Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Oh hellfire and corruption, apparently I now have a programme I don’t want – MR GATES please sack all your staff, Windows whatever I have and Word 10 is utter crap!! I hate it, and once you press the wrong button – easy to do in my case, you get their rubbish and now I have a damn advert in the corner of my screen that won’t go away. I know you are going to give away 99% of your income, but quite frankly you should give some of it to the people you and your miserable staff have frustrated to the point of wanting to throw their NEW computer out of the window, I am going back to my old one and to hell with the extra speed I wanted, in fact I may get a damn Apple just to see if life is easier. Stop changing things it is NOT BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have just noticed that there is a button that says Purchase or Upgrade – there needs to be one that states GO away and leave me alone, I was much happier without you. But of course now half the Word documents I get have a bloody X in the name and can I open them no, not until I get some programme that then completely screws up my computer, and now the damn dog has thrown up on the cream carpet…………….

OK, by the time I got a tissue one of the others ate it! I am not having a good day! Oh that reminds me – a tip, Vanish – the stuff in the god-awful pink containers does not work, it does not work on stains on clothes, at least not the ones I can achieve, and it certainly does not work on carpets, however all is not lost because Rug Doctor does!!

Right I definitely need more alcohol and Adam B, if you are reading this, I think I need a computer doctor as well!

I am a little stressed, life has been tough over the last couple of weeks, we have been busy – that is good, we have been working on the lights in the field for the owl evenings, that is very good, although Richard has said he is never going to put lights underground in grass again and I am never going to dig another bloody hole. The drainage is nearly finished,which is also very good, although the weather today has held us up – rain, but I am not complaining (at least not about the weather!) because we have had a lovely autumn ( this damn advert is driving me nuts) in fact I am going to change programmes - ahhhhhhhhhh bliss, one that is old and works, hooray. Where was I, oh yes, drainage, nearly done, although my lawn does not look quite as smart as it did as the digger has dug its way across it, regardless of that why I should worry I don't know as the horses also went across it the other day and apparently they are incapable of just walking across it, oh no, they have to gallop and leave huge holes, so the digger has just added to the less than smart look to it. However it will recover and we will have a well drained site.

The churned up bits of the field have been rotivated (my new computer has US spelling - why - I have no idea I bought the damn thing in the UK, but there you go, and it does not recognise the word rotivated, it thinks I mean motivated and I have to tell you, my field is not in the slightest bit motivated right now, more soggy!) and I am going to sow grass seed tomorrow, Mark Davies said I will hold the record for the latest sowing, but its great weather for it!

Birds are well and flying superbly I have to say. Adam and I tried out D'Arcy Spice and Gypsy King in the new lights about five days ago and Holly and I tried out Bramley and Hemp last night. They all flew brilliantly in the new lighting, although we tripped over a ton of stuff because it is not yet finished, but I have to say I think the end result is going to be pretty damned good, well worth the effort, so thank you Richard HH, Annabel and all the others who have worked so hard in the cold to get it done.

Cremorne is back on line and flying very well as is Dusky Emperor. And today we moved the baby Steller's from its mum and dad to an enclosure on its own, so it has a couple of weeks to grow up before we start work on it.

OK I need tea and a book to forget the day and bed, in that order!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Flipping Henry where do the weeks go. Its been hectic. The ponds are finished, all I need to do is get the ground power harrowed and seeded and it will look lovely, it already does look very good, much clearer, you can see the water even though the level is not where it should be yet - thank goodness, because it has been very dry. However once we get rain they will both fill and look great. I am pleased we have done it. Mike is just finishing off the new drainage at the top to get rid of my unwanted lake every time it does rain and to take the water from the owl courtyard and we will be done.

At the same time Richard HH has been here and with enormous help from all staff and volunteers the underground lights are going in!! And they are going to be stunning, we tried one line the other night, and it worked much to Richard's relief and my delight. Another few days and they will all be in and we can rehearse the birds ready for the first owl evening at Halloween. Don't miss the owl evenings this winter, we have a great team and new lighting, it should be unforgettable.
The birds are well mostly, we had a lovely little wild Kestrel in, which we think had been ringed in Sweden, at least that is where the address on the ring was, but she was thin and although we got fluids and some food into her she did not manage the night. The female sparrowhawk we have been fighting for, for probably two weeks now, we thought was improving, but she died over night the night before last, which was very disappointing. Two Tawny Owls have come in during the last two days, one too severely injured to survive and the other with a head injury which we just have to give some time and NSAID's and see what the outcome is.
All the birds here are flying well, the Peregrines are loving this cold bright weather, Dusky Emperor is really coming on, Cremorne is flying loose again and Delectable (Vulture) is flying rather more loose than planned!! We have to do some serious rethinking with that one, he or she is getting to be rather too good at flying, although the landings leave a bit to be desired. Dawn Run, one of last years Lanners snatched Holly's sunglasses off the top of her head yesterday and flew round the field twice before gracefully dropping them, I wish I had seen it. Alexandria was on the One Show, which needless to say I missed, but have seen since on BBC Iplayer, and they still had the wrong bird for the last shot. D'arcy Spice upset himself about a week ago and refused to fly, but is now back on line and working well. Eager, my beautiful Long-eared Owl who would only fly for me last year, now will fly for Holly and Adam, but not me!! I am most hurt. Apparently this has been the week for other insults as well, I obviously upset some precious parent last month by telling their children to behave, which I only do if they are spoiling the demonstration for other visitors and the said parent put on some website that I was a barren old witch, I did not mind the witch bit, it would be very cool to be able to fly on a broomstick, the old I sort of disagree with, more middle aged I would say, and as for barren - inaccurate chum!! And if you controlled your own children we would not have to do it! Then one visitor said it was great to have me back at Newent - sort of like having the Godfather back!! Ah well you can never please everyone all the time and I refuse to bow to badly behaved children I am afraid.
I have had two lectures to do in the last week, one outside Bridgewater, which was fun, I had to borrow a car as I still only have my little van, and the other last night at Bristol University for Vet Students I think. I completely forgot I was doing it, and remembered half an hour before I was due to leave and we had fed all the birds!! So we reckoned that Katana would work (Barn Owl) and I took her. She was wonderful, although finding the damn place was a nightmare, she flew brilliantly in the lecture room and was a star.
Simon has been in India for the last ten days, I think he is back tomorrow, although I am not sure, but he is not back to work until Sunday. So next week should be less frantic I hope. We have a five day course this week as well as all the work with diggers and dumpers and hole digging for the lights. I may even get to finish some of my emails, which I am way behind with and get out on Henry. I did actually ride today, for the first time in about two weeks, it was an eventful ride.
Adam has done two external jobs, one at Sudeley Castle for a local fashion magazine called Cotswold Style, Fortina will be on the front cover. Then he went to London with Annabel (volunteer) to do a video for Ministry of Sound (don't ask me I have no idea who they are) with Cool Ground, who is back on duty and flying well, he took Gypsy King (Spectacled Owl) as a rehearsal bird and the shoot went well I think.
Its bitterly cold tonight, a lovely clear sky with a bright moon, all the flying birds are inside, the heat lamps are on for the Secretary Birds, the horses are in and rugged up and munching hay, the dogs are asleep in front of the fire and I have finally got round to doing this again.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Well my beautiful field is not quite so beautiful today. I wanted to clean out the top pond and clear around it. There were five or six scrubby trees that needed to come out, and sadly a beautiful Field Maple that I have been worried about for two years and it was confirmed that it was dying and getting close to dead, so that went too. I am going to plant a new one to replace it. The pond has been dredged (well most of it - more to finish tomorrow) and a huge pile of sludge is now lining the fence of the horse field, it is not attractive, but I am hoping it will dry out quickly and we can spread it and reseed it as the grass there is crap anyway.

We are enlarging the big pond and removing some of the shrubby trees at the front so that we can see water from the flying ground. But it sure is a mess at the moment. I love doing this sort of thing but only when it is finished, I always have that feeling of - oh damn was this a good idea!! at the beginning of the job. But actually the top pond is going to look stunning fairly quickly.

I am still struggling with the new computer, I tried right clicking on the windows thing - in the old programme you could get to all your files and move them around easily, can you do it with the new one - oh no! I don't know where the desk top icon is and there are an increasing number of things that I find don't work. Aggggggggggghhhhhhh, I suppose I ought to be used to it because it always happens when I change computers.

Adam brought down a book called Birds of Prey Winged Master of the Sky, and it is just amazing how bad it is. The photos are a joke because they are so far from the right species that we all fell about laughing at it. I was going to email them and tell them that regardless of the statement at the front that says the publisher, author and editors cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions etc..............well if they deny responsibility who the hell is going to be!! It was published by Chartwell books inc. in the US and Kandour Books in the UK, interestingly you can't find an email address for either publisher, I guess they know how bad this book is!! And Michael Petersen the author should be ashamed of himself. It is sometimes difficult to get the printers to get it 100% right, but this book is amazing it has a staggering 26 photographs that are not the birds that are titled and not the bird he is writing about!!

Its been a lovely day, perfect for messing up the field, and really good flying weather, the peregrines went very well as did most of the other birds. Dusky Emperor is coming on a treat and looks wonderful in the air, my Goshawk is loose, although not quite as obedient as I would like and I chickened out of flying him today, with two diggers and two dumpers in the field, I need to choose a name for him now. And Delectable is wonderful, he can now fly from one bench to the other and gets so excited, the dogs are around when he works and occasionally try to knick he meat! He is a joy to work with and the public seem to like him as he bounces around!

I suspect I will not be riding this week, too much to get done during the day, but I had a good ride yesterday, Henry is always exciting, although not always in ways that I am expecting, however his emergency stop was much more impressive that the Range Rover we met on one of the corners! Nettle seems better, although slowing down fast, I hate it when they get to 12 years old. Still she is still coming down for coffee and lunch, so that bodes well.

Friday, 8 October 2010
I went to the funeral of a friend this week, it was grey and damp, which seems sort of correct for a funeral, Sharon came with me as she had known Kate in 2004 when I was getting ready to go the to the US. There was only one hymn, but it was one I love, I really don’t like modern hymns. I actually miss the church and the services that we had at Eardisland, the church there was very pretty, I was in the choir and Barbara Jones and her husband, my neighbours there, had bought the choir new uniforms, so it was great to wear them. And the services were traditional with proper hymns and prayers, the real deal as it were. I went to one service in the local church here when I got back and was horrified, there was a screen in front of the altar and the words to some completely unknown and modern hymn were put up on the screen, it was awful. I have not been since, which is a shame really.

This service was at the church at Aymestrey near Leominster and it was lovely, and I thought the new Vicar was very good. Sharon knew no one and I only knew Kate’ partner, Heather, so after the service we left, it was starting to rain which was appropriate. Kate was then taken to be cremated, which always seems so much more final than being buried. That makes three people that I know who have died in the last week, and that is the problem with getting older, you get to go to more funerals than weddings. Of course I can’t possibly die for at least another 40 years as it will take me that long to pay off all my debts. I don’t think I want to be cremated though, although being buried has that problem of being buried and not dead. I wonder if my mobile phone would work six feet underground, I guess there is only one way to find out. I did think about one of those panic buttons that my mother had, but that would not work as they relay to a company who then phone you, imagine a phone going off in the coffin during the service, not good. And then there is the hearse, I have already put in my Will that the damn thing is not to go below 70mph, or I will be banging on the lid to tell them to get a move on. So much to think about, still hopefully I will have more time than poor Kate did, she was only 52 which is a crying shame. Its that old story, I had been going to write to her about autumn crocuses, but had not got round to it and now it is too late.

When father died, a ton of people emailed or wrote or phoned and said how much he had done for them and helped them, and made a difference and I told them it was a shame they had not thanked him while he was still alive and when he could have felt appreciated, because once they die, it makes no difference. So Kate, this is to tell you that I will miss you.

I have bought a Land Rover!! At least I will have by the end of next week and it arrives the following weekend - hooray!! Its very nice, and only done 55000 miles and is blue, which is good. I now have to get the trailer matched and painted and the signage done. When I got back I had to run Nettle to the vets, she was not well yesterday and I am glad I did - poor girl she had a temperature of 106 and was most definitely not having a good time. So couple of shots, one to bring down the temperature and a good dose of antibiotics, and pills for a week. This morning she was looking a bit brighter and now is looking much more cheerful, thank goodness.

I have only managed to go riding a couple of times, this week, its been one of those frustrating weeks where I don't seemed to have achieved anywhere near what I would have liked to. However Mark started on Tuesday, and that is already making a difference, which is great. Holly was off for two days on the records course, which I am still not convinced about, the design and the whole ethos, including the damn price for the software is all aimed at very large zoos, not at small places like us. Its overkill, over priced and I suspect not what we need at all. You can see I am not convinced!!!

I have a new computer, to do the records we needed one for Holly and so she gets mine, which will be fine for staff needs, and I get the new faster one. BUT when you buy a new computer nowadays you get Windows 7, and that means no outlook express. I really do not understand software writers, don't they know the old tried and tested and truthful saying, if it aint broke, don't fix it!! I liked Outlook Express, I really liked it and now I have to use Windows Live Mail, and I don't like it half as much. Plus everything is far more complicated that it was, aagggggggggggghhh!! And then there is the usual problem of when you change computers, there are a ton of things that don't work until you (or in my case Adam!!) fixes it. Thanks a million Adam Bloch, its much appreciated (I think!)

And where the hell was the 22 degrees and warmest day in October that we were promised, it did not happen!!

Monday, 4 October 2010
Its been a glorious day, just wonderful, autumn sunshine, vivid and warm, autumn colours on the trees and an autumn warmth to the air. I rode out on Henry after doing the dogs and checking round, it was a lovely ride and we only had one sticky patch and I growled at him, and he moved forward after that. He does not like large puddles though, but on the way back he wanted to get past them so I just let him have his head and he picked his way through! He is so thin skinned though, he has two grazes on him and I have no idea how he got them. Dante is fine and fat, too fat! He is going to have to start doing some work soon, but that is still to come.

We were given a lovely juvenile male Goshawk yesterday, he is going to be Simon’s bird, and is larger than my boy, and in far better feather condition, which would not be difficult at this point, and paler in colour, but I am happy with mine, he is coming on a treat now. We were also given a lovely lovely jack merlin, he is quite stunning in his adult plumage and I really want to find him a mate as he has bred before and I just love merlins, his name is leprechaun so you can guess where he came from originally.

Holly is off on a two day ARKS/ZIMS course tomorrow, this is the computer software system that zoos use, I have to say I have never been impressed with it, and I find it interesting that Zims, the new system has just come out after god knows how many years, and already they are working to ‘upgrade the system’, should it not be new and good if we are paying a bloody fortune for it I ask myself. I am not convinced I could not do better with a good excel file.

All the birds are relishing the sunny day after the rain yesterday, and all have flown well, Dusky Emperor did her first circling flight today, so that bodes well, we need a few windy days and I think she will get the idea. I am getting Hemp (Eurasian Eagle Owl) going again for the Owl Evenings and Eager (Long-eared Owl) who apparently is not in the slightest bit eager to start work again! Casper has finished moulting and so is going to come back into work for the winter, he is a perfect winter bird and if the weather men are right and we are going to get another winter like the last one, he will do well.

I think we are going to leave changing the flying times for one more week and start on the winter times next Monday, its been so nice it has seemed a shame to change the times at this point, however the light is starting to go earlier so it has to happen soon.

Peter Dowle’s team are starting in the garden tomorrow, I have given him a budget for new plants, not enough, but some, and they are going to move some around in the next week, while we can still see what is there. I love the garden and find it very exciting to do things in there that change it and improve it.

The compost heap walls are done and we are going to move the old compost/muck heap into one side on Thursday and then next week we are starting to clear the top pond and enlarge the bottom one, and then that will be it for work for Mike Turner, who has been here a year now!! Its all exciting stuff, oh and the play area is down, leveled and ready for grass seed and then we build the new one!
Delectable (Griffon Vulture) is coming on in leaps and bounds - literally! He comes straight out of his aviary now (and Sorrel immediatly gets in and eats all the left overs!) and bounces around the grass under the Turkey Oak, he flies to the benches with no problems now and nearly landed on Adam's fist yesterday. He is now going back in fairly readily, and is just a joy to work with, you can tell he is fun because all the staff have a grin on thier faces when he is out. What a pleasure to have him survive to work and well done Neil Forbes for fixing him and my staff for the enormous care they all gave him.

Sunday, 3 October 2010
I am not sure that I actually have a properly waterproof coat, on Friday I went through 3 coats, all hanging dripping in the kitchen after use, and today I am on my second. Mind you I think there is an excuse for the first one not working as I had left it over the stable door the night before last. When I went down first thing yesterday, both horses were in the stable yard, and had been for most of the night I suspect, looking at the amount of droppings spread liberally over the concrete, they had also sneakily managed to eat all the hay from their hay nets from the outside – clever, but not to be repeated as the hay nets have now been moved to the back of their stables, so that little game is fixed. However as well as eating all their hay, they must have (I suspect Henry on this one) picked up my coat, dragged it through most of the droppings and then trodden on it! The only way to get it better again was the washing machine, which means I may have removed the waterproofing, it was a barbour, but one of the newer ones (well less than 10 years old!) and very crackly when you worn it, I did not like it much, but it is much softer since the washing machine, just not waterproof!! The horses continued their day of playing up by breaking the fence down and getting into the flying field – again. So now the fence has more poles, which it should have had in the first place – my fault, and the overflow car park had it new gates so they went in there for the day yesterday and were delighted with all the grass.

We actually had to give up on the falcon day on Friday, the rain was so persistent, we got most of it done, but have asked the three people to come back for the last session on another day, it was getting to not be fun. Luckily yesterday was lovely and so the hawk day went fine. However this morning it is wet again, so I did not get out for a ride.

I have finally caught up on emails, and a little other work, I need to get some stuff for our website done and for the RRF website as well, and clear my desk, then it will be time to start some serious writing again, which I have not done for a long while now. That is planned for when Mark Parker starts as I hope to have more free time at that point. Plus I am putting a wood burning stove in my office soon, as I promised my sister I would and it will make it a great deal more pleasant to work in during the day, plus be a sensible and conserving way of using all the wood I have.

The birds are doing fine, Dusky Emperor is now flying free and is looking like being rather good, which is great. We had a very nice lady Dr Emily Shepard from Swansea University here this week trying out some data loggers on some of the birds. Adam’s Harris Hawk did a good job for us, as did Dusky Emperor and Pinotage, however Alexandria must have pulled off the connection to the battery as it did not log her performance, which was a shame, however hopefully we will try with some other birds at a later date.

My goshawk is coming on in leaps and bounds, he has no tail worth talking about because having arrived with three broken tail feathers some of the others have gone, but I want to get him fully trained and flying loose before fixing it. We showed him a dead rabbit yesterday, and that did not take long for him to decide it was fun to chase and catch. Even without a tail he is very agile in the air and can turn on a sixpence I am looking forward to getting him loose and out hunting. We have been working with Delectable, our baby Griffon Vulture, he now comes out of the aviary onto the grass by the Turkey Oak, has learned to fly onto the benches under there, gets very excited by the whole thing and yesterday we brought the visitors up after the last bird on the 2.00pm demonstration and they watched him do his stuff, it was his first official demonstration and he was brilliant, and goes back into his aviary for a rat!

Louise and Paul and Lucy – founder members visited yesterday and ended up helping in the café – again, we treat our founder members so well!! Still, as Louise said, if not here she would be doing the ironing! I am not sure I even have an iron…………..

So now its raining again but the trees need it and are pleased to have lots to drink, the birds are dry because our aviaries are completed rooved over and in weather like this I am always pleased that they are, the horses are in because they were looking miserable and Sedge is not impressed with the weather, he is most certainly a fair weather dog! Its time to get on with the newsletter which needs to be done to encourage people to come on the owl evenings which are fast approaching now it is October!

Footnote; most of the photos I use are Linda Wrights, however some as you will see are by others, usually wonderful visitors who become friends, if I ever do not credit the right person, please forgive me and let me know and I will correct it. Just a few photos are mine, but usually not the birds as it is impossible to photograph them and fly them at the same time!


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

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

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

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

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



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