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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 11 December 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I loved this one!

Every Town in England needs a Council Chief like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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