when they start eating greens. Don’t ask me what we are going to do with them, I am more worried about them surviving at this point. The new benches are half done and the seating area in the flying ground looks pretty damn good. I have to say that the old benches were removed just in time and that could be an understatement!! They were barely still standing. The timber for the new ones came from Travis Perkins who gave us a really good price and Mike cleared the area and we put down 12 tons of scalpings after leveling the ground, then flattened it with my whacker plate, which is a dynamite machine.

Saturday we were busy, but the weather for tomorrow looks dreadful.
Monday, 22 February 2010
After high numbers of volunteers on Friday, we were down to one on Sat and none on Sunday, and we missed you all !! It was a beautiful weekend, the sun came out both days and on the Sunday it even got warm enough at one point for me to walk round with no coat, which is the first time for months. Simon is back, he had a good trip and the breeding is going well in India which is very nice. The vulture egg here was fine, but the Tawny Eagle egg that we thought was OK, had stopped developing probably before we even took it. The weather has been so cold that we are going to have to either redesign the nest ledges or take eggs straight away. But to cheer him up the Verreaux’s have laid, and it is the younger pair, so that is a first time for her, and she was bred here, so that is extra special. Keep your fingers crossed for that to hatch well, and for the Tawny Eagles to recycle, as they are almost more important for us.

We were very busy on Friday – surprisingly so considering the snow, and the same on Sat, although Sunday was quieter, I can never understand why the last Sunday of the half term and the last day of the school holidays is always much quieter than the other days. Still those photographers who came got some great photos. The way the light reflects on the underside of the birds as they are flying just looks amazing as you will see with a couple of photos from Linda.

Today Dick did a good clean of the Hawk Walk outside; it was too cold to bring the birds outside as it has been a very bitter day with a cold northerly wind. John and our new volunteer Liz, after having helped Adam with cleaning Barn 4, have started on the black stain on Mozart’s block and it looks amazing! Mike finished changing the guttering around so that the water from the small owl block goes into the new drains, and has put in the new gate posts for the end of the Hawk Walk, so soon that will be secure again – hooray. I have a baby Indian Eagle Owl that will be living in the house for the next few weeks in the evening as I am determined that we will have dog proof owls, it’s a pain if they decide that they don’t like the dogs.

I have to say I did end up pretty damn angry earlier in the day. It looks like I may have to go to Scotland for a court case, which quite frankly is a complete waste of my and their time as the origins of the case are over two years ago and I am blowed if I remember much about it at this point in time. However I have been a witness before several times and even in the US, and never have I been concerned about it, and always the court has been polite in the asking. This time however instead of sending me a letter telling me to be at the court, I got a phone call from the local police telling me I had a summons. Now that is enough to spoil anyone’s day. He then explained about it, and the policeman is going to have to come up here to give me the summons, which was incidentally written on December 10th – it is now February 22nd, so if they had just sent me a polite letter on December 10th I would have a) known about it straight away, and b) not had my time and the police’s completely wasted, plus c) getting me extremely pissed off at the extreme and unnecessary Scottish rudeness in asking one to come to court.

It is much warmer (!) this evening, the snow is still melting and there is not a frost as yet, so perhaps we will get back to green and spring in the near future.

Friday, 19 February 2010
Light, there is something very special about the light in the autumn, winter and spring here in England, it is I suppose to do with being so far north and low sun. Today the light has been quite beautiful, and by the last demonstration, when it caught Hemp, our Eurasian Eagle Owl as she was sitting on the centre perch in the flying ground, it was stunning beyond belief, and so was she. I think it is one of the things I missed when I was in the states, the light in South Carolina, particularly in the summer was very harsh, I also never saw the deep velvet blue of a clear evening that we get here.

It has been a long week, but we have achieved a great deal. Mozart’s new block has been a little neglected, although Jan arrived the day before yesterday and did all the second coat of magnolia. We will stain it next week if the weather allows, and then get the sand and wall perches in, Zoomesh and it is done! However Barn 2 is finished and the flower beds around it have been pruned to the ground by me!! If whatever the plants are don’t like being pruned, I think it will be the end for them, but they were all badly overgrown, and so if they like being pruned to within an inch of their lives, they will have a great time this spring! It is all raked and tidied around the aviary and to our great surprise and pleasure a visitor sent me a picture of ‘two of your eagles mating’ and I imagined it would be the Verreaux’s who are inclined to wait until visitors are around before partaking! However it was the Bateleur Eagles, which is wonderful, so we quickly built some nests, with the help of some of the children visitors, and I put one in with them, they are already playing with it!

The drainage is going well, it’s a messy job and at the end of it there will be nothing much to see, but if we can get the paths drained and dry that will be a major step. The Eagle Barn was given a normal rake, we can’t get in there and give it a major clean now until after the breeding season. The small falcon block has had a good spring clean as has the Kites (again!). So we are up to scratch with most of the enclosures in time for the breeding season. Add to that it bloody snowed yesterday and we ended up with about four inches, and then last night a hard freeze. Amazingly we had a good number of visitors today which was lovely. We were not sure what we would be able to fly for them because of the snow, but in the end we did brave two of the falcons, who did not want to land on the snow, but managed!! The Harris Hawks did well as did the owls. Linda came over to get pictures of the snowy owl in the snow, and I hope managed to get something. Hemp was a star and the only bird who did not mind the snow, in fact landed in it with no worries and even sat on one of the huge snowballs we had rolled to get some grass to show for the falcons!

Here is hoping that more snow does not come, we have had enough thanks, and it is not good for business! And that a ton of people visit this year to see us.
Saturday, 13 February 2010

I hate Satnavs, I loath Satnavs, I despise Satnavs, they are an abomination to mankind guaranteed to add to the technology that is eating your brains, don’t use them!!! Adam and I had a tough day, Simon, Holly and Robin all off, eggs to do, feeding round, birds to get out, a Hawk Experience Day, a Handling experience for a birthday boy, a French girl visiting, plus three demonstrations, an underweight barn owl to deal with and then, Satnavs!!! There was about 40 minutes between the end of the work during the day, and the Valentines Owl evening, to sit down for a little while and have a cup of tea and I had FIVE bloody phone calls from people who were lost, why, because of their bloody satnavs. Aggggggggggghhhhhhh!!

Friday was a slightly more peaceful day, actually come to think of it, I must be nuts, we – the team that is – cleaned two more of the enclosures in Barn 2 so we have four left to do. Mike started the serious drainage, so we then filled in all the trenches and got the paths back to a safe state for the owl evening, it would have been a bit of a problem with visitors falling in trenches in the dark!!` We flew all the birds and then did an Owl Evening. It was not at all peaceful!

Actually both night’s fri and Sat audiences were really good fun and a pleasure to take round, and hopefully some of them will come back and visit during the day and see what we do in daylight!! The birds all flew well, the young Lanners are coming on a treat and will I think be very good. The little Male Lugger is also showing signs of being a good flyer. Adam got my Bald Eagle to sit on the fist and his Steppe Eagle did its first proper turn, so all in all, the day was OK. Oh and the Barn Owl is fine too.
Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cold week in February

Bloody hell it has been cold this week, most of the days there has been an easterly or northerly wind coming up the field and those people brave enough to come out in this weather must have been frozen watching the birds fly because we sure as hell have been flying them!!

It was a bitterly cold Monday and was trying to snow on and off for most of the day. Dick came in and Holly, Adam and I spent much of the day spring cleaning Barn 2. We caught up the Grey Buzzard Eagles first and scrapped, scrubbed, cleaned and painted their enclosure. They have new perches, a clean nest ledge, clean wire, well raked sand, and they have had their beaks and talons trimmed. Which reminds me, I was recently sent the cover of a new book on peregrines and it looks like it will be a good book when it come out, but it is let down for me because the in the picture of the tiercel peregrine’s head on the cover the falcon has an over grown beak, and this spoils it for me, I did email them and tell them and even Photo shopped the picture to show them what it should look like, but I guess it is a done deal now. If you look at various bird of prey website you will see a very high number of birds with beaks that are far too long!

We managed to get that enclosure and the Common Buzzards done as well as flying the birds, feeding, sweeping about 13 thousand leaves out of the upper corridor of Barn 1 and even doing a flying demonstration for two very intrepid ladies who braved the cold for not one but two demonstrations!! Mike finished the new Eco drain in the car park and started on the running leak in the path under the tree archway, so that should be finished tomorrow, then we move on to other bits to drain them. Surprisingly the ground is fairly dry, more than I thought it would be and so the digger lent to us by Bob Davis (thank you Bob a million times) is not doing too much damage to the grass.

Simon left for India on Tuesday for ten days, we will miss him, but he is needed for the breeding project of vultures over there. I am looking after the eggs and last night (Wed) I had a horrible dream, I dreamt that we had five Red Kite eggs, all fertile and Simon and I were doing something with them and I broke two!! What a flaming nightmare, there was a piece of barbwire involved (I have no idea why) and a fish tank that was too high, it was most peculiar, luckily the Red Kites have not laid yet so it was really only a dream!

Tuesday and Wednesday we carried on cleaning Barn 2, did really well on Tuesday with three aviaries done. On Wednesday I bravely took my Range Rover, newly fixed to Gloucester to do a radio interview for BBC Gloucestershire. However I did not get back, at least not in the XXX!!!??XX Rover, it overheated again for the 95th time and I abandoned it at Higham Golf Course and Mike collected me. Tony Buckland now has rescued it and is determined that he will do better than the other two garages. I want a new car!! Only one aviary was managed on Wed, but it was the Red tails and it was a mess, it looks much better now. That means the whole of one side is finished and we start on the other one on Friday.

Today Jan and I went to the NEC in my little van, we needed to go to the Spring Fair, which is for stuff to sell in the shop. We had a good drive up, and spent about three and a half hours racing round stands looking for stuff. I have not been for a long time and I seem to remember it being much bigger and more organised last time. However I have to commend the NEC staff, all of whom from the car park in were friendly, polite, helpful and good to talk too. All the trade stands that we stopped at were great too and we have found some nice things. There was however one stand which we were not impressed with. Stone The Crows was the name, it was a large stand and they had some very nice metal owls in three sizes and a set of metal owl book stands. So we went to find some help and were taken to a counter and asked what our postcode was. We were then passed onto one of the staff (who are in desperate need of some customer relation training!). She asked where we lived and I said that we were interested in the metal owls and lived between Gloucester, Ross and Ledbury. ‘They won’t sell there’ (!!!) the lady snapped! I have a bird of prey centre and they will I replied! It is a minimum £500 order she stated. That put us off! So I asked if they had a website and catalog. NO came the answer, we do all our business at shows and we don’t have a website or catalog!! Well they will do no business with us that is for sure and not having a website is remarkably stupid I reckon!! Ah well, we found plenty of other nice things and so you will have to come and see what we got later this year.

We got back in time to help for the rest of the afternoon, at least I did, Jan went home to look through what we had done and seen. We had an Owl Experience day and so I had a chat with them, flew some birds, brought Adam some soil, checked the eggs, and finally when all was done and I was completely frozen came in and light the fire and got on with office work. Its great to be home!!
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Well it was not the most rivetingly exciting weekend weather wise, but it did not rain, however I don’t think we saw the sun for more than about two minutes on Saturday evening! But it was lovely to see reasonable numbers of customers again and the dogs were delighted to have people around. Sedge thinks that all children want to play with him which is not always the case.

I scraped the droppings (lots of them) from all the tiny owls yesterday, and spent most of this morning scrapping Egyptian Vulture, Caracara, Gymnogene and Eurasian Eagle Owl droppings off the walls of their enclosures and a couple of times scraping the Egyptian Vulture and the Caracara off me! We changed a couple of perches and they look neater and tidier. Actually I have come to the conclusion that life would be a great deal easier and cheaper if all the birds were stuffed. If we put motors into about half so they moved on occasion most people probably would not even notice! I remember getting numerous phone calls about an eagle owl sitting on the roof of a shop in Newent, people could hear it hoot, see the jesses, hear the bell and watch it moving all of which was remarkably clever as the damn thing was plastic and nothing whatsoever to do with us, it did not to a great deal of moving either! It would not be as much fun though and I don't suppose we would learn much either.

Simon and Adam cleared up all the tree branches and whathaveyou from Dave’s chain sawing on Friday, they left it all by the fire and this morning Adam started it, as it was mostly Leylandii and Juniper it went up remarkably well, in fact at one point Holly and I thought it was snowing in the Hawk Walk!! John, Zoe and Joe came today and finished off all the clearing, it really does look so nice by Barn Two that we are going to have our spring clean in there this week. As Simon is going to take Athena’s eggs tomorrow it is the ideal time to clean that barn. So anyone out there – that is our task this week!!!

We flew all the birds, and they all did well, some of the young Lanners are really going to be very good in time. The male Lugger is coming on very nicely and showing signs of being a very good flyer. The female flew loose for the first time today, it was an interesting experience!! Time will tell with her.

My Range Rover is back, I have not had time to drive it yet, so again – time will tell, I really hope it is fixed this time as I don’t have a lot of faith left in it at the moment. The young Bald Eagle fed today, eating beef and chicks by its perch, so we are moving on with him, it is going to take time though.
Bob Davies, Julie’s dad came over on Saturday and he and Mike fixed the digger, so its on with the drainage next week, I bloody hope it does not snow again, that would really annoy me! It is however supposed to get very cold again damn it. It is hard on the birds and us out all day. Roll on the spring proper. At least we can’t complain that we have not had a proper winter, it has been more than proper enough for me!
Friday, 5 February 2010

Flipping Hell what a day! It has been non stop. Neil Forbes and Karen arrived first, Neil was running a half day MSc. course. We were expecting 16 students, so we got Charlie’s Room ready, warm and cosy, but in fact there were 24 of them, which was great, but a bit of a squash and certainly warm in there. But they were all very nice and the dogs had a field day with people wanting to talk and play with them. Then the two people for the Falconry Experience Day arrived. Actually I am wrong; David Kenworthy arrived first and got on with the clearing of the fallen willow by the Lime tree opposite Barn 2. He has cleared it all and there is a wonderful view now right through to Green Farm’s lake, which will look lovely in the summer, it has lifted the whole area.

So after coffee I was continuing to clear paths and leaves, Robin took the course with help from Adam. Simon was clearing branches with David cutting, and all the students were happily learning with Neil. At 11.30 he needed some birds for them to look at, so Simon and Adam did that, Robin did the guided tour and I did the flying demonstration for the bus driver!!! You need to be nice to bus drivers – they might bring other visitors and anyway the birds have to be flown. Hannah a work experience girl phoned and needed picking up from Newent so I managed that after the demo, then a photographer for the Forester Newspaper wanted a photo of us with an owl and then a chap from Travers Perkins wanted to have a chat!! It was hectic. Still the day went well, we had a few visitors, the courses went very well, the visitors were happy, the place is looking better by the minute. Holly came in on her day off and took photos with her new camera – I hope they are good. Robin took Hannah down to the bus at the end of the day. Mike did a great job on the start of the path drainage although the digger is not well at the end of it, but Julie’s dad is coming to fix it tomorrow – hooray. Its so nice to start to get the paths right and the water sorted out, I will be sooooooooo pleased when it is done and works.

I could say the same for my car, but apparently we are not there yet. Honestly I have not had my bloody range rover working properly since last July. You would not think it was that difficult but I gather it is a crap BMW engine. We never should have sold it to the Germans, Americans, Indians, we should have kept it. And as for Cadbury’s!!! Bad move, have you ever tasted American chocolate, it is dire!! I did finally manage at the end of the day, to empty my barrow of leaves, but only one got done, pathetic, I hope to do better tomorrow.
The young Bald Eagle (in picture) is doing well, although I could do with him stopping biting my head!! Ah well its early days yet, he only arrived in the Hawk Walk yesterday, handsome chap isn't he!
Thursday, 4 February 2010
The concrete had gone off in the freezer shed so we moved in the new deep freezers, which are very smart, but the problem is that you don’t get half the volume of space with chest freezers that you get with a walk in. However we should save as much as £4.00 per day on the electricity bill and that will pay for most of the freezers with in a year. So you have to be positive about it. (I still want to get back to a walk in though!) Josh came over and so helped with getting everything straight and working in the freezer shed, and it is done and cleaned up outside. By sheer chance a scrap man dropped in, so he took a whole load of scrap metal including the old engines which was cool, so that is all cleared away and looking much smarter.

Adam and John had a great trip to the Netherlands yesterday, I am never sure if it should be called Holland or the Netherlands. I guess looking at Wikipedia it is the Netherlands. Anyway, Vogelpark Avifauna very very kindly gave us their young captive bred Bald Eagle from last year, and Adam and John went to collect it. They had a seamless trip, leaving at 1.00am, catching the Channel Tunnel train, driving to the Netherlands with no problems, seeing round the park, collecting the eagle, driving back and arriving home by 9.30pm!!! We were all amazed. We left the eagle quietly in his box that night and Simon Holly and I got him out this morning and jessed and belled him, and put him out on the lawn. He was sitting on his perch within an hour and seems to be a charming person. He is very good looking. It was grey and rainy today so I did not get a picture, but will try to get one tomorrow.

We were a little low on customers today, not surprisingly with the weather, but got most of the birds flown anyway. The two Luggers are coming on, the male is great and flying free and looking good, the female is behind and has a way to go before she will be loose, but is doing OK. The new falcon that was donated – a hybrid Peregrine Saker is flying free, she is very unfit, but will be exciting once she has gained some fitness, she flies very fast and cuts in on the line – which will teach everyone to keep the lure away from their body!!

Spring is most definitely on its way, as I raked four million seven hundred and forty nine leaves up in the last couple of days, I had to be careful of the daffodils starting to shoot, which was nice to see, and as we dragged various branches of various species of trees to the bonfire you could see the buds were getting close to coming into being again, spring is such a magical time.

I had to pay bills yesterday, not my favourite job I have to say. One bill was for £2.53 for the company that does various collections in our loos. (It always amused me no end that often sanitary ware was sold in public loos by rentokill!! I always thought they poisoned rats!). Anyway I also had a bill for roughly the same amount from BT. I phoned both companies just to check, BT were incredibly helpful (I know, there is a surprise, but credit where credit is due!) and I said can you put the small amount onto my next bill as it will cost me almost that much to write out the cheque and they said of course, which was sensible, did the other company – oh no!! Pratts, that has to be a quick way of losing my business!!

Acer has chewed a big dent in the kitchen table which I was not pleased about, she is more of a chewer than I have ever had before, have to sort that out pronto before Sorrell copies her. And boy can she jump! Which is more than can be said for Sedge who is about as agile as a slug when it comes to jumping!
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Well the concrete was down in the freezer shed by coffee time, teamwork!! Dave was here getting on with the big hedge in the Centre, it is looking good, and Steve, Dick, Jane and Glynn were here so most of the stuff cut went to the bonfire, there is some nasty very prickly hawthorn to get moved tomorrow and things are starting to look OK. We had few visitors today, yesterday was much better, but then the weather forecast was poor and wrong as usual, apart from a shower of rain early on, we had very pleasant weather for the time of year, windy and sunshine, not to be sniffed at. All the birds flew well again. Robin finished sealing the plywood walls in the new aviaries and Holly started to paint them, they are going to look very good. I had yet another one of those days where I raced around and at the end of it wondered what I had done, but my email list is shorter, and I did help with the concreting, and sorted out some bills with Jan.

Oh and my wallet turned up – in the waste paper basket in my office, don’t even ask, I have not a clue, but at least it means I have my driving license and my national insurance number, which is good, plus the wallet and the photo of the dogs!! I dread to think what would have happened if my driving license had gone because a couple of days ago I got an aggressive letter threatening all sorts of dire happenings if I did not answer it and telling me that I should have let DVLC ( which stands for the Department of Very Little Clue) know when I had got rid of my van and as I had not I was therefore liable to fines. I pointed out in a fractionally less aggressive reply that did they mean the van that was sitting happily outside my office window and which I had not got rid of and which in fact I had taxed on their computer system the month before!! So could they please amend their records accordingly and I was looking forward to their letter of apology! (I bet that never comes!)

I am going to take the weather forecast thing from the sidebar on the Weblog, did you see yesterday that it said the minimum temperature today was going to be -18C!!! For heaven’s sake that has to be a little out of range, I wonder if it has the right Newent!
Monday, 1 February 2010

Saturday. No more snow, but it is very cold outside. We had an early phone call about a wild Common Buzzard in trouble, as it was only a few miles away I hoped into the van (remind me when I win the lottery that I am going to build a car shelter for my poor cars, then I won’t have to get frozen hands getting the ice off the windscreen!) and drove over. The light was on for no diesel and as I have no wallet (!) I hoped that it would do the trip and not die on me. Got there OK, it really is a beautiful day, only to be greeted by the chap who called – the buzzard was now sitting on a fence! I forgot the golden rule, tell the person phoning to walk up to the bird first and see if the damn thing flies away!! Oh well, never mind.

If this cold goes on I won’t have to worry about new freezers, I can just put the food outside and it will stay frozen for weeks! This is our last private week-end, as we reopen on Monday. I wish we were further on in terms of things done over the closed period, but the weather beat us, we will just carry on with you all here, don’t stand still for too long or you will probably be handed a spade and pointed at something to dig. Adam has had to go to Newport as he is going to the Netherlands on Wednesday and discovered that his passport has run out!! He is going to go in, do the interview and then go and bicycle somewhere for four hours before he can collect it. Simon is off to Indian again in about 11 days, he is going to help with the incubation of the vulture eggs again, it is all going well at the moment I am glad to say. That means I get to look after our eggs, which I know Simon hates leaving, hope I don’t drop one!! Only joking Simon, I have done it before!!

Monday. First day open – hooray. Its odd, by the end of November we are all looking forward to being closed and being able to get on with jobs and not have to worry about the visitors and by the end of January we are all looking forward to being open again and having the visitors around! And I was speaking to one of the guys who have been doing the major pruning and he said when he was head gardener of a place open to the public they all felt the same, so I guess it is normal. We had visitors, all the birds flew well and some are really coming on all things considered. The shop now has four freezers in there!! The plan was to get the old walk in freezer room out and the new freezers in, needless to say the plan did not quite work out. The old freezer is out and packed neatly in my trailer, the floor is a dreadful mess and the kango hammer has been returned to the hire shop. For those of you who don’t know what a kango (jack) hammer is, its one of those things you see men digging up the road with!! And we needed one to get the freezer box out. It had been put in extremely well, with an insulated floor and the panels concreted in to a depth of four inches. So I now have a box shaped trench in the floor of the freezer shed. We all thought we would not get it done by the end of the day, not that I was much help, apart from the clearing up. But the guys did it!! So it is concreting tomorrow and then the freezers can go in. Hooray. Richard came on Sunday and de electrified the whole building so it was completely safe for us to move the freezer and the freezer chap decommissioned it last week, not that there was much to decommission.

We had a chap here doing a risk assessment for someone who is coming to volunteer from some group or other. Honestly these bloody things are a serious pain and some of the questions are just inane. And no I did not have an equal opportunities whatever it was he wanted, and nor am I going to have either. Anyone coming here has the equal opportunity to work well and be useful and an equal opportunity to leave if they don’t. And they can’t wear ironmongery on their faces, noses, lips eyebrows or anywhere else I can see it either. Its my Centre and I don’t like it!! And its completely equal – no one can!

Adam got his passport OK, in fact he said it went off without a hitch once he had found a post office that opened before 9.00am! Linda came over on Saturday and took some great photos, the moon was amazing that evening, it was pink when it came up – pretty cool.


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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Website counter