Thursday, 31 March 2011

Its eight o clock in the evening and still there is daylight, I love this time of the year, suddenly the winter is gone, leaves are arriving by the ton (no doubt I will curse them when we have to pick them all up in the autumn). Trees have a tinge of green all over them which is sometimes indiscernible, but there nevertheless there if you just glance.

The weather forecast has as usual been wrong, but unfortunately it does affect our visitor numbers so it has been quiet, but still we move on. The Maze is coming on very slowly, there is a lot of soil to move! But we have places to put it. I seeded the area of the field where the pond soil had been put to dry out, it was interesting to do in the wind! It was very windy today, a gusty wind that is difficult for the birds, the two that dealt with it best were the two peregrines, both of which flew superbly. Karis would have loved it too, but he is only just out and not ready to go yet. However Ruby is and we took her down to the flying field to see what she thought of the new mounds – not a lot!! But she worked and it was a joy to have her back with us on the flying team. Hemp has laid her first egg!! Clever girl!

Sadly the Steller’s appear to have decided that their two eggs were enough to sit on and so somewhere along the line they destroyed our Verreaux’s Eagle egg, which is very disappointing. I am going to end up with a flock of damn Steller’s!! We grounded Cremorne (Bald Eagle), someone sent a photo of her and I realised that she is looked very frayed at the edges and so needs a break to moult and that will give us time to work on the young Steller’s. and Hard Tackle is out!! I hope he manages well this year, I am working on it being a long hot summer, and he will love that.

Dante has gone on loan, so I am down to one horse – Henry, which is fine, although the little devil broke into the food store today, heaven knows what he ate, but he gets no supper that is for sure! Otherwise we look forward to the Easter holidays and lots of lovely visitors – I hope!
Tuesday, 29 March 2011

It was a glorious week last week, just wonderful weather, the best that England can supply and nowhere else can do it. The sun has been out, a slight frost in the morning, soon going and then a heavy dew, the wild daffodils are looking superb, the tree are just starting to come into leaf, or some of them and the Highways department closed our road!! Oh well you can’t have everything I suppose!!!! Then came the weekend grey and cold and then on Monday warm and sunny, sometimes I wonder if someone is having a joke about weekends!

We had a group of photographers in on Sat, they were a really nice bunch and took some great photos. Mike has been here and we have cleared all the dried soil from the ponds that was spread out at the bottom of the flying field, it was in piles all over the bottom horse field waiting to be rotavated into the awful soil that is there. That should make a big difference, however looked like we have a severe outbreak of enormous moles!! It has now been Scuffled!! Bet you don’t know what that is!! Well it’s between a rotavtor and a plough, so now you know. He has also tidied up the top field, and moved the tree trunk with Adam’s help to the wood for the plan Adam has in there (wait and see) and today we are moving the mound that only the dogs use to play on, and putting the soil in holes around the place. He fixed the leak in the pond and made a mess above the top pond!! But is could not be helped.

We also moved the mound that was to the left of the flying ground, and that has been seeded. Robin has almost finished laying out the Owl Maze, which is going to look amazing needless to say.

Sedge has recovered from his trip abroad – OK Wales! The others were very pleased to see him back as were all the staff, to say he got spoilt yesterday would be an understatement! Dante is going on loan tomorrow, which is good because he will get lots of work and hopefully gain the experience he needs to be a great horse. Then I can concentrate on Henry who is still lame at the moment, damn it.

One very sad occasion today was the death of Treasure, she had been self-mutilating again, and we tried all sorts of things to discourage her. Neil saw her last week and we decided that she might have an internal problem that was causing her to bite at her back, so she went in today and was X-rayed. Her spine was twisted, so Neil did not bring her round. She was 25 years old and the first Secretary Bird to be trained in the world. I will miss her dreadfully. We will bury her in the field.

The two peregrines are flying superbly, just amazing to see, they are both climbing and stooping brilliantly, bodes well for the summer. We have grounded Hemp who is about to lay eggs any minute now and also Cool Ground because he needs a rest. Ruby is going to come back into work and also Karis, Brenin, and a couple of others, so we are moving onto a full team of birds again.
Monday, 28 March 2011
SEDGE IS SAFE!! Apparently (!) he got into the boot of someone's car and they found him when they got back to Cardiff, he was taken to the Cardiff Dogs Home at 2.30am this morning. They phoned and left a message and I got it at 7.30am this morning after a particularly unpleasant and sleepless night!

I can't tell you what a relief it is, although small Sedge has a huge personality and usually I curse him when he does four laps of the sofa's and then screams his little head off as I struggle to get the door open to let them out last thing. However last night I would have be very pleased to see him cornering at high speed on the carpet and skidding out of the door trying to be first, yelling the whole time. The other dogs have missed him as well.

Phew! What a relief, Linda is going to get him now and we are all exhausted!
Sunday, 27 March 2011

Only one thing to tell you SEDGE has been stolen. So any and all help would be gratefully received. He and Sorrel were in the Car park after the last demonstration. One of our members phoned us having got to Newent, which is five minutes away, to tell me that Sedge and Sorrel were in the car park, with a small boy playing with them. Sorrel had walked in a few seconds earlier, so I went out and no Sedge, or car with a small boy (10ish my staff think). We searched high and low, but no sign of Sedge, he is not a wanderer. We looked in all the buildings and anywhere he might have gone, but the problem is that he loves cars, and so he is eminently stealable.

We have put it on Facebook, I am hoping that anyone who took photos today, that might include the crowd will send them to me. We have a description of the boy and his father, if we have a photo I will put it up on Facebook, they were we think from Wales. Please pass this information to everyone. If you know a Postman within about 50 miles from here, give him or her a picture of Sedge, because I am told by a very good website 'doglost' that it is a very good way to get dogs back as they know all the dogs in the area.

I will put photos of him up here, if you double click on them they will come up large and you can print them out. We really want Sedge back. I can't tell you what I think of customers whom we try to give a super day, and then they take my bloody dog.

Keep Looking, Sedge is out there somewhere.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011
I have had a day that has been frustrating to say the least. How many of you have tried to get hold of a firm, knowing that you are going to get an answer phone message with numerous options none of which are going to be the option that you want. You make the phone call, you are greeted by the expected answer phone and options, you struggle through them, cursing and swearing, you are informed by a voice that all the information that you require is on the website (lies!!!!) eventually after pressing several numbers and being given yet more options, you are holding the receiver in front of you screaming ‘all I want to do is speak to a human!!!!!!!!!!!’ Not surprisingly you don’t get any reply to your yell of exasperation , you are told that your conversation may be recorded for training purposes, you shout with glee – 'I hope so and I hope you are recording the fact that I want a human to talk to, not another bloody option'. Finally you get a human, the relief is amazing, you tell them what you need and they immediately put you on hold with awful music, and a voice telling you again about all the information on the website. They come back, you immediately beg them not to put you on hold, and not to hand you on to another machine with options, but to no avail, you are in the wrong department and they will tell you what options to choose. Finally in fury you give up and hang up.

Actually this time I did get through to a human eventually and did I beg – oh yes!!! I got through to another one – two humans in one phone call, a miracle!! I was trying to find out why I had not heard anything about a claim for £460 (a not insubstantial sum I have to say), for 60 keyed alike padlocks that we returned because the key was the same damn key as the ones I had bought about 20 years previously (be warned about that one!). Finally it turned out that not only had the Post Office lost my returned parcel, they had lost my claim form as well!! Classic!

As I was on a roll chasing thing up, I then tried to find out when the next Newent Town Council meeting was because I am fairly to extremely annoyed with them for not including us in the changing of the Brown Tourist Signs, which I bloody paid for – at least my one. Their website is appalling and they need to sort it out. I still have some work to do on the sign problem, but hopefully we will win on that one.

Mike Turner dropped in so I hope we are going to start on getting the two horse fields, They look awful and the job done by the farmer who had all the ménage fencing and stone was a rip off, he did not do as I asked and so I have a bottom field which is subsoil with the topsoil underneath, and it looks like it. However we will get it right and at the same time use up some of the compost and move the mound in the flying field that never gets used other than by Sedge and Sorrel for riotous games.

Holly and I spent yesterday evening doing records, trying to remember what birds came from where and what birds went where, much of which considering all the moves is not surprisingly a nightmare. I will be glad when we have got it all done.

I am really pleased with the new Guided Tour that Linda has put on our website, I have wanted to do it for ages and so I did a PowerPoint of it, and she did all the hard work and got it working. It really does give a flavour of the Centre when you visit.

Henry is slowly getting sounder and Dante is away up the road with three mares and a foal and is very cheerful at the moment, but at least not here playing with Henry and making him even lamer. The Cherry Blossom is out, spring is here!

Saturday, 19 March 2011
I have been remiss in writing, not sure why, fed up with the cold continuing, a lot to do, a lame horse, tired, lots of things happening in the world, could be anything, I will improve!

I forgot to tell you about Pancake Day, I am not sure if it is celebrated around the world in the same way that it is in the UK, we have pancakes, and you have to toss them, flip them in the pan. So we had pancakes at coffee time on Shrove Tuesday. Angela made the batter and we all had to cook our own and toss it. Mark did the most ambitious one, I don’t know how high it went, but there were shrieks of delight and applause, so it did not hit the ground. Mine went OK, but as I believe in the 5 second rule, I would not have minded dropping it. Having said that, you actually have to be a lot quicker than five seconds with my dogs around, it’s more like a mille second rule! Holly brought maple syrup, lemons, bananas, chocolate spread blueberries and heaven knows what else. Adam had almost everything on his!! Good lad, no waste there. It was a good day and great fun, we do well with staff enjoyment here.

Recently I asked a couple of people about a good software programme to do magazines, newsletters and other stuff that I need to work on. Indesign was what I was told to look at – easy to use, much easier than publisher – well what utter crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know where people get off thinking that a programme is easy to use. I think it ought to be made a law that all software programmers have to sit with someone like me when they think they have designed something brilliant and see how far they have to go to make it user friendly. Indesign is not user friendly it is not easy and I am not going to buy it!! In fact I have deleted it!! And it took less time to go than it did to down load a trial!! It’s very frustrating, it’s like the new Office 10 – that is rubbish, it is far harder to use and takes more clicks to get where you want to be, as for windows live mail, give me outlook express any day of the week. I am now waiting for a supposedly good and easier programme to arrive, I really want to master it so I can do good newsletters and such.

I had to go to Yorkshire this week, so I booked a train ticket, got up early, fed the dogs, fed the horses, walked the dogs, drove to Gloucester in the little van and caught the train to Cheltenham where I was supposed to catch another train to York, however there the plan fell apart. The Edinburgh train (the one I was going to take to York) was running 50 minutes late!! That meant that I was going to be late for a meeting, however not much to do, so I waited around, then the announcement came that the train was now 80 minutes late! So I went to see if there was another way to get to York, yes I was told, catch the train to Birmingham and at 9.30 there is another train to York. Well the train to Birmingham was packed, I can never understand why you are most definitely not allowed to over crowd your car, you are not allowed to stand in a plane, so why is it you can stand packed in a train!! Health and safety apparently does not apply here!. We stood all the way to Birmingham and arrived at 9.30am!! Yup, missed the damn train, so the next one was an hour on. I finally got to York at a quarter to one when I should have got there at 11.38! I was not pleased!

It was foggy as hell in Yorkshire and cold, much colder than home, but still beautiful. Charlie picked me up and we went late to our meeting. We then drove back to his house and it was lovely to see Hawk again, the Exmoor pony, his winter coat is very dark and he was beautifully shaggy!

Henry is very lame, he has a badly bruised foot poor lad, and so there is a great deal of rest needed and a lot of work on my field to get it smooth again so he can be a little more comfortable. Mind you the reason it looks like a ploughed field right now is because they career up and down it at a hundred miles an hour and ruin it.

It’s a glorious day today, fantastic sunshine, and the wild daffodils are looking very good this year. Roll on the summer!
Friday, 11 March 2011

Well I went shopping and bought lots of plants with the ‘voucher’ from my staff and then spent two days making a horrible mess of the courtyard, but it looks great now, I can’t wait for the spring and everything to come out.

Henry had his shoe put back on he lost yet another one on my birthday! and I took him out last night, it was our usual eventful ride, but to be fair to him he has not been out for two weeks, roll on the clocks changing so I can go out in the evenings.

The wind has been cold, but the Barbary Falcon loves it and has been flying like a dream whenever it is windy. Hare is back out and flying, although as usual at the beginning of his season he is rather good at tree sitting. We flew Cremorne loose the day before yesterday – first time since her little sojourn around Gloucestershire, she was very good, it was very windy yesterday, so we did not fly her, but hopefully next week she will be back on form. We are slowly adding in birds to the flying teams, it is good to see some of them out again, but sadly we had to come to a decision on Shanny, she did not fly last year and was in with a male, but showed no signs of interest – it could have been the wrong male for her! So we switched her with Topaz and started her flying about ten days, ago, but she did not do well, so we decided that she had earned her retirement. She is being fed up again and will go into an aviary, we will give her a young male for company, and she can do what she likes, she worked hard for us over the years, went to the US and back and has been a star, she can look out on the world now and not have to work for her living.

We have been loaned a hybrid Merlin Peregrine, and he is very smart, if he flies as well as others that we have had he will be great fun and a challenge on the lure swinging front. Karis is still to come out and a few other falcons, the kites will be out once the risk of frost is over, and then the Burrowing Owls, whom it will be lovely to see working again, I hope they like their new tunnel design!!

Our two baby Tawny Eagles are doing well, and the Sakers have laid – hooray!! And I think one of the pairs of Lanners may have as well, so that is wonderful, all we have to hope for now is that they are fertile. And amazingly the other pair of Griffon Vultures have laid, now she has laid before but her male only has one wing, so we did not expect any fertile eggs, well, her egg is fertile!! So the old boy managed somehow, good on him! She is sitting on a dummy wooden egg and hopefully if her egg hatches we will return her baby and they will have a son or daughter to rear. The Steller’s are sitting nicely on their two eggs, we are not double clutching them otherwise we will be up to our eyes in Stellers Sea Eagles!!

Sunday, 6 March 2011
I think the fact that my larder has three and half shelves with vases, and far less with food and bowls for food probably tells me that I love flowers and am not that interested in food or the preparation thereof! It also probably explains why my supper was rather disgusting this evening, nothing left in there worth eating! Its my birthday today and Aster ( well probably his surrogate parents actually) sent me a bunch of flowers and my staff got me a huge bunch which is divided into two so I have more vases out, I would happily fill the house with flowers if I could. They also bought me a voucher for plants, which was very good of them and I am going shopping at the garden centre on Monday! I have lost a lot of plants in my courtyard, plus I was chopping wood the other day and managed to break a pot – no it was not a bad aim, one of the logs flew off at an angle! I had a lovely coffee time too with a Lardie Cake and some fruit pastries done by Angela thanks guys!

My sisters also bought me lovely presents, I am wearing a very pretty necklace from Anna, which matches some earings that she gave me, and Dinah made me the coolest felt model of Rosie, which is delightful, we took photos of her all day!! Those of you who remember Rosie (now living happily in Devon) will recognise her and see how clever Dinah has been. Nick sent me wine so I am set up for the year, and I have gin from Joan and Iloana, and Louise, Paul and Lucy! I now have enough gin for the rest of the year unless I have a gin party – now there is an idea! Oh and I got some pots of Lilies of the Valley too, which I love!

We put a number of eggs under birds a couple of days ago because Simon was worried about them. And so we know the Steller’s has two eggs this year. It’s still very cold which is not fun, but at least it is dry as well. Mark has finished the wall at the end of the café and it looks great and we are moving the pavers in the Hawk Walk to a better position so we can stop walking on the grass as it does not do it any good over the winter.

The Eagle Owl went through his operation well and is eating, but does not like his medicine! However it is going down, and we will have to see at the end of it how his flight comes on. I was thinking of going out for a birthday ride, but we have a half experience day and a half photography day, and its bloody cold, so I will wait until the weather warms up I think!!

We had plenty of visitors today, and some old friends, the sun came out in the afternoon and it felt springlike, we have three ducks on the pond, a white one and two mallards, not sure how long they will stay though!!
Thursday, 3 March 2011
Its flipping cold here at the moment, and very grey, I have to say I am looking forward to seeing the spring, although the wild daffodils in the field are beginning to have flowers, it does not feel very spring like yet. I am slowly recovering from the trip, although still coughing nicely, and I must have been sicker than I thought because I could not face a drink until last night! Not even had a G and T either. The birds are managing, and the two baby Tawny Eagles that we have are doing well as are the Indian Eagle Owls. I need to find a couple of breeding pairs of Indian Eagle Owls for us here as they make great sitters on eggs and lay nice and early. The Eurasian Griffon Vultures who we thought were not going to breed this year are looking more interested now and one pair has an egg, although I suspect it will not be fertile as the male only has one wing. The Stellers are on eggs, but we don’t know how many! And one pair of the Lanners is looking good, we will keep all the babies I think this year as I have an aging collection and that does not just include me!

Mark has sorted out the wall at the end of the café which was starting to look awful because the water from the paths has been hitting it for years. It is going to look much better once he has finished it. And last night I heard the almost forgotten noise of the lawn mower!! Nathan is back and mowing in the pitch dark as usual!

I think I mentioned the Eagle Owl that has been living in a quarry in the Forest of Dean. It had been there for over a year, and started to have a go at some of the workers. So we went over to see if we could catch it. Well catching it proved to be rather more difficult and wasn’t helped by the fact that some of the workers actually didn’t want it caught anyway! However we left a trap there and showed them what to do and Adam went over several times to see if he could get close. But fate in the shape of a complete and very nasty idiot intervened and this charming person shot the owl last Friday. Someone witnessed it and saw the owl fall off the pole and run down the road. We were phoned by this person and also the police and Adam went over and spent three hours, with about 12 other people from the village looking for the bird. They did not find it, although they kept in contact with us and kept looking – so it just goes to show there are more nice people out there than the nasty chap. The night before last someone was driving along that way, spotted the owl and put it in a box and called us, so Adam collected him and we took him to Eden Tanner to be examined. He has a nasty break in his left wing, mid shaft which is going to be operated on today, the pellet is still in there, so we hope to get that out as evidence. He ate well last night – and is looking OK this morning, although obviously a little sorry for himself. Here is hoping that the operation goes well and he recovers well enough to fly again.

Someone sent me this today which was interesting sort of!!
Have a look at these and compare with a gallon of petrol!
Diet Snapple £10.32 per gallon
Lipton Iced Tea £9.52 per gallon
Ocean Spray Juice £10.00 per gallon
Brake Fluid £33.60 per gallon
Vick’s Nyquil £178.13 per gallon
Pepto Bismol £123.20 per gallon
EVIAN WATER £21.19 per gallon (told you not to drink bottled water!!)
Best of all
Printer Ink £5,200 per gallon
Just goes to show that although petrol and even worse diesel prices are a nightmare, water and printer ink is a complete rip off! And here at the end is a picture of some lovely electrics for you Richard!! So no more complaining about mine!!


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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