Sunday, 28 October 2012
Well I am back home again, and wonderful it is too. The trip back was a little fraught as there was fog at Heathrow so I was late back, but it was good to get home. Robin collected me. I was home for about three days and then went to London yesterday to see War Horse the play. Miranda Richardson took me, it was the 5th anniversary and we met the author who was absolutely charming. The play was quite wonderful, and the party afterwards was fun, although I know there were a ton of famous people there and I did not recognise anyone!! I felt like a very country person, but that is fine. It was bitterly cold yesterday, but beautifully clear and sunny, having had days of grey misty tepid weather it changed on Friday, and we have finally been busy, but chilly. I have ridden Art who has recovered from his lameness and was very good today, I have almost caught up with things, I have two meetings in London next week and then off to Nepal again. We did our first owl evening last night, Richard has put some lovely lighting in the Indoor Hawk Walk, so instead of using the iZone for the first part of the flying we moved to there and with low level lighting and a much kinder room in terms of space, it worked really well and all the owls, both inside and out did brilliantly.
I think I was homesick in Spain!! How about that for being stupid, I should add that when writing this bit I was not at home, but abroad again, however the more I leave home for various trips, and I was on my third one in less than a month right now, with another one to come, the more I realise how much I love my home and don’t really enjoy leaving it. Of course I am lucky enough have a lovely (if cold!) house, full of things that I have collected together over a lifetime, and I have six (at the moment) wonderful dogs who keep me sane and give me pretty much all the company I could need – bearing in mind that I see people on a daily basis all bar about either days of the year over Christmas. I also have an amazing staff who are almost family, and not forgetting the birds who form the core of all our lives at the Centre.
To be fair, I went to Spain with a seriously nasty cough and cold and managed to get sicker while I was there. (Still have the damn cough now) I don’t think I was the best of company, which made me feel guilty, and the group picture taken at the end of the workshop shows me looking remarkably pale I suspect, having just thrown up for the third time!  Annoyingly too, I guess through being not well and over tired, I took my camera and left the damn card in my desk top computer at home, so I got no photos, and I left behind a couple of bits of paper that I needed, and did not check my external hard drive for all the photos either, none of which is like me, I am usually pretty anal about getting ready. Mind you, if I have to catch that damn 4.00am bus  to Heathrow again this year I will be decidedly pissed off about it. I don’t think I have been as tired as I was when we finally got to Baeza, which was at about 9.00pm, so from 3.00am to then and not feeling well made for a very very long day. I am also too old and set in my ways to eat a meal at 9.30pm!!  That is only half an hour before my bedtime normally!!! And that is what I did instead of going out for supper!
The workshop was interesting and it was very good to see some of the papers of release programmes from around Europe. It was good to see old friends again as well, and at the end of the workshop, Miguel took Ian Newton, Phil Whitfield and me to Donana National Park, which is amazing. It does not get dark over there until about 8.00pm which meant we had time to drive around a good area of the park in a Landrover. (my favourite car!) As we drove out we saw a pale phased Booted Eagle soaring above us, then we saw a Black Shouldered Kite, they really are just beautiful birds, I could not believe that we saw flamingos! Red Kites were pretty numerous as well, although sadly Miguel did not manage to find the breeding pair of Imperial Eagles, but did show us a beautiful and ancient Cork Oak tree where they had nested in the past. 

I think too that I have never been adventurous about different types of food either, probably a cause of my upbringing and the fact that as a child, I am not sure there was anything much in the way of choice or different types of food. Mother much as we all loved her was not an adventurous cook (nor should I add am I! In fact cooking was a chore for mother and as I don’t have to look after any other human than myself I at least don’t have that problem!). Her idea of vegetarian food was a baked potato and frozen peas, God help any vegetarian that stayed more than one meal! These days vegetarians can get the most amazing things at restaurants, although I would warn that coming to me for a meal is a problem regardless of your eating preferences! Anyway the point of this digression is that going abroad means eating food that you are not used to, and some of my friends love it and will try anything and I am very seriously boring and really do not enjoy much of it! Which as my various friends tell me is silly because I am missing a great deal, but just happens to be the way I am. I do wonder if I would like food in China as I do enjoy Chinese food in the UK, but I suspect not as Indian food in the parts of India I go to is nothing like Indian food in the UK.
However I am now getting back to normal and looking forward to what is left of the autumn and all the staff being back in work again!
Monday, 8 October 2012

Well I have to admit to being somewhat exhausted, and not very well either. Got some miserable person’s cold on one of the many planes, which I am hoping to throw off before the next trip.

Simon and I left at an ungodly hour on September 23rd to catch the 4.00am bus to Heathrow, apart from the fact that the bus ground to a halt at the first roundabout getting off to Heathrow, which luckily our driver could sort out, the journey went well, we caught the plane to Bahrain which is a pretty small airport, and then after a four hour wait, got the plane to Delhi. Here things did not go as smoothly. We missed the taxi driver who was supposed to meet us, so took a prepaid taxi to the train station, there some idiot told us that our etickets where not valid and we had to go to the tourist office (at 5.20am!!) and get the right ones – he was lying. We went there which was a two minute drive for which we were charged more than the bloody 40 minute drive from the airport and were told by this very plausible man that the train was delayed by seven hours – he was also lying it turned out – and that the next two were fully booked and so the only way we could get to Pinjore was to fly or go by taxi – so we took a taxi which cost about £120, by which time I was seriously pissed off, but when you are in a foreign country you can never tell if you are being ripped off because you are foreign, or not. Well God help any one who tries that again because I will do the ripping and it will be a part of their anatomy that they are probably quite attached to.


Finally we arrived, having been travelling for over 24 hours, had a shower (a cold one as they never work in the hotel we go to) and went to the VCBC (Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre). We had a great look round, saw all the staff, renewed friendships and sorted out the running order of the course over the next day and a half.

The Incubation Workshop went very well, Simon, myself, Nikita and two of the staff at the Pinjore Centre all did some teaching. We had five people from India, two from Nepal and one from Pakistan, three were vets and three or four scientists so they were a pleasure to teach. As the workshop finished Richard Jones (avian specialist vet) and Chris Bowden arrived. We need to have enough over sea’s veterinary cover for the project to cope with an emergency, so having an extra specialist vet means if we have a problem we should be able to grab one of them to go out quickly. As only really Andrew Routh knows the project well it was good to get Richard out there so he met the people both in India and Nepal and saw two of the sites. We assisted in checking over 14 of this year’s young, and then took the train – with the same damn tickets I had had before – with no problems – back to Delhi. We got to our hotel by about 11.00pm although Richard had to have a beer to recover and get his adrenaline levels down enough from the drive! Unfortunately in the meantime the guy from Pakistan had got himself arrested because he had not had his visa stamped in Pinjore, and so Chris and I had to go and make sure he was OK.


Up at five, except that I read my phone wrong and got up at 4.00am instead (bugger) and back to the airport and off to Kathmandu, then a seven hour drive to do 120 miles over what felt like a very poor farm track most of the time!!  The hotel was good and the shower worked! We spent two days at the Nepal Vulture Centre in Chitwan National Park, the first day assessing the new aviary which is excellent, and talking to the staff about stuff, we also saw the most delightful baby Indian Rhino who had been attacked by a Tiger and survived, and a baby elephant and a not baby tiger that had had to be caught as it was a man-eater. I could have done without seeing the tiger, it was extremely scary.


We had been supposed to help catch up and vet 20 of the birds and had planned to leave the hotel at 5.00am and start before the day heated up. Unfortunately that did not pan out and we did not get there until 11.00 so after dealing with three vultures we had to stop because it was too hot.


We left for Kathmandu at 5.00am (which apparently is now my favourite time to get up!), I went to a meeting while Simon and Richard went to a market, and then we flew out at 9.00pm via Bahrain again. That was not without its excitement as the security men would not let Richard into the airport to start with because he did not have his eticket with him!!! However we managed in the end and it was really nice to be back home by 7.00am the following morning. Anabelle picked Simon and I up, Richard took the train, and we were home in time for coffee and a much welcome bacon sandwich!


The weather was glorious over the Friday Sat and Sun, and it is so nice to be home again even if today is pretty grey and miserable. Art managed to go lame while I was away, and is still recovering, so he never went off on his trip. The dogs are fine and were very pleased to see us. The birds are well and my eagle is just amazing she is flying so well. Next trip Yorkshire on Wed and back by train on Thursday and then Spain on Sunday for a conference.







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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