Monday, 27 June 2011

Good Lord how time flies, it ages since I wrote, it has been hot as hell for the last two days and very muggy. The mower arrived and Nathan seemed to like it although I have seen him on his old little mower for the last two days, so I am not convinced. We

filmed today, live, for Crimewatch Road-show, which was interesting, but exhausting by the end of the day, not that they stayed long after the end of the show, long enough for us all to have breakfast at 10.00am, but then they all left, but they started at! So that meant an early start to get dogs fed and walked, horse checked, the gates open, the cafe open and the coffee on! So I am running out of steam right now I have to say. The filming went superbly well, Adam did a great job with Harley who was the star - you can see it on BBC I player if you are so inclined. Holly's owl Boom-slang (!) opened the show, and both owls and all humans behaved impeccably. My great staff and volunteers were all in early or on time and we did a good job.

I drove to the RSPB HQ on Thursday for a meeting on the vulture programme, it was good to see and talk to everyone again, and we sorted out a few problems, and better still my Range Rover behaved superbly and got me there and back in record time. I took Henry to Leominster sale on friday and brought him home again, the prices were very poor and he was very upset, he has recovered now!

This piece of news is particularly sad, again you have to wonder at the brainless stupidity of those people who refuse to stop using lead as an ammunition for shooting. Again I would point out to those people that no one is asking you to stop shooting things, just to change your ammunition, you would not think this was rocket science, or particularly difficult. The excuses are: it’s too expensive, well it would get cheaper if you all used it and it’s even more expensive for the poor unfortunate birds that die from consuming lead while clearing up after the shooting fraternity. It will damage my gun – get a new one and hang the expensive one up on a wall so you can admire it. It’s not as lethal as lead – get better at shooting or do the R and D that is required! There are answers to all your excuses chaps, and as for the complete moronic idiots who refuse to believe the OVERWHELMING science that pinpoints lead as a killer of birds who pick it up while feeding, and the overwhelming science that it is actually very bad for humans as well one can only assume that they have already consumed enough lead to make them particularly brainless, there can’t be another reason – can there?!

I guess all this just goes to prove that the hunting fraternity in the US really does not give a damn about conservation, apart from conserving what they hoot, and certainly has no pride in their rare wildlife.

Public asked to help stop lead poisoning as three more condors die

Six California condors were discovered to have toxic levels of lead in their bodies in early May. Three of the birds died of lead poisoning and the other three were successfully treated and released back into the wild. "X-rays showed 18 shotgun pellets in the digestive system of one bird and 6 in another. The third had remains of a spent bullet in its system, all suggesting these scavengers died after eating one or more animal carcasses that had been shot," said Chris Parish, head of The Peregrine Fund's condor recovery program in Arizona.

31 May 11 - Lead continues to hamper condor recovery in Arizona and Utah; 3 condors die

GRAND CANYON, Arizona – Recent episodes of lethal lead poisoning in California condors have biologists asking for more help from the public to conserve endangered condors in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

Tests indicated that a total of six California condors had toxic levels of lead in their bodies in early May. Three of the birds died of lead poisoning. The other three were successfully treated and released back into the wild. Necropsies were conducted by the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.

“X-rays showed 18 shotgun pellets in the digestive system of one bird and 6 in another. The third had remains of a spent bullet in its system, all suggesting these scavengers died after eating one or more animal carcasses that had been shot,” said Chris Parish, head of The Peregrine Fund’s condor recovery program in Arizona.

Biologists were alerted to the most recent poisoning incident by a Grand Canyon hiker who reported seeing a dead condor. Biologists recovered the bird, an 11-year-old male that had been nesting in the area.

“The loss of this older condor is especially harmful to the recovery of the species because of its potential to add to the population as a breeding bird,” Parish said. “While the Arizona program is experiencing some positive milestones, like the new chick that recently hatched in the wild, the availability of lead to condors continues to hamper the program.”

After receiving the hiker’s report, Peregrine Fund biologists immediately began capturing other condors known to have been in the same area to try to determine the cause of death. Of nearly 30 birds captured and tested, five had toxic blood lead levels that required treatment and two died, in addition to the bird found by the hiker. The other three birds were released back into the wild after chelation treatment, a process used to remove lead from the birds’ systems.

Chronic lead poisoning paralyzes a condor’s digestive system, which leads to starvation, weakness, and death. Acute lead poisoning, typical of high doses, can kill condors more quickly.

“If the hiker hadn’t found the dead bird and reported it, this exposure event might have slipped under our radar and the population could have suffered the loss of even more birds,” Parish said. “Annual exposures tend to follow the big-game hunting seasons, but this episode shows that it can happen anytime. Condors are scavengers and if carcasses or discarded remains are left in the field, they will consume them.”

Since 2005, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has been working with hunters in the condors’ core range of northern Arizona to voluntarily use non-lead ammunition. The effort has resulted in up to 90 percent of hunters taking efforts to reduce the amount of lead available to condors. The department has provided free non-lead ammunition to hunters drawn in affected game management units and also to Navajo animal control officers and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department.

“Arizona Game and Fish has been encouraged by the support it has received from hunters to use non-lead ammunition in condor range, but we’re asking for anyone who uses a firearm to harvest or dispatch wildlife or domestic animals to use non-lead ammunition or remove the carcasses from the field in condor range,” said Kathy Sullivan, the Game and Fish condor program coordinator.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources began a non-lead program for hunters last year to benefit condors that have expanded their foraging range to Zion National Park and surrounding areas.

When hunters learn that lead ammunition harms wildlife, they often are willing to use non-lead bullets or haul the remains out of the field.

“I am a hunter and until a few years ago I had no idea that lead-based ammunition was harmful,” Parish said. “Now, like many hunters who are aware of the problem, I use non-lead ammo and find that it offers fantastic performance.”

There are now 68 California Condors flying free in the wild in Arizona. Another nine condors are in a holding pen awaiting release within the next few months.

And it is not just the US chaps!!!!

Lead rains down...

A study funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has shown that almost 70% of ducks shot in England are illegally shot with lead ammunition.

Out of 492 ducks bought from game dealers, supermarkets and butchers, 344 contained lead ammunition. This figure is similar to that found in 2002 in a study, showing compliance with the law has not improved over the last eight years. A survey of shooters indicated that most understood the law, but nearly half (45%) admitted to breaking it. The main reasons given for breaking the law were that there was only a small chance of being caught, disbelief lead is a problem, as well as the lack of availability

and cost of lead-free ammunition. The failure to enforce legislation and protect wildfowl in wetlands from lead poisoning would be a big enough concern in itself. But recent evidence has suggested that lead poisoning is a problem away from wetlands, where a wider range of species can suffer from lead poisoning. This includes birds of prey that ingest lead shot (or even bullet fragments) when feeding on shot and non-retrieved game. Of course, it’s not just birds of prey that eat game shot with lead ammunition – people do, too. Fragments of lead ammunition left in food are not necessarily removed by the standard butchering process, and potentially dangerous lead levels can be found in food for human consumption.

The Government has established a Lead Ammunition Group, which includes representatives of shooting bodies, ammunition manufacturers, conservation and welfare groups, to look at all the new evidence and recommend a sensible response. This group will include the poor compliance with existing lead regulations in their discussions and is due to report to Ministers in 2011. See for information.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It’s was lovely day yesterday, although the forecast as usual was wrong very wrong damn them. They said rain, so I sowed grass seed yesterday morning and did not spray weeds, and in fact I should have done it the other way round!!

I collected the ‘eyes’ for our Owl Maze on Monday and a stone that had been specially carved by Rob from Royal Forest Pennant Stone. Thanks to him and Nick Horton, who gave them to us, and my goodness if you want quality carved stone, that is the place to go.

I was lucky enough to be shown an Apple Tree that is going outside Hereford Cathedral, and it is absolutely stunning, worth going to Hereford just to see it once it is in place, even if getting through Hereford is a nightmare! So the maze is complete and looks wonderful. Children seem to like the new adventure trail by the flying ground, and the one that Adam and Mark and various wonderful volunteers are doing in the wood is going to be very exciting, not for smaller children though!

The birds are flying well, the Steller’s was superb, needless to say on the day I was not here! But in a wind she is definitely getting the idea, not so good on a still day but that is not surprising. The Great Grey Owl is doing well, will be on demonstration soon and the baby Abyssinian Eagle Owl is one of the charming owls I have yet to meet. Holly’s little White-faced Scops Owl, (thanks to Mick) is also very sweet and I have a new baby Burrowing Owl who is just a scrap of a thing at the moment. Very soon the Lanners will be able to come out, and the young Harris Hawks are fledged and flying around in the aviary.

The two people who came on the photography day have put some lovely comments on our Facebook Page, they apparently had a wonderful day despite the rain, and there is a great video of Sedge running in the Lurcher Race and the Falconers Fair in May which is on there as well. Holly has put up some new pictures. Sadly we did not have enough people wanting to come to the first summer barbeque, so I hope you will book in for the July one, it should be fun, and Richard Will have finished the lights by then!

The grass in the bottom field is finally growing, although needs spraying for non grass weeds very soon and the top field is almost all buttercups, which are going to cop it very soon too. The pond is fractionally fuller than it was although I think it is going to take some major rain to fill it up again. Life got rather interesting on Thursday for the 2.00 pm demonstration, we have had a swarm of bees trying to take residence in the roof of my house, and they are seriously upsetting the House Martins, which I am not pleased about. However as we started the second demonstration, either them or another swarm came buzzing down to the flying ground, we had done two birds and decided to take Ruby into the indoor Hawk Walk and wait and see what happened outside. Well a huge swarm took up home in one of the Walnut trees just behind the seats in the flying ground. We did fly the Steller's but had the audience sitting on the play area! Sue phoned a friend who is into bees and two of them came, we used Richard's big hedge stepladder - thanks Richard, and they climbed up, pruned back some of the branches and then one of them held a tiny - well it looked bloody small to us (!) - basket out and Adam and the other chap shook the branch with a rope, and blow me they

dropped into the basket - did it have a top - nope! Then it was brought down out of the tree and gently placed open end down onto a sheet and the bees all either stayed in there, or climbed around and then went it, they did about three other shakes into one of our buckets and after about a couple of hours, off they went with the sheet wrapped round the hive thing - in the back of their car!! Amazing!

The heavy rain promised for Friday never came here, my tractor arrived, but with the wrong mower, so that is coming on Tuesday, with a five foot cut that should save Nathan a lot of time once he gets the hang of it. Richard HH has been working on designs for a potential new shop and cafe, something that we desperately need, we spend hours yesterday on it and I know he spend even more time previously, I envy the programme he is using, but it looks hard to learn.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

While I remember, can anyone who is using those weird email groups, business link, que pasa and the like, please not include me. I don’t like them, they are invasive and a bloody nuisance, so if you have tried to get me to join and I have not replied it is because I don’t want to get involved with them, not because I don’t like you! If you want to talk to me – use my email which you already have, otherwise I would not have heard from you!! Don’t be offended, but know that I will and do immediately delete them. The same goes for texts, I don’t do texts or my mobile answer phone, I delete all those on the few occasions that I even turn on my mobile phone!! So be warned!

It’s been a miserable day, rain, rain and more rain, although the ground, grass and plants need it badly, I just wish it would bloody come on a Monday (not a bank holiday) and not a Sunday. I drove up to Yorkshire to a good friend’s wedding, left on Thursday as we had some work to do and drove back leaving at about 4.00 am this morning. I hit the rain just as I got onto the M5 and it literally has not stopped all day. The wedding was fine, both parties rolled up, always a good sign!! Seriously, it was lovely and the weather held, the church was wonderful and the champagne at the reception excellent. I was taken out to supper on both Friday and Sat, what a treat. I worked out as I was driving back that in fact I have only ever been to seven weddings, one in the US (they have an amazing number of do’s – wedding rehearsal, wedding dinner, wedding disco, wedding breakfast, wedding, wedding reception, I have to admit I did not enjoy it but then I did not go with a particularly pleasant or attentive person, and I had to change three times!) and five over here, two in the sixties, three in the 80’s (one of which was mine!) and one yesterday. There were a number of children at this wedding………………………I have decided that no children are allowed to come to my funeral, only friends and a lot of Labradors!

We had to fly the birds indoors today, some of them really are very good considering that the indoor hawk walk is not huge, but I wish we had the building that I put up at Eardisland, it was designed for an indoor flying arena and it was stunning and would have been great here. My cousin came down with baby Tawny Owl number six, which will be fostered and then released later in the year. My baby Great Grey Owl has grown and will need to start to come into the house tomorrow, he is particularly noisy. I have a ton of stuff that I need to get done but with being away it has slipped back a little. So Monday – nose to the grind stone!

I just heard on the news that various students are up in arms because one of them got arrested for downloading an al qaeda manual. Well I for one am delighted that people are vigilant enough to see that as a possible threat and if the student, who presumably is an intelligent person did not warn the University he was going to do it for his research, then he is pretty short sighted.

We had a photography day today, three people cancelled because of the rain, two came, and I think they had a great time. We were able to do a little outside, but mostly we had birds inside and Linda got them taking some lovely stuff, and the close ups were to die for. So just because it rains, don’t think you won’t get good stuff here – you will! We are very adaptable!

This picture we took on the trip to the Bath and West!!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Its June! Blow me down where does the year go. The Bath and West Show went well, it is absolutely exhausting to be away from home and doing two demonstrations per day, I don't think people realise just how tiring it is. The show was good, we did eight excellent demonstrations and the birds were faultless. However it was not easy, the wind was extremely strong for all four days, and it was hot as hell on the Friday, but the real problem was the sodding gulls. Every time we started to fly the birds the gulls started to appear, my considered opinion is that the best gull is a dead one!! By the time we got to the eagle on each demonstration they were up to about 20 of the damn things and they gave Hare a miserable time.

I don't think people understand just how difficult they make my job, they dive consistently at the birds and keep their height down, so what should have been a great day for superb flying on the Friday with the eagle was spoilt by the XXXXXDX gulls!! At one point I thought one of the Lesser Black Backed Gulls was going to actually catch one of the male lanners, but all things considered the birds did not let me down and did very well. Oh, that is with the exception of Bay Middleton, (male Harris Hawk) who did a good demonstration on the first day, an excellent one on the second day and on the third and fourth day behaved like a completely untrained bird!! He refused to do anything. Needless to say, today, at home, he remembered he was a trained bird and had it not been raining all day and me being very tired, he would have flown in his normal fashion, as it is I am still pissed off with him!

Everything is more or less OK here, one or two problems, but nothing that is not part of the normal routine of this place. The grass is finally growing, which reminds me, I sort of bought a tractor at the Bath and West!!!!!!!!! Well wait a bit, we desperately need a better mower for Nathan, but if I buy a good commercial mower - that is all it does - mow.

So there was this tractor - an elderly but really good one, with grass tyres, which means we can take it over the field at almost any time, and a great finishing mower with a five foot cut. So.................... it will be here in about ten days, so I have to tell Nathan and at the same time have a word about the second light that has just been written off!

The birds are well, the away team was very pleased to be home, as was I I have to say. I have to drive to Yorkshire later this week for a wedding and I have no clothes that are suitable. My wardrobe really is getting somewhat scary it is so poor. But we will give the Range Rover a test and see if it can get to Yorkshire and back, otherwise it will be the AA that I am calling!! While I was away the BBC emailed to see if we could tell them of a good place to fly a kestrel for filming and bugger me, they were using someone else for the damn filming - what a bloody nerve to ask us and not use our birds. That would be like me emailing ITV and stating that I was filming with the BBC and could they tell me of a good location they have used in the past!!!!!!!!!!

Other than that, I have caught up with most of the emails and probably only annoyed two people at most, I am desperately tired having not slept well for days, and I am looking forward to settling back down again after being away, which I do not enjoy any more. The dogs are happily asleep on the sofa's and I am aiming for an early night.


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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