Saturday, 28 July 2012
What a week, Wednesday the hay was baled, and so was Mark and Sarahs. They cut and baled mine, which rather dissapointingly only made 29 bales and I needed rather more. So at 6.00pm after work, Holly, Tash, Michele, Simon, Adam, David Morton and Charlie and brother Nick and I all went over to Green Farm to help with getting in the hay – a proper country job!! The sun was out, the hay was heavy, we loaded trailors, unloaded trailers, stacked hay and got through. Being a sensible person I had got a bottle of Pims and the wherewithal to make it and we had two large thermos flasks full, which we shared with all – made the evening go rather better. About half way through Mark drove his trailer over to the Centre with the female team, I moved my old hay out of the store, and the others loaded the new hay and brought it round. Art thought the whole thing had been laid on for his amusement. We put the old hay temporarily in where the trailer lives and stacked the new hay. I needed more so we left it, let Art out and went back to Green farm, just in time to help unload the last two trailers!!! We left 40 bales on the last one to come to me later, then very very grubby and sweaty we went back to the Centre and Sally had organised a Chinese takeaway which went down very well. Finally at 10.00 pm after tidying up, I had a much needed shower and fell into bed.

The following day Shasta who has been very very quiet finally got me so worried that I took her to the vet, in the early evening, poor darling had a temperature of 105!!! So no wonder she felt poorly, it turned out to be growing pains – inflammation of the membrane over the long bones, so a hefty shot of carprieve and one of Norclav and by 11.00pm she was a different dog. The evening however was not over. The rest of the hay arrived, so very kindly everyone had stayed late and we unloaded and stacked it and put the old hay on the top, Art was pleased as he has been able to steal hay all day!!!

I tidied the yard and finished up and had a shower, fed Nick and we were just relaxing a bit when Adam can in – the baby Sparrowhawk who did not look as if he could even get off the ground – could!! He had gone into the hedge and Adam and Tash needed a hand. So out we went, finally Nick spotted him about twenty feet up in the Turkey Oak, so we got the ladder, by that time Simon had arrived, we held the ladder up in mid air and Adam climbed it, but the Sparrowhawk was having none of the net and then flew like a demon up and over the hedge and ended up about 40 feet up in the walnut tree!!

Adam was convinced he could reach it, I was less so, but he did, with ropes and tackle to keep him safe. He got the Spar, but then of course – how to get down. So I asked Simon for one of his socks (he as the only person wearing any!) he refused and said he would go and get a clean one!!!!!! My personal opinion by that time was that the Sparrowhawk did not deserve a clean one but Simon thought it might kill him to have the worn one!!

Up went the sock, in went the Sparrowhawk and down he was lowered in the sock on a creance. Tash now owes Simon a new pair of socks because he cut it open to get the bird out without upsetting it. Not, I might add that it seemed in the slightest bit concerned!!

So all ended well. The stable smells heavenly of new hay. There is a satisfying feeling knowing that you have enough hay safely in to last the winter. Art is well, the birds are well and I should have got riding this evening, but ran out of steam. We did watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which was wonderful, but we did not see the end as we gave up after Finland!!!

The weather has been glorious, hot, sunny, Karis has been doing stoops to die for, and all the birds have been managing well.  I will put in some pictures but my camera is in the weighing room and I am blowed if I am going down there to get it at this time of night!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012
The sun is out, it is warm, actually its hot!!! I suspect every farmer has cut their fields for hay, we have had the overflow car park cut for hay, so now we are all praying that the weather holds long enough to turn it, bale it and bring it in dry!! That would be wonderful and save me a fortune buying in hay. We are going to help Mark in return for doing it for us – I have kindly volunteered the staff for bale hauling!! Art is going really really well, he and I seem to be beginning to understand each other, of course he goes much better for Jules, but we are getting there.

We have grounded Fer de Lance (White-tailed Sea-eagle) she needed a break anyway, and after her sojourn in the field, she was less interested in work! My Tawny Eagle is coming on and Mark has just got his out to start work, plus we have the new Grey Buzzard Eagle that Holly is training, and John is going to start with Pioneer again, ready for the winter and for the Falconry Weekend.

Ara the baby Lesser Kestrel is doing very well, and my baby sparrowhawk jumped to the fist twice yesterday!!! And he is not even full grown. So all the birds are doing well, and as for Karis, well the stoops on the last three days have been staggering, at least I am told they are, I did not see them!!!

My brother Nick is here from New Zealand and has been chopping things down, I would say pruning, but it is rather more aggressive than that, but he is doing an amazing job. The Bay hedge is down to manageable size now, and we can see through all the windows on the road side of the house! It was getting a little silly and very dark inside.  Of course the downside is that we are finding that a number of the windows have rotten sills, and some need replacing, however after this year, that may have to wait for a while – a long while I suspect!

Natasha is back from her work experience with Nick Fox, and is helping with various birds, Michele takes first Ara home one night and then Lyra the next night!! Her mother skypes with Lyra!!! You might get the impression that this is a mad house and you could just possibly be right.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I do sometimes wonder about companies and their websites. I am staggered at how difficult it very often is to find contact details on so many sites. The first thing I look for is a land address as I like to know who I am dealing with and where they are because particularly for large items it makes a difference in postage. I also like to know that I have a real place that I can get at if there are problems. I also want a phone number, there is a contact button on every page of my website and you would think that large companies would do the same. I have just tried to find an address for Joules – a clothing company that goes to shows, or this year does not go to shows as most have been cancelled, could I find their damned address nope. A ton of stores, including four in London, but no office address – very poor I reckon. I also intensely dislike those forms for emails, I would much rather just have an email address to write to the company. Its all very frustrating I find, and when I can’t find this stuff I don’t use that company!

We have had an exhausting few days, at 11.30am on Saturday we flew the White-tailed Sea-eagle, and things did not go according to plan! She was the first bird of the day and usually when something goes wrong, you can almost guarantee that things will continue to not work as one might like. I rushed down and flew Bohemia the Saker. Now I have never seen an eagle chase a falcon with any degree of persistence, and that is why we fly them as we consider that they would be safe. Well apparently our White-tailed Sea-eagle does not fit the normal plan!! She took off and seriously chased Bohemia who was not impressed and flew faster and further than we have even seen her do before!!! So we picked her up from the field next door where she was sitting waiting for us and very pleased to see Holly she was too!! We then flew a baby owl, whom she ignored completely, I then flew a kite and she chased that, but again did not get near. The following demonstration she was out of the field and so we started with Hare, well at every damn demonstration when she was out of the field, she rolled up smack on flying time with unerring accuracy!! Hare flew well until she sailed interestedly (not chasing him!) over his head at which point he went into a tree and refused to move, she then landed in the same tree. Hare was not impressed and at one point he stomped over on the branch above with his hackles up, but then sensibly having seem how big she is he changed his mind!

So now we have two eagles up in a tree, so we flew a Lanner, who went well and neither eagle moved, then I flew a Harris Hawk. Now Hare has never been interested in any other bird, but this time he took off and aimed straight for Bay Middleton (who did not notice!) I threw out a lure hoping Hare would come down, but instead the Harris Hawk grabbed it. Hare then few down to get the lure as well and I hide the Harris with me in between Hare and Bay Middleton and Simon waved a delicious rat at Hare who said thank you and came in. So now we have only one Eagle in a tree and I stupidly put the Harris up again, off flew the eagle, off flew the Harris and at one point the Harris was chasing the eagle!! Both sat in trees by the top pond. So I went down and eventually called Bay Middleton down. We flew a kites who again got chased and then finally decided to only fly indoors from then on!

The eagle flew around every now and then, never leaving the Centre, sitting on about every conceivable perch, the house, the hawk walk, the barns, various trees, the chimney pots, the stand off barriers, Simon’s flat, you name it, she was there. She always looked as if she might come down, but would not. Sunday, more of the same, John came in early every day, but no joy. All demonstrations inside, which is hard work and many of the birds not flown, none of the birds could go out for a bath on the lawns, all grills were kept down, and life was tricky. Same again on Monday, she was getting keener, but still not ready to come in. We were getting very tired of her at this point although she was doing some fantastic flying and at one point she caught a thermal and was probably over 100 feet up and three miles away – she looked very small! We thought that we would be wandering around Gloucestershire looking for her, but within an hour she was back again!! Right on flying time!!

Tuesday dawned fair, I had a riding lesson early, Art while trotting up the lane shied violently to one side at a particularly dangerous stinging nettle and dumped me in the lane, it was a second between being on the horse and sitting in the nettles looking up at the horse!!!. To be fair he stayed put and just looked at me. I climbed back on and had a great lesson because I was so pissed off with him that he went like a dream!! Needless to say later than day he lost another bloody shoe!! In the meantime the eagle was still having fun around the Centre, but finally at about 2.30pm she can in for food to Holly. A huge sigh of relief was made by all and we did our first outside demonstration to end the day.

I was at a Hawk and Owl Trust meeting for almost the whole day in Charlie's Room, so I missed the excitement of her coming in, but that was fine, she was home!

I am very tired and somewhat stiff right now!!
Friday, 13 July 2012

 I am informed that the Jet Stream is moving, well hoobloodyray, about time, maybe the weather will improve which would be lovely. The Falconer’s Fair has been cancelled for the second time, the CLA Game Fair has been cancelled, Gatcombe Horse Trials has been cancelled and the fun day at Quedgely (OK not a hugely significant event like the others, but we were flying there!!) has been cancelled also for the second time, all because of the weather.

Is it affecting us, oh yes of course it is, although I have to say that I think that people are now so fed up with the weather forecast that they are just saying ‘sod it’ and going out anyway. We have had rain I am told for every day for the last 35 days!! However we soldier on, the birds are flying as well as they can considering that they have no consistency because of the weather. The two new Yellow-billed Kites called 51 and 52 until they earn their real names are doing really well. My Lesser Kestrel is a joy, she or he is charm personified, you must come and see her!! Lyra is well and starting to do demonstrations, Shanny and Discovery (along with Adam and Natasha) are on their way back from a film job the other side of London, which I hope has gone well, it should have done as both birds knew what they had to do and were well rehearsed. I have a 20 day old male Sparrowhawk who is going to be my hunting bird for this coming winter if all goes well, and we have two Red-footed Falcons as well, with two more to come to go to Duncombe with Anabelle and Charlie.

With living creatures there is always a big upside and a huge downside. Our beautiful and much needed baby male Tawny Eagle (only one was a male and I was so pleased to have him) has died. We are awaiting the gross PM result, but its such a shame because of all the birds it was a male Indian Tawny Eagle I probably wanted the most. His big sister, the female in the first clutch is well and coming on in her training and his clutch sister is going to start training next week. Holly's Grey Buzzard Eagle is doing well too, and hooding like a dream. The young Hobby that came in last year is being trained for release, it looks a little odd as it has a Jackdaw's tail!

Hemp has been moved to Mozart’s aviary, she looks well and happy in there, but even though I love her dearly, it is not the same. I have not been able to carve Mozart’s headstone yet, either too tired at the end of the day, or bloody raining!!

Art has been going really well, Natasha and I went up yesterday in the pouring rain and raked the school we use so the corners were level, and today Jules and I put up the letters required for a dressage arena, tomorrow we have a workout with him and hopefully he will appreciate the more level school and the letters to guide us!!

We have an unexpectedly quiet weekend ahead, with all the cancellations of shows, so come and see us, we will have time to sit and have a chat – maybe!!!
Saturday, 7 July 2012

It has not been a great week, I have to say, the weather has been great on one day and crap for most of the rest of them. Yesterday was very wet, although we have been very lucky in comparison to others, at least any flooding here is usually containable. Mine you if I had a house that was liable to flooding I think I would change the design of the inside and get rid of all carpets, have waterproof floors and rugs and electrics up high, particularly if I had flooded more than once.

On Tuesday I had a delicious colonoscopy, the day before was dire as usual but the colonoscopy was also not much fun. I looked at the notes afterwards and on the discomfort note it said mild!!!! Not from where I was feeling it is was not, it was a close call that they did not have to scrape me off the ceiling and the pain killer was particularly ineffective!!! I needed much more!

But Wednesday was the worst day, the weather was ironically a nice day, but Mozart had to be put down and that was like a cloud of doom for most of the week after I had taken the decision.

Thursday the weather was lovely, first thing I dug the grave for Mozart and everyone helped. The dogs tried to help, but as usual were rather more of a hindrance, Leaf did not help by getting into the grave while we will trying to fill it in! We put him at the very end of the lower middle lawn as close to his aviary as possible, the other lawn would actually have been where he had lived when tethered all those years ago, but we thought he would prefer to be by his aviary. Interestingly as we dug we hit sand which means we were digging where the original compartments for the falcons were before we enlarged the Hawk Walk. He has a stone over his grave and it will be carved with his name when we have a dry enough period to do it.

On a better note the Lesser Kestrel is now charming and not trying to foot everyone who puts a hand near, she is wearing jesses and will soon be old enough to live outside during the day on a perch. Holly has the young Grey Buzzard Eagle out – she is feeding on the perch already and I guess Holly will start picking her up next week, it will exciting as we have never trained a completely new juvenile one of this species. Come to think of it I have never trained a Lesser Kestrel chick either!

The new website for The Falconry Weekend is complete and up – will get you there and I think it all works well, I really like Joomla it is fun to use and relatively easy and you don’t have to worry about all that awful html stuff!!!

My washing machine has recovered slightly, but I suspect is probably going to die again in the not too distant future, probably at a vital time.

Other than that it is the weekend, the weather is holding just about and I am praying the jet stream will move very soon!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Mozart died this best friend.................................the end of an era

A young Mozart
Mozart in the snow

July 4th 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

We had a lovely weekend, weather wise and customer wise, they were really nice and very appreciative, which makes for a much easier and more fun demonstration. Last week we seemed to have one good day for audiences and then one bad one where they did not show any signs of enjoyment!! I am sure they did have a good time, but it certainly was hard to tell!.

We have just had a nice surprise, the Long-eared Owls have a chick!! It was very unexpected as we had had infertile eggs for a couple of years, but this year they have done it, and there is an approximately 10 day old Long-eared Owl baby with them. Only one, but they have done a great job and it bodes well for next year, we are delighted and it gives us a new species bred here as well.

The weather now is rubbish, grey and raining, not good for Wimbledon sadly, and not good for us either, I had hoped that July would bring better weather.

Eager as a young Long Eared Owl
The two baby Yellow-billed Kites are coming on, they are sitting on the fist and taking food, the young Tawny Eagle female is starting to fly A frame to A frame with more confidence, although she needs to come down a little in weight I think. She is hooding now, she doesn’t like it much but is taking it fairly well. Holly will start with the young Grey Buzzard Eagle soon, Chris has taken his and it will be interesting to see how they do. We are still amazed that the pair have gone down on eggs again having fully reared the first clutch.

The merlins are doing well, and the second clutch due to hatch soon and we also have baby Snowy Owls under mum right now.

Adam and I will be starting on Charlie’s website in the next month, there is no hurry as the Centre in Duncombe will not be open for at least three months I suspect. The website will be a part of our new one to start with, and then we will see where to go after a couple of years, when I suspect the new website will need an overhaul anyway.

Dawn Run on Photo day
I think my washing machine is dying, it is not behaving as it should and I suspect it is not going to be with us for much longer. Still it has had a tough life with dog beds, my stuff and bird towels as well!!

The gardens are looking wonderful at the moment, this damp weather is meaning that everything is growing really well after the very dry year we had last year. Of course that also means that the weeds are growing well and as for the grass, well I think we may be able to make hay out of the overflow car park!!! That is if ever we get hay making weather.


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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