Sunday, 28 March 2010
Most of Friday was spent filming with Tigress Films who are making a film about the vulture story in the Indian Subcontinent, which is good, I have never understood why the BBC have not taken up what is an amazing story. Which reminds me we were all fuming at coffee yesterday as some of us had watched the documentary film on top predators, it was dreadful!!! It was inaccurate, the peregrine in the film kept changing from an adult to a juvenile bird and back again and it was the usual crap that is given out about Peregrines, very annoying and you wonder why they don’t get their facts straight and film the right aged bird!!

Whatever………… as always with filming, much of the day was taken up with getting ready and then interviews. The baby vulture behaved beautifully, of course and even the turkey vultures were filmed, but I don’t know if they will use it. They were rather nervous about having a film crew in their enclosure with them! The female Eurasian Griffon Vulture sat on her wooden egg for most of the filming only getting off to have an argument with one of the other birds. I am seriously thinking of splitting up the two pairs, but we are not sure which is the breeding male, to that makes it a little difficult to say the least.

Very sadly we had to have our extremely elderly Ruppells vulture euthanized this week, she was almost blind, very lame from arthritis and it was the right thing to do, but we will miss her as she was a nice old lady. Not at all sadly the hybrid vulture went to a friend of mine this week as well. He was not a pleasant bird with the other vultures and I am delighted that he has gone, he is actually going to have a good time as he is going to be flown, Andrew trained and flew his brother, so he knows what he is doing and Caffrey will have a very large enclosure all to himself which will suit his temperament!! Now the single Lappet-faced Vulture is on her own and I need to try and find her a mate as she is a wonderful bird.

We had a hunting day on Friday which went fine, and we were very lucky with the rain which was intermittent enough not to be a problem. We had a hawk day on Saturday and the sun was out intermittently! The only down side of these experience days is that it is difficult to get all the birds flown either because of time constrictions, or the field being in use for the course. Oh to win the lottery and have lots of land, so we could fly birds in more than one area at a time.

It was a glorious morning on Sunday morning, although I managed to get the time all wrong, two good friends came to stay unexpectedly so we had a convivial evening, but they had to leave at 7.00am for Martin to catch a plane, so that would be 6.00am because the clocks changed, so I said I would get them up at 6.30am to leave at 7.00, which was really 6.00, but unfortunately got it wrong and got up at 5.30am which was really 4.30am or was it, I have no bloody idea and I am completely mixed up time wise now.

A good friend of mine in Spain has just had his Golden Eagle stolen, so if anyone hears anything or knows of a Canadensis Golden Eagle that is somewhere it should not be, let me know, there is a reward for finding him. I loath people who steal birds, I think they are the lowest of the low. The people in South Carolina tried their best to steal my birds when they went to USFWS and persuaded them not to allow me to do the application to bring them back to the UK, dirty dirty tricks – but to be expected sadly.

It’s a grey start to the day today, just what we need for the Easter holidays damn it. Lets hope they are wrong about snow later in the week and that the weekend will be a good one. They were wrong about the weather yesterday, we had a lovely day.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
I am told that I need to update my Weblog!! So here we are, my problem is often that by the time I finish work, both outside, which is usually about 6.00pm or sometimes a little later and will get later as the season goes on, and then the inside work, i.e. emails and stuff that I am supposed to be writing, let alone the three books I am working on, I often don’t feel like doing anything except watching mindless TV. So apologies when there is a gap, it’s because I am getting old and tired!!

It is pissing with rain, the hardest rain we have had for a while and the drains are holding up! Hooray, a couple need some alteration, but generally the paths are going to be a joy to look after now this has been done.

On Monday Mike and I were having fun playing with sewage, quite my favourite job, this time it was the men’s urinals for a change. I won’t go into detail, suffice it to say that after some hard work with drain rods, a screw driver and the hosepipe, plus a good bucket of hot water and disinfectant, the problem was solved, swiftly followed by a shower!

The birds are doing well, I did ground Fortina as she was sitting again, so her auntie Alexandria is out and already flying loose. I also switched Mosquito with his brother, he just was not interested in flying, and his brother is fairly annoyed at coming out, but will be fine, I don’t remember flying him at all so it will be an experience. Both Theft and Deception (the Yellow-billed Kites names after the bird of prey center in South Carolina) are out as is Milan the Black Kite. The two tawny eagles are out and one of the Red Kites, so the Hawk Walk is full bar two compartments.

We had a party of French children here yesterday and the idiot bus driver, who should be sacked and would be if he were British I suspect, refused to take the bus round the corners at the end of our road, he must have seen the local school bus manage to drive round it later, the prat, and he made the children walk which is disgraceful. And then last night we had a special Owl Evening for a group who had asked specifically for one for them, I hope they enjoyed it, it was difficult to tell.

Today I had one of those days where I am not sure what I did, but I was running around a lot. We have started on the weighing room extension, which is very exciting, but rain set in by mid afternoon and so we went into the house to sort feathers, my least favourite job. However it was made much easier because Angela brought up a bottle of what she thought was bubble bath, from Joan and Iloana, and I have to say, if you did not understand Dutch and we don’t, it looked like the label was saying bubble bath. However I was convinced that you would not put bubble bath in a champagne type bottle, so I opened it, and I was right, it was a non alcoholic strawberry drink, which I have to say was a little sweet for my taste, however a large slug of gin improved it no end and made the feather sorting much more fun!

The trees are slowly beginning to leaf, its lovely to see the faint green halo with some of the earlier ones, such as the willows, and the pussy willow is out. A good friend of mine has heard a cuckoo, and one of the staff here saw a swallow today. I bumped into a newt in the kitchen last night as well, it did not say why it was there, so I gently put it out in the flower bed. The dogs frightened me to death on Monday morning, I came into the kitchen where five of them sleep and there was a dreadful smell, which at first I thought was either one of them, or the rubbish bin, but no, it was the gas cooker, Acer had turned on one of the burners on the top and forgotten to light it, silly dog, what a mistake!! And what a good job it was daylight and I did not turn on a light or you might not be reading this. I have had a word with her about it, and shown her where the matches are kept if she has to do it.

We have had two injured birds in this week, a Sparrowhawk from just up the road, which I spend sometime ploughing around in a bramble bed and failing to catch, so John and Adam went up and caught her easily, of course I had already done all the hard work! My legs are a testament to it, with scratches all over. Sadly she died two days later, even though she had started to feed, we suspect a head injury as she was much quieter than an adult female Sparrowhawk should be. The other was a Tawny Owl who has a fractured Ulna but the radius is holding it in place and so he should be fine and go back to the wild in a couple of weeks.

OK enough of this, I have to get back to work on my computer.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
We are now testing the drainage!!! It is raining, it has been a sort of mizzly day for much of the day, however we had a Hawk Experience Day and actually the rain stopped on and off for most of the time we were out, so I can’t complain, and the birds flew very well. All that is except Fortina (Peregrine) who sat down again, so I am grounding her and Simon and I will get her aunty out tomorrow, along with a couple of other birds to join the team

Buckwheat and Alfalfa are going really well, I am delighted with them and hope that they will be on demonstration by the end of this coming week, they are both very good, they would be even better if Buckwheat stopped trying to bully Alfalfa and in New World Vultures the males are the larger bird, so he gets the better of her. Talking of New World Vultures, Real is definitely better, we gave her her last injection today, thank goodness and she is starting to eat again well, so hopefully we are past the danger point and she will start to feel more herself again.

Saturn, the baby African Spotted Eagle Owl ( brother to Saluda MC!) is a sweety and is doing a great demonstration, OK he is only hopping about a foot, but at six weeks old that is pretty damn good.

One of the people on the course was a teacher, a really nice girl and we were talking about how difficult it is to be a teacher these days. You know, the country has gone nuts, and those in control shouldn’t be. You can no longer call it Ba ba Black Sheep, it has to be Ba ba rainbow sheep, you are not allowed to call it a Black board, or a White board, you can’t tell a child they are wrong…………good god WHY NOT!! They are going to be wrong, they are going to be told they are wrong when they are adults, stop giving children this ridiculous treatment. They need and want discipline, I guarantee it.

One teacher friend of mine told me that at a parents meeting when she suggested that one child just needed to listen a bit more and she would do much better, the parent replied that he was told by his child that she did not explain it right. Are parents calling the teachers liars ???????????????? Are they nuts, who out of the two do they think is telling the truth, why would the teacher lie, and sure as hell the child will. Think back, did you tell your parents all the truth about what you did at school, NO of course you didn’t, you doctored the truth as all children do. We are breeding generations of children who have no respect, and if the parents do not respect the teachers how the hell can you expect the children to do so.

When I was at school we were horrified if we got sent to the head, now six year olds don’t give a toss and it is the responsibility of this society who apparently believes that children can never be wrong, should never be corrected or controlled and it is such a shame, no I will put that more strongly it is criminal because in the end all of us pay for it. Bullying of the elderly and the disabled - that starts with a lack of respect for all. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great parents out there and some wonderful children, but mark my words, lack of discipline leads to nothing but problems for everyone in the country.

OK rant over, its still raining, but hopefully the weather will return to wonderful again tomorrow. The daffodils are coming out and spring is on its way. Rupert and Rory are doing well and growing as you will see by the not very good photo! Deception the kite is now on duty and going well, and we are going to add in three others to fly with him, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Real is home, she is not feeling that perky, which is not surprising as it was a big operation. She is on (or was on) Noroclav twice a day orally, but most of the birds can taste it and she would not eat the mice that were laced with it, so Simon and I, with back up from Robin had to force her to take the medicine. Now I have to tell you that forcing an Andean Condor to do anything is not easy and the chances are it will be painful to those doing it, and it was. I caught her up and my double thickness glove does save my skin, but that is about all, she was very annoyed and not backward in showing it. I got her head, the important bit of a Condor and Robin held her body – the easy bit!! And Simon endevoured to open her beak, a mammoth task in itself, and hold it open while I pushed the mice down. On completion, Simon got bitten while trying to get his fingers out of her beak, Robin got away unscathed and she bit me after I had released her, which I guess is fair enough, but it was painful.

So I phoned Neil and asked if there was another way we could do this, and we are going for a less difficult method, although she will have to be caught up - I may never play the piano again, but as US Fish and Wildlife Service took the damn ivory off my piano, and I have not had any more put on yet because I can’t afford it, it probably won’t matter. And USFWS………….. will I forget and ever let go of the topic, probably not, I am female after all.

We just have one more area to put drainage in before we stop, there are areas where we can’t work until after the breeding season. So as there is rain forecast we cleared the sheep field, tidied up the compost heaps into one, and cleared the fire, and took down the last of the fences left by the previous owner. It is all looking pretty damn smart. It was a much warmer day today, very spring like and the birds (LBJs that is) were singing away, it was a pleasure to hear them. The new fence is half, no, over half up in the owl court yard, and things are moving on. All we need now is more visitors, and we will make it through yet another season.
The young African Spotted Eagle Owl is called Saturn after an apple and now doing demonstrations, he is a sweety and will be very good. And Adam finally chose a name for his eagle, and damn me, I can't remember what it is right now!! Ah well bedtime I reckon.
Monday, 15 March 2010

More of Monday

Had to go to hospital for an endoscopy today, which I am pleased to say was clear. There are a few things you might want to know about one. Firstly they are far better than a colonoscopy, or at least they are if you do it right, although come to think of it the day before a colonoscopy is by far the worst part of one. It is then you realise that your loo paper is no where near as soft as you thought it was, and that really it is best not to be too far from the loo at any one point in the day. And why is it that the doctor who does your colonoscopy is the best looking doctor you have seen for ages, its grossly unfair, they ought to be ugly, or unpleasant or something, and as for offering to allow you to see the screen with the whole thing in glorious technicolour – don’t do it! However back to the endoscopy, they give you a choice of an anesthetic spray at the back of your throat, or an injection which makes you dopey. My doctor, who is great, said it was the date rape drug, and made you unaware, however at the hospital they also said that it meant you had to have an adult with you for 24 hours, well that meant that I could not get on with things for the rest of the day and I had stuff to do, and so I opted for the spray – wrong choice, should have gone for unaware!!

Apart from the fact that it tastes pretty unpleasant, I am not convinced that the spray makes you numb, at least my body did not think it did and happily went into vomiting mode for most of the procedure. They give you a plastic thing to bite on so you don’t break the expensive tube and camera or bite the doctor, which is a very good thing otherwise I would still have the damn tube inside me, severed at about 12 inches, and the doctor would have been injured. I found it difficult at the end of the procedure to unlock my teeth from it, so I dread to think what would have happened had it not been there. The people could not have been nicer, of course before you have it done you are nervous, during it you can’t say a thing and afterwards, however nice they are, you don’t really feel like being vociferously grateful, although I was grateful let me say. At least I was grateful to know that all was well.

Still at least I wasn’t dopey and managed to come back and do the 1.30 demonstration with no problems apart from a somewhat uncomfortable throat. Pinotage the Egyptian Vulture went loose today and did a great demonstration, as did Deception the Yellow-billed Kite, so that is two more for demo’s. The Turkey Vultures are coming on and we got everyone flown, which gets trickier as the numbers go up.

I spoke to Neil Forbes about Real, the Condor before I went to the hospital, and he said that it is rare that they have to operate, well guess what!! He had to operate, however it was a very good thing he did as there were adhesion's in her oviduct, so she would never have laid the egg and it would have killed her. He removed the ovaries as we did not want the whole thing to happen again next year and she would never lay eggs again anyway and we will go and collect her tomorrow.

All in all an interesting day, and all the money we earned at the weekend will pay for Real, but, she is worth it!

Gosh that was a tough week, a ton of things to do and a five day course, a half day experience day and a full day experience, plus the normal things to do and a trip to London! All three of the courses went well, we had five on the five day which is a good number and they all did well and enjoyed it I am told! We had great weather, not one damp day, cold some of the time but clear and sunny and it is another glorious morning today.

The rabbits were a story last week, Rupert scared us to death on Tuesday as I looked in their box only to find two rabbits, Rupert was missing – in a room full of five eating rabbit dogs. He had climbed out of the box and fallen behind the cupboard, luckily he had not moved out or he would not have survived to tell the tail. They then all got moved to a sky kennel after that. Very sadly Roger leaped out the kennel on Friday as I opened the door, he seemed fine and was eating lettuce, but died about ten minutes later which was upsetting for all, I buried him next to Randal. The other two have got off with Ann and Peter Gosling who stayed with me over the course, and they fell for the rabbits, who will have a much higher chance of a long life with them than here! I do miss them though.

The baby vulture is doing very well, feeding easily, growing fast and very pretty (yes it is!) we will make a decision on putting it back in the next week, dependant on the weather. The breeding season is behind because of the weather, as indeed is spring, I still have no daffodils out, although they are up and green, but no yellow.

The drainage is coming on, Mike has almost done outside the café and I hope that we will finish as much as we are able to do by the end of this week, meaning we can move onto the weigh room. Mozart’s block is stained black and looking good, Iloana, Joan’s mother did much of the painting, and has been gardening for much of this week. Tom has finished the fence and gate at the top of the Hawk Walk and will finish the bottom side this week, and then that job will be complete. Friends and visitors are commenting on how good the Centre is looking, Nathan has already got the grass looking wonderful and this after a hard winter.

The Tawny Owl that came in having gone down someone’s chimney was well enough to release so that has gone, and we are starting to see the wild buzzards soaring again, which is very good to see. The wild Kestrels are about again and we have seen a couple of wild Peregrines over, plus Sparrowhawks and Goshawks that nest close by.

With all the dry weather we have been able to fly everyone daily and they are all coming on, and more birds are coming out this week, Hare and Hard Tackle the Tawny Eagles, plus Watamu the Verreaux’s Eagle, who will be added to the flying team, plus Copper, and the Turkey Vultures. We are going to be busy.

Yesterday was a stunning day, the place looked good, lots of nice visitors for Mothers Day, the only downside was Real the Condor, she was not looking well and Simon was worried about her, so we caught her up, she was not pleased and checked her and as suspected we could feel an egg. So I phoned Great Western Referrals, and off she and Simon went. She does have an egg there, she was dehydrated and so was given fluids and improved, she stayed overnight, is well, but has still not produced the egg this morning, although it is much further down the oviduct, so hopefully it will be reachable under anesthetic this morning.

We have a quieter week this week, of course I should never say that, because it will immediately change, and I hope that before it rains we will have got the paths back and the car park spic and span ready for a wonderful Easter!

Monday, 8 March 2010
Birthday went fine, and I had some lovely presents and some lovely flowers and Joan and her mother arrived as a surprise, and it was a surprise, a very nice one. Mozart seems happy in his new enclosure, he is not getting up onto the perches yet, but has so much more human company and loves being the centre of attention. The others are in too, so the block is full and they all seem very settled and happy in there, and look wonderful. On Sunday various friends and volunteers stained the outside black, and it is looking pretty damn good and today (Monday) Tom continued to work on the gates at the end of the Hawk Walk. Adam also managed to get the posts for the standoff barrier up on one side of the Owl Courtyard (with help needless to say) and on Sat and Sun he and lots of help from volunteers got the trench dug to take the water away from Barn 3 and 4, so that will be great, we should get rid of the ice slick on the way to the café which will make for a safer but less interesting walk on a cold morning!

On Sunday John and I went to the other side of Pembridge near Leominster and did a demonstration for a birthday party. The children were nice and very excited and all the birds behaved themselves very well, it was their first trip away from home for months for some of them and the first ever for a couple like the Lugger. My Ranger Rover is still not driveable, so Tony Buckland lent me a Landrover Defender – I want one!!!! It was like being Cinderella, my little van disappeared and a Landrover Defender appeared and then today, the Landrover disappeared and my van came back like the pumpkin damn it! Ah well it was fun while it lasted, sort of like having an extra birthday present for a bit!

We now have a five day falconry course with five very nice people on it, and the first day went well, it was bloody cold, we are having hard frosts, but the sun was out and the sky blue, and all the birds did well and flew nicely. And guess what I have got!!

Simon just hatched a baby Eurasian Griffon Vulture – hooray, it is about two hours old as I write and here is a picture. It is the first one we have hatched in the UK, having bred one before. But last year we did not hatch the egg, however this one is out and there is another egg in the incubator. So things are looking up for the breeding season.

We also chose the theme for the birds name for this year, English Apples.
Friday, 5 March 2010
Mozart made it home today finally!! Yes of course he has been with me all the time, in fact when I was living in the freezing cold barn at Eardisland, which I have to say was pretty awful, he was there too, and good company he was. But today we finished the replacement enclosures at the end of the Hawk Walk, and that is where he used to live from 1974 when he was old enough to live outside. And now he is back. He used to love it there because it has the highest traffic of people and so he always had people to talk to. It’s a very nice new enclosure for him, with four others for some of the other owls, I hope he can manage. I showed him all the perches and where the wire mesh was, and he seemed to get the idea.

We will get the others in tomorrow. I had a day of bits again and ended up being extremely ratty by the time I left Ledbury. Returning a hire tool to Brandon Hire – went well, taking a collar that I had bought for Sedge back and asking to change it for a larger size at a shop called Pioneer was less successful. Which considering I had spent over £100 on six collars and dog food was rather short sighted of them as I will not be going back there again. Because it did not have the plastic bit on, they would not take it back, because apparently people would not buy it. When are shops going to understand that we don’t want bloody plastic packaging, we have to get rid of it and soon will have to pay no doubt. The amount of plastic used in putting tags or packaging that no one wants is ridiculous.

Next stop was the Post Office which is at the back of a shop, the lady serving me kept looking behind me and saying to her compatriot – there is a dog, it’s a big dog, dogs are not supposed to be in here. She would have done better to concentrate on serving the customer! So someone came out and told the owner that dogs were not allowed. Now this was not a large dog, it was a very quiet well behaved elderly English Setter. And I found it very annoying that they would make all that fuss, so I rather tactlessly pointed out that I could not understand why dogs were banned and children were not. Particularly as these days most dogs were better behaved. She said that children don’t lift their leg and pee, I did not bother to point out that they probably did far worse or that only male dogs did that. I did however point out that I have to suffer using supermarket trolleys that have probably had some child with a dirty nappy sitting in it and then I have to put my food in there!! I think she did not like me!

So then to the supermarket and apparently I spent money, but have nothing to eat this evening, I am never sure how that happens. On the way out it took three changes of traffic lights to get past the cross roads because some complete idiot in planning has put a pedestrian crossing with lights just before them, and of course as the lights for moving go green, the pedestrian lights go red!! Great idea!

So I drove home grumpy and swearing I would never to go Ledbury again, I suspect I will, but not on a Friday afternoon that is for sure. Its my birthday tomorrow, that is probably why I am grumpy, after all who wants to be older!! But it was great to get Mozart moved, the birds flew well, the weather was lovely, and three of our Founder Members came and visited, it was good to see them, and Louise fixed the Weblog, which was behaving oddly, I had to get rid of my fish and penguins, they were the problem.

The water in the car park is sorted out I hope, the next rain will tell. Its ironic that I pay a fortune for using water (and I do, I am seriously considering getting a bore hole) and more fortune getting rid of the stuff!!

Adam’s eagle comes on in leaps and bounds, he was very good today, and the baby owl is a sweety. Tonight it is much warmer than it has been, we have had a few pretty frosty mornings, but spring is on its way.
Thursday, 4 March 2010

Talking of wheelchairs, Sedge has not really met them before, and now he can jump (Adam said that the removal of his ‘bits’ reduced his weight and helped his jumping!!) he thinks that all wheelchairs are for him to sit in, regardless of whether or not the people in them like him. So far they have not minded, but I have to persuade him that not everyone will enjoy having him on their lap.

Sorrell is doing really well, she is a charmer, and now barks to go out in the evening which is a huge bonus, mind you, she barks whenever she wants something, which is quite often! Acer is a serious hunter, she has spent the last two days making the single Moorhen on the pond have a miserable time, I keep telling it, it would do much better to move home.

The rabbits are doing well, at least three of them are, sadly Randal died, and is buried in the Centre, Rupert is more difficult to feed, but is still with us and Roger and Rory are racing ahead. Holly took them home the other night to give me a break from them, and got them to eat Shreddies and a Cheerio as well!! Junk food at three weeks, she went on line and we think they were probably only about three days old when we found them.

We have been trying to find a leak in the car park that is now coming out in the back drive of the house, so Mike dug a huge hole and we found a large and very blocked land drain, so we have to sort that out tomorrow, but at least I know now it is not a leak from the mains, and it is sortable, although the repairs will be messy. Slowly we are getting the whole place much drier, which is wonderful.

Mozart’s new block is nearly finished, it is looking great and the stain has arrived so we can
finish off the outside, I am looking forward to putting him in and seeing if he will cope and like it. It is where he always used to be and I think that will please him as he will have much more company, we will have to see.

A new female Burrowing Owl has arrived curtsey of London Zoo, well two actually, but the female is important for our male, however he apparently did not appreciate her, so we took him out, to get her to settle and then will try reintroducing them again – bad tempered little sod, he should have been grateful!

The birds are flying well, we are managing to get them all done now the snow has gone, and with no rain, although we are having to put them all in at night because it is still very cold. Simon and Holly got out one of the Yellow billed Kites – Deception – and also Mosquito, my Saker, so they will be added to the team, if the weather warms up a little I will get one of the eagles going, Oh and Adam’s Steppe Eagle went loose for the first time yesterday and is going to be very good! Now he can have a name, he will have to be a last year's theme name - winning Racehorses, but this year the theme is English Apples!


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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