Friday, 30 December 2011
The problem with a new series being hyped up is that often one can be disappointed, and although much of the new Earth Flight was wonderful photography and it was, I wish they would use experts in the editing because the Bald Eagle turned into the legs of an African Fish Eagle, I have grave doubts about some of the dubbed on sound as I have never heard a Bald Eagle make some of the noises we heard, and I have lived with them for many years. Bald Eagles don’t normally follow migrating Coots in the spring as they are usually busy breeding. The imprinted Snow Geese and Pelicans did some lovely flying, but I have never seen geese fly that low to the ground on migration, unless of course they are following a camera car. The feather condition on some of the Pelicans was not good, which should have been noticed, and like some of the chase stuff in the Frozen Planet I do have concerns that the behaviour of animals and birds is affected by camera men chasing them in helicopters.

On the other hand I thought it was absolutely great that they filmed the tiny polar bear cubs in the snow cave in captivity, I think that was the responsible thing to do, rather than risking upsetting a wild mother. You have to consider what effect filming has on wildlife and anyone who tells you that it has no effect with some of the stuff we are seeing these days is not telling the truth, or worse, does not understand what effect they are having.

I am sure that this will not necessarily make me popular with wildlife film makers, but guys, come to the experts and we will stop you making stupid mistakes!! And never ever think that there is anything wrong in filming trained animals – particularly and I mean particularly if they are trained to work anyway. I often wonder what happens to the animals trained purely for a wildlife film, where will the imprinted geese go? Will they be still able to fly, what will happen to them and the Brown Pelicans? The reason I have concerns is because I know that at least two people have been prosecuted for cruelty to Harry Potter owls after the films were finished and the owls passed on, and I predicted that would happen before Warner Brothers even starting filming the first one, and even told them so when I refused to sell them owls.

As I appear to be having a moan, it is interesting to note that the weather forecast is wrong again. It’s a good job we are not open as they would have put off all customers and its now 1.30pm and still no predicted heavy rain and winds. I think that weather forecasting should be banned!!! Come to think of it I am pretty sure that all this awful depressing news is partly responsible for the recession, we are being talked into it guys!

OK last bitch for 2011, and apologies if I have upset someone, I undoubtedly have!! Its not raining, we are thinning Danny’s Wood, and it is starting to look great, we will be able to fly the owls through it much better now. In the meantime I have got myself covered in black stain but finished staining the end of the stable block and now I am going to get covered in blue paint and do some more to the trailer!
Thursday, 29 December 2011
It was a beautiful day yesterday, mild, sunny, warm and completely unlike winter! Christmas was fun, I had Christmas lunch with Alice and James, then Boxing Day supper with John Crooks and family and then supper with Sally and David and friends on the 27th – positively leading the high life!! I had some lovely presents too.

Holly came over to collect a parcel – she has been internet shopping – again!! So we took the dogs for a walk and had lunch. I bought half a Stilton and a whole medium sized brie from Waitrose, I have to say that the Stilton was very good, and nearly gone and the brie was poor. I try not to keep cheese in the fridge, I usually open the packaging as I don’t think that plastic does it any good and put it in the larder, which is cool with a new damp J Cloth over it. The brie was awful, it was rubbery, never ripened and was so disappointing that I binned it, which I really do not like to do. I have come to the conclusion that if you want cheese you need to go to a proper cheese shop!

The freezer is behaving itself, which is very good to know, and Simon has been looking after the birds, he put all the falcons out for a bath yesterday and they all leapt in, and Casper was drenched. It’s nice not to have to worry about freezing weather!

Today I painted black stain and blue gloss paint for most of the day, I wanted to finish the outside of the doors on the tractor shed, so they are now done and I started on the outside of the stables which badly need a new coat of paint, plus it being our 45 birthday next year I want everything to look smart. After lunch and a walk with the dogs - you can't get away without a walk at this time of the year, I put the top coat on the trailer, or started to. The blue is brighter than I wanted so I mixed in some of the grey undercoat, but I think it will look OK, I want to get it finished tomorrow, as it is supposed to get colder next week and then the paint takes forever to dry. It was windy as hell but that made the black stain dry all the quicker.

David Kenworthy and his brother arrived in the morning and started on thinning the trees in the wood, it is going to look very good when it is done and I had a brainwave about the soil that we have spare out of the compartments in the Hawk Walk. Where the dog graves are the ground is very unlevel, it sinks over time over the graves and it is not possible to keep it looking smart, so I am going to use some of the soil to level the whole area and then plant it with woodland plants for the dogs. Aster will be coming home soon so I need to get it smart for him.

So tomorrow which I think is Friday (its very confusing as to what day of the week it is, I never know these days!) I should finish off the trailer and get some more of the stables done depending on the wind, and maybe over the weekend start on the outside of the freezer shed. There is also a part of me that wants to paint the walls of the compost heap............... hummmmmmmm, not sure about that, but I think it would work if I choose the right colour........
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Its Christmas Eve, I have taken out the live Christmas tree in the shop as it would not have survived in there for another ten days, it is outside and had a good drink, so I hope it recovers. I have hoovered the shop and the stock room and done two late experience day vouchers as presents, which I will post late tonight and they have something to print out on email for the day.

I have tidied the house, lit the fire in the sitting room and the library (my office) there is food on the table in the dining room and candle lights outside for people to see the way in. I am having a small thank you and celebration with neighbours and friends, which I did last year and it was fun, so we are having another go this evening. The dogs are confused, all this action and as yet no one here!! I guess people will arrive soon. Its so very different from last year when it was freezing cold with ice and snow everywhere. Now it is positively mild.

Mollie is doing well with the people who are trying her out, at least I think she is. I do miss having her here, it’s a hole without a horse! However it does mean I don’t feel guilty if I don’t ride, which I doubt I would have had time today.

All the chest freezers have gone and can you believe it as soon as the last one went the new freezer went wrong. However the company sent someone from Gloucester and he managed to fix it – although it took a couple of days. But now it is running OK again thank goodness.

Very sadly we lost our old breeding Verreaux’s Eagle female, she was 32 years old, so I guess that is a reasonable age. However by sheer chance a friend has lost his male out of the pair and so the female is going to come here, I hope they like one another.

The last Owl evening of the year went well, we had a lovely clear crisp night, the guided tours were good, the hog roast excellent and the birds flew very well, they were delighted to be fed huge amounts at the end of the evening as they do not have to fly again until January 3rd next year!

My drinks party went well I hope, I enjoyed it anyway, most of the people invited - came, and most of the food went, to the disappointment of the dogs, who behaved very well. The house looked lovely and the mulled wine went down  easily! Everyone had left by about 9.00pm and as I can’t bear the thought of clearing up the next day, I had washed up, cleared, polished the dining table, hoovered everywhere and generally got the place back to normal all by 10.00pm, just a little too organised I think, but there you go.

Christmas is round the corner, it’s a wonderful time of the year, so a Merry Christmas to all and I hope you enjoy the next chapter of Mozart’s Story.

Its now Christmas day, the house is quiet, it is trying to rain, I have just got back from midnight mass at the local church, there was no organist, which was a shame. Christmas is here........




Sunday, 18 December 2011
I don’t have a spam filter on my emails because I am concerned about missing ones that might be money!!! However some of the ones that I get really piss me off. I get so tired of getting ones for Viagra. You would think that at the very least they would only send them to men!! I don’t want Viagra, come to think of it, I would not be happy if any male I had any relationship with took the bloody stuff, the very thought horrifies me, and to my knowledge the results of it either horrifies or bores every female I know, why do men think it is a good idea – believe me chaps, it aint!!

The freezer is working beautifully, three of the chest freezers have gone and I am advertising the last two on EBay, its good, but more complicated than I can manage!! The building is about finished inside apart from lights and the freezer will be filled tomorrow with bird food, so after that I will not have to worry about the weather.

Not that it has been bad, we did get a sprinkling of wet snow on Friday evening before the Owl Evening, the Forest of Dean always gets it much worse than we do, Angela had to stay the night as one of the hills in the Forest had a jackknifed lorry blocking it. However we were lucky and the weather held for the evening. We had a warm night on Friday, and having had rain the ponds are now full to over flowing, which is good to see, they have been very low for months and months. The Owl evening last night was wonderful, not a full moon, but properly winter cold, a clear sky, the birds flew very well and we had a lovely audience who were responsive and enthusiastic, which always make it more fun for us.

The tractor, dumper and digger and in their shed as is Richards hedge ladder. My horse trailer is being smartened up and I am going to go and do more to it in a minute, it is going to look very different from the awful paint job it came with, and very smart. However Mollie has gone on loan with a view to buy. She had come on a treat and was going really well, but because I don’t have time to ride a horse daily, she got a bit sharp for me to be relaxed and enjoy. Her potential new home is an eventing one and her rider is a young lad who rode her very well when he tried her last weekend and like all the young he had no fear!! Where I am thinking – what happens if I fall off, I am too old to bounce well! Part of me hopes that she will come back, but it is a much better place for her and I am on the hunt for the perfect horse for me – again!

The new King Vulture is here and in with Pelfour, and they are getting on fine, it is good to see both the Turkey Vulture with a mate and now the King Vultures as a pair again. We also collected two young White-tailed Sea-eagles, they are settling slowly and we will start to train them in January.

As the weather has finally got cold we grounded the merlins, and some of the Lanners, so we are down to less birds for the rest of December which is what we usually do, and by Christmas after the last Owl Evening next Friday, all will be grounded until after the New Year. The heaters in the Hawk Walk are all in and working, its lovely not to have to worry about the tethered birds, and we have the materials coming to cover the fronts of the aviaries if the weather turns. 

OK, time to go and paint the trailer, just in case I need it soon!




Sunday, 11 December 2011

Well, the freezer is IN! The freezer shed, although shed is not a smart enough name for it now (!) is almost finished, the outside has been re-clad in feather edge, it does need a paint, but that will have to wait until the weather eases a bit. The inside is insulated and clad and painted, the thawing room is up and will be painted by the end of the weekend I hope, two of the chest freezers are in there and a very smart walk in deep freeze. The only thing to do now is fill it with raptor food and we are set, and I don’t have to worry any more about the weather causing delivery failure of food.


Alth
ough having said that, here we are getting all prepared for another very cold winter, and so far it has been incredibly mild, not that I mind as it is easier for working outside and better for the birds. However thinking back to this time last year we had had five days of the most amazing hoar frost, with the trees white and the spikes of frost getting longer by the day and the temperature never getting above freezing. All very pretty and wintry and Christmassy, but hard on the birds, the staff and the pocket. Getting heating oil last year was a nightmare.

It was hellish windy on Thursday, although nowhere near as bad as they got in Scotland. We had an Owl Evening for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and amazingly we got away with it on the Thursday, it went well. However the Friday and Saturday ones were most magical evenings, Friday was very cold but a clear clear sky, so you could see the owls without the lights, it was amazing and very special. Last night it was also bright but not as clear and crisp, but still lovely, I think the full moon nights can be the most exciting.

The tractor shed is nearly finished as well, another day or so and we will be able to get the machinery in there, it will be the oldest dumper in the world under cover!! But I will be pleased to see it and its much nicer to start work on it by sitting on a dry seat than a soggy one! We managed to get a leak in one of the central heating pipes through the kitchen ceiling on friday, but between them Mike and Richard got it fixed and the heating working again, getting the heating working was the nightmare part!

The birds are generally well and flying very well, we are still flying the three Merlins as it has not got cold enough to worry about them yet. I guess we will ground them at Christmas and then get them going again in March. We need extra special teams of birds next year as it will be our 45th anniversary!

Follow this link below to see what a WONDERFUL WORLD we have and should desperately cherish far more than we are right now, I only wish the message at the end had been better thought out, I could have done better!http://t.co/LPIQAmIx

And I loved this one!

Every Town in England needs a Council Chief like this.

A maverick mayor elected after promising to slash council spending, clear the streets of yobs and ditch politically correct services is the torch-bearer for how towns should be run.

On his first morning as Mayor of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Peter Davies cut his salary from £73,000 to £30,000 then closed the council’s newspaper for "peddling politics on the rates".
Three weeks into his job, Mr Davies was pressing ahead with plans he hopes will see the number of town councillors cut from 63 to just 21, saving taxpayers £800,000.

Mr Davies said: "If 100 senators can run the United States of America, I can’t see how 63 councillors are needed to run Doncaster".

He has withdrawn Doncaster from the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit, saving another £200,000. Mr Davies said, "They are just talking shops".

"Doncaster is in for some serious un-twinning. We are twinned with probably nine other cities around the world and they are just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense".

The mayor’s chauffeur-driven car has also been axed by Mr Davies and the driver given another job. Mr Davies, born and bred in Doncaster, swept to power in the May election with 24,244 votes as a candidate for the English Democrats, a party that wants tight immigration curbs, an English Parliament and a law forcing every public building to fly the flag of St. George.

He has promised to end council funding for Doncaster ’s International Women’s Day, Black History Month and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
He said, "Politicians have got completely out of touch with what people want".

"We need to cut costs. I want to pass on some savings I make in reduced taxes and use the rest for things we really need, like improved children’s services".

Mr Davies has received messages from well-wishers across the country and abroad as news of his no-nonsense approach spreads.

Now it’s your chance to spread this most sensible way to run a town council.


Friday, 2 December 2011
Today I and two good friends of mine lost a dog, it was Aster. I said three of us because I bred Aster and had him until he was about eight years old, and then he left me for his own sake. Many of you will not remember him, he was a beautiful lanky Labrador, brother of Arabis and Lily. We always said he must have got extra length to his legs from Lily who is very short. To see Aster run was a wonderful sight, he always epitomised joy to me when I watched him play with the others.

He was a nervous dog and at some point when he was about four years old something happened, I don't know what, but he decided he was scared of the birds, which was not fun when you are upwards of 250 of them. He would always be around but hated the Hawk Walk where the tethered birds live and always either ran through it, or avoided it.

He came with me to the US, he was terribly upset by the air flight, but recovered, although he was never as settled or happy in South Carolina, but much loved by most of the people there, he did scare us a couple of times when he disappeared, and he was not great with other dogs over there. He loved swimming in the lakes which was about the only place I could walk the dogs over there, although that in itself was scary and they were full of bloody alligators.

He came back with the tribe when my ill fated sojourn there ended, and he was reasonably settled in Eardisland until I started to bring the birds back and fly some of them, because they were brought into the barn that we all lived in, and were sitting outside close to the trailer that we eventually moved into, he hated it, and started to run away. The road outside was very busy and I was extremely worried that he would get run over, so I took the difficult choice to ask some friends if they would take him. I had sort of planned to make it a short term move, but as it turned out it would have been wrong to take him away again, it was best for him to stay there with them.

Maggie and Jinny took to him like an old friend. We met in the Cotswolds at a very nice hotel so they could be introduced, and after an hour or so, Aster happily jumped into their car and off he went. He settled well and they would take him up to Winterton in Norfolk, and he would run on the beach with their other dogs, it was perfect for him, no birds, nothing to upset him and he was a happy happy dog.

Another Labrador arrived as a puppy to remind him of his family and he and Lucas got on well. I saw him once when I was invited to fly at the Norfolk show, it was lovely to see him but stressful for both of us and I think it would have been confusing for him to see me too much, so I did not see him again, although he was always in my thoughts, and there were things here I know he would have loved, I think he would have played with Sedge with pleasure.

But like all dogs, who never live long enough for their owners, he started to go downhill, and Jinny is like me, you do not leave a dog too long before taking that hard decision to put it down. A dignified and honourable death is the order of the day, and also like me she is a strong believer in the deed being done at home where the dog is happy and secure.

As I have said before it completely staggers me that people can take their dog to the vets and just leave it to be put down, that is an abdication of responsibility in my book and just not acceptable, because at that point it is not your feelings that are important, it is the dogs.

Aster died this morning at his home, it was peaceful and honourable and just right, if these things ever can be. He leaves a huge hole both with me and with Jinny and Maggie, to whom I am eternally grateful to for giving him a great life and a good ending. He will eventually come back to the field and wood, and join his family when the time is right.
Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Last day open, from December 1st we close to the public until February 1st, although we run the Owl Evenings and a five day course, plus a number of experience days up to December 23rd. We have a ton of things that I would like to get finished before Christmas. The food drawers should go in next Monday and Tuesday, the freezer shed should be finished and ready for the new freezer by the end of tomorrow. The electrics in the Hawk Walk will hopefully be done soon and the electrics for the freezer have to be done by the end of Monday! The tractor shed should be done and the tractor, dumper, digger and trailer in and secure by the end of next week. It will be good to know they are undercover if the weather does turn, makes for a dried seat to sit on too!

We are going to be busy, and we will have a fair number of birds still going. I had planned on grounding some when the weather changed and got cold, but it hasn’t yet. Amazing to think that this time last year it was freezing cold and we had the first snow, this year it is still mild, and I have only had the heating on in the house a few times. The leaves have mostly gone in the strong winds, although there is one Oak tree where they have barely turned from green!

The three merlin's are going really well, I am delighted by the way they are flying, and all the young falcons are coming on. Pioneer (Steller’s Sea Eagle) is in with her two brothers and doing well. Cremorne is out and will start work again in January, I hope she does not do the same as last year and bugger off for a week! We are also getting two White-tailed Sea-eagles which are going to be flown next year and for a while until they are old enough to breed, which is exciting. It will be good to compare a Bald Eagle and White-tailed Sea-eagle as they are so closely related.

The Owl Evenings have been going well, we have eight left to do and they are booking up nicely, Jan wants to have carols at the last one, but as she isn’t even going to be here………. We shall have to see!

Adam came over and fixed computer problems, I don’t know what we would do without him, he is a wizard at getting them to do what he wants, and he happily teaches all of us as well. Linda has been very busy with photographing the countryside for the Wye Valley, she has some stunning photos and finally someone is paying her closer to a decent amount for all the work she does. We have some also stunning photos for this year’s photo competition, last years were good, this year they are better, which is great, I hope you have bought the calendar of the last years photos it’s a good Christmas present, and nice to see staff, birds and dogs on your wall for a year!

Linda just sent me this - its great fun!

http://www.drawastickman.com/

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Back from India safe and sound, it is good to go, and even better to come home again.

The trip was good, it was an early start on the Saturday that I left, I caught the 5.44am train. As I rode the train to London, I looked up and the sky was a glorious colour, oranges, greys, light blue and creams, the trees were not quite the deep black of a nighttime silhouette, but instead a dark indeterminate grey and the mist hung just below them in the fields, I wished I was not going, and my feet were cold because I was wearing sandals – ah well, the joys of travelling. It did not last long, the sunrise was done, the mist rose and grey predominated the view, hedges and trees loomed out briefly, and the mist made it hard to focus on anything as we sped past. I got to the airport via Paddington and then the shuttle to terminal, I then went to ask where I should go for passport checking and realised that I think I left my printed out boarding pass on my printer at home, but the lady I asked was very nice and instead of sending me to a queue, just booked me and handed my boarding pass to me, it could not have been easier. I met up with Thalita who is the Brazilian Vet going out to India and Nepal for six months to help with training and off we went.

We arrived in India at 1.30am, and then after a short night of two hours in a hotel, we met up with Chris, Janki and Vibhu and we all trained it to Pinjore. We went out to the Centre, the vultures are just starting to breed, so we did not look too closely at the colony aviaries but did see the new breeding aviaries, which are now filled with birds. We spent the next couple of days discussing the progress, planning for the coming breeding season, having a look at incubators and probably getting in the way of the staff who were getting ready for an influx of people from all over the world at the SAVE meeting. The meetings went well, three days of them! I was definitely meetinged out by the end of it. Ian Newton and I travelled back together and it went well, although catching a plane at 3.30am is not fun really, however it did mean that Adam Bloch who met me at Heathrow and drove me home, (thanks Adam) got me home in time for coffee – and a heavenly shower – and a bacon sandwich!

Although if I have a complaint it would be to the designers of Terminal Five – the shuttle train to get you from the plane to arrivals is very poor, we had to wait until the third train before we could get on and there was no option to walk, which I like to do after a long flight – very badly done I thought, particularly for a new terminal.

It is lovely to be home, it has been a little grey and overcast, but its still good to be back. Adam is in Guatemala doing his cycling bit and we are all hoping that he is having a good time. The wedding with Katana went Very Well, Holly and Sally went to do it and came back very happy that it had all gone according to plan (so was I, I have to say!).

Linda and Mark did a photographic job while I was away, that worked and the client got some stunning photos. Robin and Michele have just done SIX lectures to a school in Tewksbury in one day!! They came back pleased, relieved and tired. Anabelle has gone off home to Mauritius and will be back before Christmas. Simon is still delighted with his motorbike, but it is no longer here! Because we are redoing the freezer shed, prior to the new walk in Freezer arriving, he was worried about it, so it lives in a smart garage off site all by its little self! Although he and Adam blew it on their sojourns away. Simon left a lure in the rucksack that we use looking for lost birds, that took us several days to find the smell after he had gone to India and I found a lure and three pickup pieces in Adam’s bag yesterday!!! I on the other hand cleaned out my bag before I left!

The electrics in the Hawk Walk is coming on, I think it is just a question of joining up all the various bits of cable now. The heaters are in, the switches are in, the line has been tested, the steel armoured cable is in, just boxes and then the big switch on (and pray! Opps, sorry Richard!) and the birds will be snug and warm.

Friday, 11 November 2011

I am off to India at 5.00am tomorrow morning, car, train, shuttle and plane, arriving in Delhi at 1.25am on Sunday morning, three hours in a hotel if we are lucky and then a four to five hour train trip to Kalka. I hope, as usual, to survive the trip, Anabelle is staying in the house and caring for dogs, horse and house. Its raining heavily for the first time in a while. My staff will be as good as ever - I know. Mike and Richard will move things forward on the heating for the birds and I long for the 20th when I am home again. DON'T send me any emails until I am back - please!!
Thursday, 10 November 2011

Furiously getting ready to go to India, I am not a great traveller, I love my home too much, particularly as I got so very close to losing it, that makes you appreciate home far more. The washing is done, my office is more or less clear, my wonderful staff are more than capable of coping and hopefully I will survive yet another series of plane flights, which I do not enjoy.

Anabelle and Michele came out to do Mollie this evening so they know what to do, she did not know what hit her, three people grooming tidying and feeding her, As we walked out to the stables, the sky was a little cloudy, but the moon was out, it gave good light but sort of out of focus, it was easy to see without a torch, but still amazingly warm. Mollie still has not had her new winter rug on yet, although I am not unhappy about that as we don’t have the heating in yet, so the longer the forecast hard winter takes to come, the better as far as I am concerned.I think she liked it!She whinnied loudly as we got there, probably because we were late because everyone stayed a little late this evening to help with the electrics. Richard taught us how to put together various bits for the heating in the Hawk Walk, including leaving his tools which was wonderful. Had I not got the wrong number of tiny bolts we would have finished, as it was by 7.30pm we got an awful lot done, Adam is the best at it, with Anabelle a close second. Mark and Anabelle were going through the Lantra award at the same time, electrics is more fun with a lot of people and a glass of wine.

Mark and Michele took a number of birds to Neil Forbes today, a vet run we label it, we took an elderly Barn Owl who is not well, but the prognosis is OK, I am glad we took her. Delectable to have her feet checked as we were worried, but with changed perching and some permanent monitoring and ointment, she should be fine, with her abnormal leg she will be a long term bird to watch. She was NOT impressed by her new perch. She came out of the box and went straight to it, and then looked properly at it, and you could see that she said – what the hell is that – aaagggghhhhhh and refused to go near it, vultures are so suspicious!! Mozart had a good check up and is not bad for his age (the same could probably be said for me!) Lady Isabel has a tummy infection, which is good to know, and fixable and explains why she has not been getting properly fit, and Alexandria probably has the Peregrine virus, so we have treatment for her. An expensive but important visit to Vet’s Now, and if you can’t afford to go to a good vet, you should not have the animal in the first place.

Most of the leaves are going now, we have had several dull days, but this is still the best place in the world!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Is anyone out there having problems with PayPal, I am not getting confirmation emails and it is very concerning and they are being about as helpful as an extremely dead donkey. I may have to remove the option of using them soon. And what is even more annoying is that they are not admitting the fault is theirs, which it most definitely is. They are going to be in big trouble if they don’t fix it before December that is for sure.


The British Airways advert that is showing at the moment takes me back to the day I flew back to the UK with the birds, June 13th 200. The shots of the huge
jumbo jet makes me remember sitting in the cockpit of the enormous plane with the tiny window at the front, smoothly racing down the runway at Atlanta airport and taking off into the rising sun with all my birds, my dogs and my life, flying back to something that I had no idea if I could deal with, and no home to go to. It was a memorable and unforgettable moment.


I see that that idiot Robin Page is at it again, - Time to prey on predators – in his country column in the Telegraph, if I were a farmer I would be ashamed of him, although I am not convinced he actually is one. Interesting that they show a drawing of a Sparrow-hawk rather than a photo and then a
photo of a non-indigenous species of animal that is frequently hunted and shot because of the damage it does. I wish he would learn a little about wildlife because he sure as hell does not know what he is talking about, but then he is very short, perhaps that explains it! I wonder if he gets paid for that rubbish.

I just filled in a form called the million women study, I am really bad at forms because the boxes never give the option that I want to give, so I either leave it blank or put in my own! Not quite sure about the question of how many bowel movements I have a week, that depends entirely on if I have been to India or not and the answers would be extremely variable. Loved the one about how many units of alcohol I drank in my 20’s 40’s and 60’s, I put ‘are you serious – who the hell knows’! And I suspect they are going to be somewhat interested in my diet – breakfast cereal – NO!

However I am feeling very virtuous because I have gone through my various in trays and cleared as much as I can before going to India (and increased bowel movements!) It is looking much healthier now, with only the usual things that I want to get done, but never manage, they get to be old friends in the end.

It was a glorious day on Sunday, Simon is back, and Holly and things are getting back to normal, we had lovely visitors, many of them now good friends and the birds flew brilliantly. On the Saturday evening wee went to a fireworks display that Laurence, a friend of Richards did, Richard was the vital assistant, it was very very impressive, I have never been to one other than the ones we do here, the only thing was I forgot to take my camera which is now annoying me!

I have got to the point where I think that R and D (research and development) departments should not be allowed. Last year we put in a water heater in the weighing room, it is small and it has a tap that apparently is the relief valve as well. Remembering that hot water expands and so it needs somewhere to expand, well the idiot that designed this system thought it would be a good idea to have the water expand through the tap. So we were told not to turn the tap off fully, so that the water could dribble out and dribble it did, almost permanently. Well that might be fine in a household with one person, but it sure as hell does not work where up to twenty different people may use the tap. To start with you have no idea where to stop in turning off the tap, where is too far???? Its like giving directions to get somewhere and stating that if you get to the roundabout you have gone too far, by which time it is too late! I think it is a clever ploy because the flaming tap is £150, and we would need one about every nine months. However we are changing the system to get rid of the bloody tap, although it is turning out to be immensely more complicated than I would like.

We got a lot done today, although I found it a frustrating one, and still have not ridden Mollie, we cleaned and re-perched and painted all the owl enclosures in the small falcon block, made room for a pair of Mottled Owls that are coming, and moved the kestrels around so we could put the two new pairs of Lesser Kestrels in there. They are not in the best of condition feather wise and so need to be in a nice safe, secure, dry and warm aviary, which they now are. Had another injured wild buzzard in yesterday as well, they are nearly always males, I wish I knew why.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Good God, what the hell happened to the rest of October, I can’t believe it is November already. Charlie came down and totally rebuilt my bathroom, I have a new shower, which I can’t use for another day, a new bath because the old one was not well, a new basin because the old one was broken, a new and safe set of stairs down into the bathroom as the old ones were going to kill me at some point, and the same loo, but in a different place, oh and a new floor of beautiful stone tiles, it looks amazing and is nearly finished. We then, that would be Michele and I – and yes she is out of hospital and no we have no idea what was actually wrong – had a cleaning session. I have this habit of having a major clear out on occasion, and this seemed like the ideal chance, so all the drawers in the various bits of furniture had a clear out – I found my wedding cards, so they all went in the bin as did a fair number of very old drugs (legal I hasten to add) that were somewhat out of date to say the very least.

I have done all the clothing drawers a couple of weeks ago, now all I have to do is find the time to get a couple of pieces of wood, fill various holes in the wall, clean and stain the new stairs and paint the room, oh and when I can afford it new curtains as the ones in there are awful!

The leaves on many of the trees are going fast now, with only the oaks still green, they are always the last to go. It is still amazingly mild for the time of year which is good for us and the birds, we are finally getting some rain, but not a lot, however the pond is looking fractionally better. We have only one more compartment left to do in the insulation of the Hawk Walk we are saving it for Simon when he comes back from India on Sunday!! Richard gave me a lesson in electrics last night, so we are wiring up the tubular heaters that are going to go under the perches, should get it done and dusted by the end of the month I hope.

Tom is making the last of the food drawers so when I feed round at Christmas it will all be done and clean and tidy!! And we have ordered the walk in deep freeze, I found a good company that are doing one at a reasonable price and we have help with the cost, we only need to completely re do the freezer shed and it can go in. It will be lovely to have a clean fresh freezer and a clean and fresh and insulated room for it. We are moving ever forwards!

The birds are well and most are flying to a good standard, the three new kites are all catching properly now, we ground Pioneer on Monday, Mark wants her to have a rest and I want her to have some time with her siblings which will be good for her, then Cremorne will come out in January and hopefully we will not chase her round the country again! Rinkhals did a rehearsal for an Owl Evening and was stunningly good, all the other owls are working well and Holly and I rehearsed two of them for our first wedding soon and that went fine too. The only problem I have is with the various staff being off I have had little or no time for anything including riding Mollie, I hope that will change.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Well the ironing board is still in the van as the rest of the day did not really go as planned. I did manage to get out for a ride, although I suspect today I will not succeed. I took Mollie onto May Hill and I have to say she was very good, almost too good, I was pushed to get a canter, but at least no explosions which is great, she was a little more excited on the way down, silly horse, but all in all perhaps the change of food and help from Sally and friends (thanks all) over the last couple of weeks is making a difference.



By 5.30 on Saturday afternoon we had all decided that Michele who is our American Student who has been here since mid-September had been sick for long enough, she has had three bouts of vomiting and this last one was not stopping, so I phoned Gloucester Hospital A and E to see if they would see her. They asked me to phone the duty GP at a different department, so I did and they said one would phone me back, which he did. We managed to get Michele down to the phone and she told him the gory details, and he then was passed back to me, he said that she should be taken to the Dilke which is a small hospital in the Forest outside Cinderford. So off we went, bowl in hand. We found the right place (eventually) and the doctor examined her, and decided that she needed IV fluids, which we both concurred with, however they could not take her at the Dilke so I needed to take her to – guess where – Gloucester Hospital A and E! So off we went again, bowl handy. We got there and I grabbed a wheelchair – whatever complete moronic idiot designed the wheelchairs they have in there should be shot, it is impossible to push them forwards in any decided direction, the only way they work is backwards. Why on earth don’t designers actually try out their work before they are allowed to make a final product, it never fails to amaze me how many things that have supposedly been designed by some brilliant designer are utter crap. I could mention many objects, many wheelbarrows being up there, however actually a good wheelbarrow would probably have been better than this bloody wheelchair!

Anyway, I took Michele into the waiting room – the counter there is unpleasantly high, difficult to see and for older people almost impossible to hear the people on the other side. I suppose it is that high for security, what a great shame the human race can be so completely vile at times, to make hospitals have to be careful of their staff who are there to help the sick and injured is a sad reflection.


After answering all the same questions I had done twice before because apparently the computer had not sent through the records (we know what I feel about software!!!), I left Michele in the wheelchair and rushed out to put the car somewhere that it would not be clamped. I have to say I find it iniquitous, as do many other people, that visitors have to pay to come and see people who are ill in hospital, its again a shameful thing, there is a 15 minute car park for people who have brought in emergency patients, obviously another idiot thought that the patient would be seen and dealt with in 15 minutes!!!! Dream on! When I got back, she had gone, wheeled (probably with difficulty) into a room which I then had to find, but only after a doctor one presumes, told me that if I looked in cubicles I might see something that upset me – I guess he did not know what I do for a living! After more questions and another bloody pressure check we were taken to another room, where eventually I went out to see if anyone was actually going to come and see her and give her fluids, a nurse arrived as I went out she was very nice, found her a trolley so Michele could lie down, took blood pressure (third time!) and bloods and put her on a drip. By nearly 9.30pm we saw a doctor, who decided that she should be admitted, bear in mind that decision had already been taken at the Dilke over two hours previously but had to be taken again according to some new rules, (which incidentally the doctors and nurses think is pretty stupid as well) one wonders if the same idiot who invented that particular wheelchair was the person making up the ‘rules’ because they are as ridiculous and time wasting and inefficient as the wheelchair.

Michele was looking better by now, half the bag of fluids was now inside her and her colour was better and she was talking again! So I left her and drove back home to the dogs and Anabelle who had been looking after them and the Woodburning stove and Mollie in the interim period.

Michele is still in the hospital, I have managed to speak to her this morning, she may be in for a while, they are assessing her and Anabelle has gone in with computer, pyjamas’s toothbrush etc., and some of us will go in and see her this evening – opppppppsssss there goes the ironing again! Well break my heart!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

It’s amazing how things always come at once. I spent days working on finding the best new walk in deep freeze, Although if the winter is going to be as hard as they are predicting I could probably do without one anyway!! Just leave the food out and it will stay frozen! However that is not really what we need to do. So to get a new walk in freezer, we need to revamp the freezer shed, which means new cladding on the outside, as the old stuff really is past its sell by date and will probably fall off soon anyway, and then insulation, oh and moving the water softener. Well the softener is about 25 years old or more, probably more I suspect. So it is very worn, hideously ugly and a nightmare to move, consequently that means a new one, and I might tell you not many people can give you advice on water softeners, but I now know far more about them than I did before and really wanted to know anyway. However a new one will hopefully be on its way soon and is much smaller, much neater and hopefully easy to put in as I can’t afford to pay someone to do it! It is interesting though, we de-commissioned the old softener and I can see a difference in the water quality in a couple of days and not a good difference, so we really do need a new one.


Stupidly at the same time I wanted a shower in my bathroom, because on a bad day, having two baths in one day, which could happen, is wasteful of water and heating oil, and time consuming as well. So what did that lead to – the electrics need to sorted out!! Oh and the plumbing. I now know why the water in my bathroom tasted so utterly disgusting, but having now got rid of the now defunct header tanks in my loft, the water pressure is higher so all the loos leak, and the dogs water drinker, and the washing machine in stock room, and so on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I guess we will sort it all out but boy it’s all a great deal harder and more expensive that I needed at this time of the year.

It’s a glorious day, the autumn colours are amazing and we have some of our regular photographers coming, so I guess it is a good photo day as well. Simon is off to India next week, he is going to be helping them get ready for the coming breeding season and looking at helping one of the other centres get ready for artificial incubation and rearing. The new doors on the Hawk Walk are making a huge difference to the warmth for the birds, the handles are on, they are closing more easily although some need to be adjusted, and we don’t have to worry about the birds. I am now looking into the tubular heaters and we will be set for the winter for the trained birds. Just need to win the lottery fairly soon!

All the birds are going well and improving and Simon’s merlin should be loose before he goes away! Finally Alexandria is getting fitter as is Lady Isabel, and I am pleased about that in fact today Alexandria flew brilliantly as did Banded Krait my merlin.

We will put the next chapter of the Mozart book on the website on opppppppppphs wrong, it is November 1st, I hope people are liking it, bear with it, I think you will enjoy it. And ...............I have bought an iron and the ugliest iron board in the whole world, so I can start to look less untidy, of course it would be better if I actually got the ironing board out of the van where it has been sitting for four days!!! It will happen though.

Sunday, 16 October 2011
Well, I had a day off today, Sally took me to a Three Day Event, well maybe it was a one day Event, but whatever it was great fun and afterwards I bought some new jodhpurs as mine are falling to bits. So I flew no birds and did little at home, it was very good for me. I did take Mollie out when we got back and she was somewhat hairy to ride I have to say, never mind, I stayed on and my new jods were great. Oh and on looking at my photos of people jumping, I don't think the pro's have anything to worry about!


If you look to the side there is a new newsletter on the website, I have also done a slideshow which is on YouTube, with a link on the side and finally I have decided to publish a book on-line, see the link and click on it if you are interested.

So we start with the Mozart book, which I will, or to be more accurate Linda will put on the website a Chapter at a time, she has done a great job with the page, I hope you like the book, please tell others if you do.

Friday, 14 October 2011

I have to admit to having a fairly unproductive day, the internet is supposed to save you time, and it does but you have to know the right terms to find what you need. I spent much of the morning trying to find out about walk in deep freezes as we desperately need to get back to having one. Our old one died finally after about 26 years – which I guess is pretty acceptable, however having tried very good commercial chest freezers they just don’t work for us, they take up a ton of space and don’t give us enough room to have back up food. With a potentially hard winter coming we are very uncomfortable not having at least two months’ supply in hand. So hence the checking prices online. In the end because I was not sure what size we need, we resorted to drawing out the internal measurements in chalk on the concrete outside the shop – I am a fairly literal person after all – and then drawing in the size of pallets to see what we could get it – it worked OK ish, so now I just need to find the best price for what we need and what I can afford.

It is significantly colder this evening, I had to fly one of the falcons late in the day, because I had had that unproductive day etc., and noticed that I was not exactly warm and the sky was very very clear, which to me means cold. So I mentioned it in passing and the general thought was that it was not going to be that cold this evening. However about twenty minutes later Simon came back and said OK it’s going to down 6 degrees, so we put all the metal grills back up and closed the doors for the first time!! And then I realised that I have to get good door handles to pull to close them properly – back to the internet and find out the right name for the bloody things, they are incidentally called Pull Door handles and they cost anything from £1.98 to over £100 each!! I suspect I will be going for the former as I need 29 of them!

The birds flew well today mostly, Adam’s Steppe Eagle is really coming on, the Steller’s is also starting to circle which is wonderful. D’Arcy Spice is back on line, Sidewinder is coming back into work – a bit manic, but doing well. And Rinkhals is being persuaded that trees really are a good idea and would she please go into one. Unlike my merlin whom I would be delighted if I could persuade him Not to go into one!

The light has been beautiful in the last few days, I love the low autumn light when the sun is out. Although yesterday it was damp and misty and that was just as nice. Oh and look what Simon has just got - a Harley Davison Motor Bike, its pretty smart and if he could get it up the stairs to his flat it would be in the bedroom with him!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Winter Flying Times were instigated today, which should mean we have a little more time at the end of the day until the light goes. We managed to get most of the birds done although the wind was very blustery and fierce at times, my Merlin was amazing!!

Mollie was somewhat like an unexploded bomb in the wind, which made for an interesting ride this afternoon. And she can buck when she wants, to!!

We continue on with the insulation of the outdoor Hawk Walk, I was very pleased we are doing it when someone said that it stated in the newspaper that we were going to get temperatures of -20C this winter. So we definitely need to get done in time for those! At least we know what we are doing this year and can make the trained birds much more comfortable.

Nathan and his Dad looked at the bottom hedge that I want to lay, but most of the trees in it are too big, so I am looking for someone to cut it down – for the wood, there is a great deal of valuable fire wood in there.Then once that is done and the spring comes it will shoot from the base and we can get it looking nice and lower, so we get a better view of the birds flying.

Rush is pretty much back his normal self, much happier now the stitches are out and no longer trying to scratch it thank goodness.

He did not like his T shirt though, which I thought was ungrateful as Sally gave it to him and Holly collected it specially!

!


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cooler weather now, I even lit the wood burner yesterday, although it is warmer this evening. Rush is much better I ended up taking out his stitches late last night and he has been much more comfortable. Sorrel is a little lame which worries me and so is Indigo, they all need to lose weight, as indeed do I! That should help all of us.

We are still working on the insulation of the floors of the outdoor Hawk Walk, it is taking more time than I had hoped it would so if anyone out there is keen to do some digging in the next couple of weeks, just let me know, this is the perfect place for it!!

I redid all the letters and leaflets for all the courses and experience days in the last couple of days, there were 18 of them and it took a while I have to say, but needed doing urgently. Adam Bloch and Holly did the wedding photos on Thursday, they looked great and the car was wonderful, I could definitely have given it a good home, well OK perhaps not a great home, but a very appreciative one!

I have not had time to ride Mollie, which is annoying particularly as the days are getting shorter very quickly now, however on Monday we ground Fortina, Karis, Hare and Deception, so that means that I have less birds to fly and hopefully will have a little more free time.

Holly’s Barbary is going really well, as are the two merlins, Simon’s is still not loose, it is going to be the longest merlin training in the world! Azor is coming on and the Steller’s Pioneer was very spectacular today! Casper is back working, he is such a beautiful falcon, and he is coming on nicely.

We start the Owl evenings any minute now, I hope you have all booked in as they are going to be good this year, not that they are not always good I hasten to add. Other than that, I am going to have a new bathroom I really want a shower in there and my bath has pretty much rusted through, so there is a new bath sitting upside-down in my bedroom waiting for the rest to get here and get done.

Also in my bedroom are about a million tiny flies, who moved in about a week ago, Sue and I have been hoovering up the damn things but they appear to be endless, at least they don’t bite like the ones in South Carolina, which is something.

Sally sent me this link below, as some of you may know I love only classical music and this is very moving, what a great idea and how very appreciated, humans can be amazing, its just such a shame it only happens rarely! Please click on it and watch with your sound up, its wonderful.

http://www.classicalarchives.com/feature/dont_miss_this.html

Hello

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.

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHZGQ8i8AwI

HC

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