Wednesday, 31 August 2011

It only took us 22 man hours to get all the paths back to scratch after the rain last week. We had nearly an inch in half an hour, and I think most of it went down my neck. Not sure the weighing room floor is going to survive long term, the wooden bit is not looking happy after a torrent of water went through it for about an hour and a half. Still it should not happen again as we have now built a barrier that will stop almost anything (I hope!)

Iloana and Joan arrived last week and Iloana is doing sterling work in the gardens, we planted up the area that Sally completely cleared and watered it, just before the downpour!!

Charlie is here and we are getting ready for the event, which is exciting, or it would be if I did not have an awful cold and cough – I am

planning on having pneumonia by Saturday!!

The man doing the dog demonstration for the event is now not coming, however Howard Kirby has stepped into the breech, he can’t do the Saturday but will be here for the Sunday, I am looking forward to meeting such a helpful chap, and I have promised to put my lot in for the demonstration.

A number of people seem to want to bring dogs and birds to the event. Just look at it this way chaps, if you were visiting the Centre, which to all intents and purposes you are, you would not bring livestock, so sadly the same applies for this event.

Charlie and I have marked out all the stands and marquees, Mike has opened up the parking field, which looks great. Sally and I have picked up horse poo from the stall holders camping areas ( nice of us hey chaps!) and the beer and wine has been ordered. The place looks great and the volunteers have been stunningly wonderful to help us. I appreciate it a great deal guys. The weather looks set to be fair, come on over!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Well I am soaked to the skin, I have spent the last hour sweeping water from the weighing room and I dread to think what the paths are going to look like tomorrow, we have had serious rain, what I think we used to call a cloud burst. Heavy heavy rain, hail and water rushing everywhere. It is at this time when you realise that the gutters probably need a clean. Luckily I know where all the drains are that will need a clear, so I dive in and remove whatever is blocking them and watch the water swirl away. My top pond is full and I suspect that the bottom pond will look a little more like a pond by the morning. The birds are OK, Mollie is ignoring thunder and lightening and not bothering to come in although there is food and hay for her in the stable when she feels like it. Tomorrow will be a clear up day I suspect, which is a shame with a Bank holiday already upon us and our falconry event only a week away! Ah well, these little things are sent to try us……………………

To give a good demonstration, a good lecture, write a good weblog, make a slide presentation to go on the computer, any of these things, to do it well, to give of your best, is to do just that, to give of yourself. At the end of a day, or a lecture, or as I just have, watched one of the old slide presentations on my weblog, you give away a part of yourself, I sometimes wonder if you ever get it back, but I think you do in the comments and thanks from the visitors that we get on a daily basis. When someone says – as two people did today – that it was the best £10 they ever spent, that makes giving so much of yourself away not only worthwhile, but also renewable, it gives you the energy to do the same thing the following day and the many after that.

I watched the slide show and realised that I give away a huge part of my personal life with photos of the birds, dogs, house, all the things that I love, but I am happy and proud to be able to share them with anyone who is interested. Although I have to say that it is draining nevertheless, but the right sort of tiredness I hope.

We were busy again Wednesday , the weather has been very very kind to us this year, and although very dry, that does bring out the visitors. I did manage at the end of the day to have enough energy to take Mollie out for a ride and a very pleasant one we had, I then gave her a bath afterwards, not sure she enjoyed it that much, but after I had left her with a rug on and some supper for her, and some scrambled eggs for me, I went back out and checked she was dry and warm, and then groomed her, she is positively gleaming now and looks wonderful.

I have apparently recovered from Sorrel’s attempt at felling me, and although still a little stiff I could move properly today again, thank goodness. All the birds flew well and Tewa who is out to work after a break is keen already. Holly’s Barbary went AWOL for a few hours but was back before the end of the evening and Mark and my merlin's are coming on nicely.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

It was a beautiful day yesterday, warm and sunny and we were very busy, which is good, but tiring by the end of the day, we had four people on the falcon experience day, and I don’t think I stopped all day. Having said that, I did take some time off first thing and took Mollie out for a ride, she was very good and we went up onto May Hill for the first time, she behaved excellently even going past another horse on the way back down again. Today Sally came and lunged her, she does not know how to walk well on the lunge but that will come.

My little Merlin came to the lure yesterday for the first time, which is good, I am so looking forward to flying him, it is a long time since I have flown one. Holly’s Barbary is coming on nicely as is my one, and the three new Lanners are now all flying loose, as are two of the three Yellow-billed Kites. Bush Master is excellent and doing really well. Simon’s Great Grey is flying beautifully, and he is very fond of her, interestingly all the others in the clutch we had her from died, just goes to show what a good vet Neil Forbes is and he most definitely saved her, him and Simon.

Adam has a new Steppe Eagle just out, who is very pretty and hopefully will fly well. We have grounded Hard Tackle and two of the Lanners to make room for the new birds, and because they really did need a rest. But we got out Tewa so that we have one adult falcon going through the winter.

We moved the two baby Steller’s Sea Eagles today, mum and dad have had enough of them now and need to have some time on their own, so the kids are in an aviary together until we decide what to do with them. On the other hand the White-tailed Eagles have been fighting again, so we have had to take steps with the female again.

The doors for the winterizing of the Hawk Walk are done and put up on the top side now with catches to hold them open. Next we have to do the bottom side and then line each compartment and paint them, still we are moving on as they say.

Today started damp, but improved, however I am a little sore as Sorrel bowled me over in the field at our early morning walk, I hit the ground and more importantly split my early morning cuppa!! Not good, so I have been stiff all day, a good excuse for ibuprofen and gin – a well-known combination! Oh and yesterday after a very long day we picked damsons and made four litres of damson gin, my recycle bin looks a little concerning with five empty bottles of gin in there!! I am going to give blackberry gin a try to make this year as well!

I put on facebook that if anyone has any time in the next two weeks, we could do with a hand painting and tidying – let me know!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I woke up very early yesterday morning, I had not slept that well, and I had both bedroom windows open and it was decidedly chilly in there. In fact early morning had a very definite autumnal feel to it. The previous day by the last demonstration the feel of the day had changed, instead of being warm and humid, it was warm but much fresher, the air was lighter. Many of the trees are changing very early, because of the lack of rain I guess. However it was a glorious morning, and I think that the autumn is probably my favourite time of the year, so I did not mind the autumn feel.

It remained good most of the day until the last demonstration when it became over cast and was very slightly raining, but that did not last long. I had hoped for a peaceful evening, but I had opened the French windows and let the dogs out, and forgot they were out there. At about 9.00pm I went out to check on Mollie and Sorrel was outside. On my return to the house could I find Sedge – oh no, I called, I looked under the decking, I searched the house, the shop, the workshop, the field, no Sedge I was getting very worried. Luckily Adam came up and found him stuck under another part of the damn decking – for the fourth time, so the decking is now being removed, which should solve the problem and get rid of the rabbits that are breeding under there. I can’t cope with worrying about him and Acer got stuck under there, and Sorrel has tried, so it has to go. One day perhaps I will be able to afford a really nice Conservatory, but for now it will be a big step out of the doors!

Holly’s Barbary Falcon went loose for the first time yesterday, as did Adam’s Lanner, so that makes all of the large falcons flying free now, there are a couple of Yellow-billed Kites to get off the creance and the two merlins are only just feeding on the fist, oh and the Steppe Eagle is doing well but very early stages right now.

And good news from Charlie, the little tiercel that he took for us last year to release has been trained and he has flown it, and then he cut a hole in his new barn (what we do for these birds) and has had it at hack (flying loose but can come back if it wants to) in his words it buggered off and killed a crow 200 yards away! So that is another one we can say should go back safely, which is good news for us and for Charlie.

My sister Dinah has left, has gone to riot torn London and flies out back to Brooklyn today. It was good to have her here, even for a short time, she always looks after me and gives me great meals – no wonder I miss her!

The last two pictures are Mary Catherine with Spy our Goshawk, whom she loved and James with Pioneer the Steller's Sea Eagle, whom he said was bloody heavy, it was such fun to have them here at Newent, particularly MC after all the less than pleasant experiences we shared in South Carolina. It is nice to know that she still has Saluda, her African Spotted Eagle Owl and he is doing well!

I am hoping to get a saddle this evening that will be comfortable for Mollie, I have not been able to ride her because the girth gave her a sore which has now healed, it will be good to get it sorted out so I don’t have to worry, she has a particularly fine skin, and so we have to be very careful with her, she is a lovely person though.

The new doors to go on the Hawk Walk to keep the birds warm and safe in cold winters are coming on. The top side is built and need to go up and the bottom side Mike has just started, we should get them done and up by the end of this month, and then we have to line the compartments and Richard has to do the electrics! It has been a busy August, I would like to have a month with no projects!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Visiting us on Thursday was generally not a pleasant experience, not because of us I hasten to add, the day went well with the birds and all flew well, we even got out both of the merlin's due to start now, I am looking forward to training mine, however the whole place absolutely stank! The farmer who rents the land to the east and south of us kindly decided that as the wind was coming towards us from his land it would be a great day to spread chicken shit all over the fields. I might point out that I had expressly asked him to wait until there was an easterly wind, but no, he chose the worst day possible in terms of the wind direction. So from about 9.30am until the end of the day we had tractors going round spraying the bloody stuff to within feet of the aviaries and the café. The smell was dire, enough to make you actually want to throw up, the visitors were amazingly patient about it, but no one could eat outside, although the weather was warm, and all the cars in the car park were covered in the stuff by the end of the day. I was and still am pretty pissed off about it, I do not think it was a kind or neighbourly thing to do.

I then had great fun the following morning, I have been trying to indd out where I tell what used to sensibly be called the Ministry of Agriculture, and used to employ vets, and is now called AHVLA which happens to be the same bunch that deal with CITES - that I am importing a male King Vulture for the King Vulture EEP so that we might breed some. I gather that I have to inform the relevant authorities that I am bringing the bird in from a zoo in France.

So logically you would think I would phone AHVLA in Gloucester, so I did, and they said, no you need to phone Chelmsford where things are centralised. Chelmsford said No, you need to phone your local area, which now things have been centralised is Exeter (really close to here!!), third phone call Exeter who said, (Guess what!) No; that now that things have been centralised you have to phone Carlisle (so now I have been round the bloody country). Was it the right place – no, that is centralised for Export not imports, however Carlisle were helpful, they said that they were the wrong place ( there is a surprise), but they would phone round for us and let us know who to phone. And guess what, we have to phone the local people in Gloucester.

The smell of chicken dung is slowly seeping away and we have our last summer barbeque and Owl evening this evening, then the next thing is the Falconry Event on the first weekend in September and we have just organised three Golden Eagles to come and be here for the weekend. And here is a picture of Mollie, my new horse, not with me on board I hasten to add - well not yet, but soon!

Quote for the weekend E.O. Wilson Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the "environmentalist" view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Well isn’t it just a wonderful time we are seeing with our towns and cities at the moment. All these lovely people who consider that it is perfectly acceptable behaviour to go on the rampage, steal, set fire to buildings, ruin people’s livelihoods, cause others to lose their jobs because of the damage, and generally behave in about the most moronic fashion, the more civilized and intelligent of us have ever seen.

I am ashamed that these people are living in the same country as I am. When you think what people in other countries such as Syria are facing, some fighting and losing their lives to gain democracy, where the idiots over here probably don’t even know they already have it, and certainly could not spell it, let alone understand the word. Others starving to death, where I saw little evidence of that in the pictures we were seeing on our TV screen, sadly all we saw was unforgivable and sheer greedy behaviour from people who were more than well fed.

The time has come to stop pussy footing around. Our teachers and police have been successfully emasculated by people who think that children should be empowered and wrong doers should be treated well. Neither teachers nor the police have any respect anymore and it is not surprising as we don’t allow them to their jobs properly. We need to go back to a time when if you misbehaved the people in charge of you at the time had the power to stop you doing it. Not be concerned that they might get sacked for telling off a child, or sued for using stronger methods to control crowds. It is time to give teachers back the power they used to have and remove the right to complain that you failed an exam because you were a lazy bugger. It goes through all walks of life up to the time when people are supposed to take responsibility for themselves. When you are not responsible, then you should be made to behave by those who are, when you are responsible, you should stop blaming others and get on with trying to do things better. The courts need to stop feeling sorry for the criminal element and remember the victims.

This country should not be in this state or be held to ransom by a bunch of people who when listening to them on the Television not only have no idea why they are behaving as they are, but who are thieves and thugs into the bargain, just using whatever excuse they can think up to be generally vile. Police and teachers need to be able to regain the respect they had and that means they need to be given back their power, and included in that is the right to be able to comfort a child if it needs it, not to be afraid you are going to be accused of being a sexual deviant.

On the other side, congratulation to the young people we saw a glimpse of on the news, who went out and helped to clear up the devastation, what a shame there are not more of that type of person around and encouraged.

We have had the saddest little bird in a couple of days ago, and it is not the first time. We had a young freshly fledged Hobby just left the nest come in. Its leg was broken, twisted and one toe dead, all from the bloody plastic binder twine, the stuff that holds bales of hay and straw together. It is vile stuff, firstly it is made from oil, like most plastics. I personally would prefer to have oil in the form of fuel which I can use for the foreseeable future, rather than plastic that I have to get rid of in my recycle bins. We need to go back, natural fibres sisal for binder twine, which rots over time, paper bags which comes from trees which are a natural resource and give us oxygen on a nighttime basis. The Hobby had to be euthanised as the injury was too bad and too old to fix.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A friend just sent me this set of pictures, which are a disgrace to us all, where is this happening, Costa Rica, so make sure you don't go on holiday there and give them any of your support or money until this is stopped. When are we going to learn that this stunning planet is not just ours to rape and pillage.

The Turtle eggs are stolen - harvested if you prefer ( I prefer Stolen myself, harvested is not the right word here, this is wholesale theft and murder) - to be sold.

EXPLAIN AN EXTINCTION, aren't you just so proud to be human and the most intelligent animal in the world
Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I have to admit to being absolutely furious this evening, Holly, with some assistance from me, is trying very hard to get all our bird records straight, which is not easy at the best of times, especially with the work load we have at the moment and when dealing with a government department is made even less easy.

I am old enough to remember when bird registration first came in, in fact I have wished since 1979 that the falconers at the original meeting in Stoneleigh had said let’s have licensing of the falconers and owners, rather than the birds, but they didn't, which to this day I believe was a huge mistake. However the first bird to be ringed with a cable tie and registered was our Golden Eagle Sable, who removed the cable tie within ten minutes!! The government department was then called the Department of the Environment, or DOE, they are now called AHVLA don’t ask me what it stands for, (although I bet I could think something up!) we have all given up guessing as to what they are calling themselves these days.

My computer keeps wanting to call them HALVA, which personally I believe would be just as bloody accurate. They have gone through at least four name changes, all of which cost us the tax payer huge sums of money for a new logo (as if any of us give a damn about it) new name, new stationary, IT and so on. They used to do what they do for conservation reasons, now I see absolutely no conservation efforts on their parts whatsoever.

Now they have policemen on secondment who are convinced that any and everyone who has anything to do with keeping birds of prey must be a criminal, in fact I am surprised that the prejudice that we see is not held against them in any court cases. Now I am not saying that all falconers and bird of prey keepers are whiter than white, far from in, there are a fair number that I am disgusted with, however not all of us are out to break the law. Any more than we should judge all policemen by those who take bribes, or bend the law, or civil servants who leak important documents, or even become traitors to their own country. I don’t imply that all those who work in these fields are criminals and so similarly we should not be judged.

But today was just the bitter end. We applied to get what is called an Article 10 certificate for a wild disabled Hobby. Now let me explain that if we put any British birds of prey on display to the general public this is called commercial, the fact that they make little difference to our commercial success or failure apparently is neither here nor there. The fact that we take in and care for injured wild birds and the government does nothing apart from charge those who do for paperwork, is not taken into consideration. The fact that the idiots in CITES who changed the annexes and so put all European birds of prey at the same status, regardless of the fact that Black Kites are the most highly numeric birds of prey in the world, and yet Eleonora’s Falcons are rare and on the decline, did not seem to enter their tiny brains, so because of these idiots we have to run the gauntlet of paperwork and pay through the nose to do so.

However those facts aside, we applied for the bird and others with our cheques for £100, and were sent a letter asking yet more questions, some were about a Eurasian Griffon Vulture we bred this year, The questions about our education policy, the target audience (whoever walks through the bloody door!) the signage, how it pertains to the national curriculum (that is staggeringly full of vulture stuff of course) what conservation benefit will accrue to the species, etc etc, were not only endless, but if they don’t know that to get a zoo licence we have to fulfill criteria every bit as high as these questions if not higher, then they should be ashamed of themselves. Apparently they have no idea that the Centre is involved with the vulture project in India and Nepal, or any of the conservation work that we do, interestingly that supposes that English Nature doesn’t either, regardless of the fact that I have over the years sent them piles and I mean PILES of information on what we do, and they email me fairly regularly asking for advice!! Still we got all the bloody paperwork together which takes time and staff, and by the time it was all done the Hobby had very thoughtlessly died on us.

Robin who is our education officer thought it would be very useful to take its wings and dry them and use them to demonstrate to the visitors in our new education building the differences between a Hobby and a Kestrel, both of which are seen in the UK. So while I was on the phone checking that if we sent all the stuff up they would please keep it on file so that we would not have to do it again – which we are going to have to do because apparently the education stuff we do for the birds has to stipulate the individual species, otherwise we could be doing all the stuff for every bird on the place Except the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, my goodness to think I might have got that wrong. I then mentioned that the Hobby had died and I assumed that we would need an Article 10 to use the wings so could the wording on the application be changed from Live bird to Dead bird. NOPE! Not only did we lose the £25 for the Article 10 for the bird, which we never got, so that was £25 for no Article 10, but we would have to reapply with another £25 for the dead Hobby. Now I consider that to be extortion, it is disgraceful, it is nothing to do with conservation, it is downright greed and blindingly unhelpful to the people who are responsible for them having a damn job in the first place! So sadly the dead Hobby is going to go on the bonfire, what a criminal waste of what could have been a very useful educational tool and I would like to congratulate AHVLA, on your bird conservation, it is quite without par. Of course my MBE is for services to bird conservation, I wonder what services you could get one for?


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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