Friday, 29 July 2011

We had a perfectly glorious weekend start to the school holidays, we have had some lovely customers this week, it is always so much fun when you know they are enjoying themselves. Although I have discovered something today, I often wondered how the decision was made as to who flew the Steller’s to the fist at the end of the demonstration, and answered all the questions, and who was at the bottom of the field calling her. Well I found out!! It depends on how many pretty girls there are in the audience!! So they have a look and then choose who is going to do what!! Can you believe it!!

The new aviaries are nearly finished, the feather edge just has to be stained and the owls are loving their new homes already, Sidewinder is digging away on the floor and playing with worms!- update - they are finished! Now we start on the doors for the outdoor Hawk Walk to make that suitable for use during cold weather, which also means we can turn a part of the indoor Hawk Walk into a photographic studio.

I have had two friends over from South Carolina Mary Catherine and James, they were here for a week and the weather has been very kind, warm during the day and cooler at night, they loved it particularly as it is hot as hell in the US at the moment. They completed a new path over the lawn by the weighing room, it is made of very heavy pavers, which they had to move and I suspect were very glad to see the back of, but it was worth it and it looks great and will save the lawn, so James feels now that he has left a permanent mark on the place. I on the other hand appear to have left only blood around the place, I managed to try and take the top of my finger with a step ladder, I then discovered that both Simon and Mike had done the same thing, but with less blood, so the ladder is now residing on the scrap metal pile! I caught my thumb in the Ferruginous’s beak while I was coping him and then damn me Rhadamanthus landed on my arm, and while takin g off to go to Adam managed to leave a couple of gouges in my arm, which bled copiously! So my typing is a little haphazard and I will not be playing the piano for a few days!! Which is probably a relief to the dogs whom I believe are not impressed by my playing!

My pond is very low, but if it is a choice between enough rain to fill it, and nice weather for the next three months, I know which I am likely to take! Henry is apparently doing well with the girl who now has him, he is not behaving that well, but she does not seem to mind. I am trying out a new horse who is called Mollie, I know there is a horse out there for me, I just have to find it.

James and Mary Catherine went to Gigrin Farm with Linda to see the kites, one of these days I will go, but I think the autumn would be when I would like to see them. Our baby Kite (yellow Billed) is going to fly loose today, he is nearly there with the catches and the training line is getting in the way now, so today is the day! We have been watching the celebrations on the news, a year to go for the Olympics, I guess I should be more interested, but I have to say that celebrating a year ahead seems a little odd. That would be like celebrating our 45 anniversary here the year before!!

I have to say I do wonder about HM Customs and how bright they actually are. I asked one of my part time staff to do an extra day each week and after a couple of weeks she came to me and told me that the amount of tax she is having to pay means that she gets less than if she worked two days a week so she needs to go back to two days not three! That is nothing short of crazy, what is wrong with the people in government, can they not see just how stupid this is. I once spoke to a woman who worked for one of the government departments and asked her why people were moved around from one department to another without actually having the expertise needed to do the new job, she said it was a remnant of how the civil service worked during the war years. Well all I can say is if I ran my business like the civil service runs the various departments I would fail.

Friday, 22 July 2011

I have just watched the BBC news, needless to say that the Newspaper scandal is still high on the list of items, and now it appears the media, the BBC TV news included is out for as much blood as they can get. It is interesting to note that where they are pushing for top policemen and our prime minister to accept responsibility for the appalling behaviour of the media, have we ever seen a news reporter or a TV reporter resign because they have got something wrong? Have we seen them apologise to accusing, lets mention Spain in the recent Salmonella scare, no we haven’t. I loathe the way the media, all of them, apparently feel they can run the country. There is an aggressive bias in the way the TV people interview subjects, there is a complete lack of compassion, or understanding that very often humans in all walks of life will make mistakes.

Regardless of the knock on effect of this mess, the responsibility for the initial disgraceful behaviour, the spying, phone hacking and bribing, lies firmly and squarely with the media. At the moment the Murdock empire is taking the blame, but I very much doubt if it stops just with his newspaper group.

I remember seeing on the TV news many years ago a camera man filming a woman who had just been taken in to see her husband, or relation had survived one of the ferry disasters, now he was there filming it – by chance? I don’t think so! So you can pretty much bet he knew before she did, and he was there as a voyeur to spy on the event. I was disgusted, as indeed I am when I see the media like a scurrying horde of ants over powering an animal and killing it, chasing after people to get a picture of them in their car fleeting away, are we such awful creatures that we need this rather poor picture of whoever the person is who may in the end turn out to be completely innocent. I have no affection for Mr Murdock, but do we really want or need to see an old man buffeted, pushed and shoved by the media desperate to get a picture.

I believe that the media, all of them, need to stand back and have a good long look at themselves and their behaviour and remember that sadly they do have far more power than they really deserve. Therefore they should treat that power with respect, honour and decency, none of which has been very evident in their behaviour during my life time, and which is rapidly getting worse.

One of my staff just sent me this!

In the queue at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator or lift in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. We were also not an overweight lazy bunch of humans because of it.

But he was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's nappy’s because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that was right we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them before we had paper throw away ones?), not a screen the size of Wales .
In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used a padded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised and kept fit and lean by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But he's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a tap or water fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water, and amazingly we survived without carrying drinking water we drank when we were thirsty! We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the train or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service, which causes a nightmare for those trying to get to work, and keeps our children fat. We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. We even had enough brain to use a map.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Interesting eh?

Oh and two other things, yesterday I drove along the M50 - very slowly - not through choice, but because there are 7 miles of roadworks along there. Every so often we passed a sign stating that the road was closed for the safety of the workers - WHAT WORKERS!!!!!!!!! in seven miles a friend who came the other way earlier saw none and we saw (we were counting at that point) two people, one driving a truck and the other playing around with cones, and that ladies and gentlemen was all being done with your taxes!! As for the idiot driving the Asda lorry at 10.30pm on my return journey, thanks whoever you are, at least I had no chance of being done for speeding, we never even got to 40 mph!

My last beef today is the price of fuel on the motorway, I was staggered to pay 10 pence more per litre than a garage I had stupidly passed the previous day and not thought about filling up. Why are these places allowed to charge so much more and don't tell me its because they are on the motorway because they get a ton more customers by being there, it is an undiluted rip off and I hope they get ripped off in the same way!
Sunday, 17 July 2011

Our summer BBQ and Owl evening went very well, we had a full house, and although the day started off very grey and raining, by the afternoon, the sun was out, the grey clouds were high and the weather was pretty damn good for the evening. Adam and Mark took a baby guided tour – i.e. a tour of all the enclosures with birds with young, and then we had burgers and sausages and white wine spritzers, followed by a demonstration. The birds were very good, the new Common Buzzard was a little annoyed at being left that late in the day, but did well as did Mark’s new Lanner, Sidewinder who is much improved was enchanting and went down a tunnel several times, Grey Cobra was excellent, and so was Harley, who really in coming on now, we were going to leave him until last but had a phone call about the missing Milky Eagle Owl, so a team shot off to see if we could find him and I finished off with Barn Owls, we brought down the baby Barn Owl, which like most of the Barn Owl family are not that attractive as chicks, and followed that with ‘one we made earlier’!

Pan, who was his normal excellent self. It was just getting towards dark, and it was lovely to end up with an owl that people might see in the evenings in the wild.

Yesterday we had a young Sparrowhawk in, she had been found in the middle of a corn field, not sure how she got there, but she is feeding well, too young to go as yet. The Vale Rescue Centre brought her in, and at the same time delivered six Hedgehogs to be released, which I did just before dark, they finally ambled off into the wood, I hope they like it here and stay, and survive the damn badgers who eat them.

Never did get round to doing the Kestrel photo damn it, it has been a hectic week I have to say and I am not feeling that well today. Henry is going to have to come back, he has not behaved as he should have done, so I have to collect him next week, blowed if I know what I am going to do with him, particularly if he is getting that difficult.

It’s raining again a little this morning and we have the usual half experience day, Mark and Adam are off for their days off, and Holly is in. She will be pleased to see Boom slang again. We have had to separate Boom slang and Sidewinder, they are going through the teenage stage and scrapping with one another. Their new aviaries will be ready in about a week I hope, then we are going to extend the small aviaries at the top of the hawk walk a little and make them better and more roomy. I have to say that the place is looking wonderful at the moment, even if it is a little damp right now.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Well we got some rain, and it was definitely heavy stuff, I am sure the trees appreciate it, however my pond is still very low and I dare not replace the fish that died over the cold winter until it is up again or the Herons will get the lot. Sidewinder has managed to injure one wing, he has soft tissue damage and was feeling very sorry for himself, we have no idea how he did it, however he is much more cheerful now. All we have to do is work out a way to hold his right wing up for a few days as it is dropped and he is not being helpful about it as he manages to remove any bandages in about 7 minutes flat, the little devil!

A really nice girl came to see and ride Henry last week, and he is going on a trial next week, I hope she likes him as I can’t do him justice and need something a little more in keeping with my age and lack of time!

Linda took a Wild About Photo day yesterday, I hope they got the picture I would have wanted, in fact, I might even take the kestrel up onto May Hill and get the shot I want. Why Not I ask myself, indeed I answer! She (Linda that is) is very good with the photographers and very patient as it takes some time and effort to get a good shot.

We appear to be bee free for this week anyway, although we did find a large wasp’s nest in Common’s compartment, which had to be dealt with. The two baby Lanners are doing well as is my Barbary. The three baby Merlins are growing nicely as is the baby Aplomado, so all bodes well for next year’s breeding season. Baby Great Grey is still with us and slowly improving, we are crossing everything that she makes it through. Pyrites is nearly there in his retraining and Adam and I worked him yesterday, I think he is going to be Very good which is nice, and the first baby Yellow-billed Kite is close to being grown up now so will be in serious training very soon, that one is for me!

Next Saturday is our first summer Barbeque, we have a good number of people coming and they are going to see all the new birds in training of various degrees, all we need is good weather please. We have extended the roof a little on the Pavilion so that people can shelter if it rains during the demonstration, which proved very useful yesterday as it had its first serious usage. Oh and I won money on the huge Euro Lottery!! £2.80p!! A little more would have been useful, but you can’t complain.

I have been interested in all the newspaper scandal, and if you believe that it was just the one newspaper then you are nuts. Now I have relations and good friends in the newspaper reporting business so I apologise to them if I upset them, but I have to say that I was not in the slightest bit surprised at the disgraceful behaviour of British newspapers. Having been at the end of a smear campaign personally, I have no illusions about their morals, I am not convinced that the majority of people in the media actually has any, I think the drive to sell papers, or TV programmes is so great, that morals and accuracy long since went out of the window.

I also can’t see the reasoning that ‘the public has a right to know’ – why!! Apart from the fact that why anyone has any interest in the lives of grossly overpaid, incredibly badly behaved and apparently not particularly good footballers, completely defeats me, why should people have a right to know about the intimate lives, mistakes, and behaviours of others. Where did that come from – oh, could it be the media!! Unless it impinges on the GP’s safety, security, or their lives, then surely it is nothing to do with us. This insatiable, grasping and mindlessly destructive greed for gossip is a purely human trait and one that is sadly a very unpleasant one, and does not need to be fed by the media in the way that it has evolved and indeed in the way that the media has trained its public to expect.

Opppppppppppps its coffee time! And I am needed on the half experience day as well.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Another hectic week, the weather has been and still is glorious, we are busy which is great and we were up again on numbers for June, not hugely, but up, so that means we have increased our gate every month this year. It’s just a bloody shame that the government has increased the VAT so we lose 20% of it. We had yet another problem with bees yesterday. The swarm that had taken up residence in the eaves of my house swarmed again yesterday, I knew they would because they had gone into the south side of the roof which gets all the sun and so it gets hot as hell under there. They did it just before the 2.00 pm demonstration, but this time went onto the trunk of a tree in the garden, I managed to find the swarm coordinator (!) for Newent and they very kindly came up and recovered the bees whom I hope now will find a good home, preferably miles away from here. Sadly I think the House Martins have given up on their two new nests damn it as they were invaded by the bees.

The birds are doing well, the little new Great Grey Owl baby has been very ill, a virus we think, but fingers crossed, with superb treatment from Neil Forbes and great care from my staff, she is finally looking better and we are hoping she will pull through, its been a tough road for her though. Boom Slang Holly’s new White Faced Scops Owl is charming and doing well, Sidewinder my baby Burrowing Owl bids fair to be every bit as good as Copper and Ruby, he (we hope) is fearless and going through tunnels like a little windup toy, he is enchanting. Grey Cobra is the Abyssinian Eagle Owl that Donatella, our trainee is working with and he flew 20 feet to the fist yesterday, although he was not happy when a helicopter flew over – come to that neither was I! We took out the two baby Lanners a couple of days ago and Simon and Mark are training one each, Adam is waiting for his baby Kite to grow up and is working on one of the Black Kites that has finished moulting – Pyrites, so there are a ton of new birds coming on. And Karis is flying like a dream, I just need the audience to appreciate him more!!

The new tractor is going well and mowing the grass and Nathan seems to like it, he also saved the day yesterday as we had a mix up in the accounts and he is apparently a wizard and so found the missing money that Jan and I could not account for! It was so stressful Jan and I had to have a G+T for lunch yesterday!

Linda is doing great things with the website at the moment and we are in the run up to our first summer barbeque. She has put on some great new pictures, she really does work very hard on it and it shows.

I am trying to merge two word documents at the moment, I need to get on with writing a couple of books and I have two documents both of which I have worked on and I need to put them together. I went to Microsoft help and blow me to give me the answer they want to charge £28!!! Can you credit it, what a flaming rip off. They certainly should not call it help!!


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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