Monday, 25 March 2013

I am so fed up and pissed off I probably should not write this now. Late last year an email came through about a local grant. Now I have never applied for a grant before and I suspect I never will again!! The people organising it came out and were great and advised us on what to do, and to be fair they have been wonderful all the way through. With help from David and Sally we did the application and got Robin to do the bits that I knew would make me throw the paperwork in the fire.

We then applied for planning permission to replace our very old 8 foot wide by 18 foot long shed, that we have used for decades as a hospital room. It is a horrid room, it used to house a huge generator when we moved here. The place is very dilapidated and will eventually fall down and be a health hazard to the staff probably, the tiles on the side are falling off now, it is far too small and not suitable any long for taking the injured wild birds that we take in (free gratis and for nothing with a substantial cost to us).

So it was with enormous joy that we heard that if we could get everything going and finish the building by June, we had a high chance of getting a £20K grant, that was a huge lift to all the staff here, particularly after such a shitty year that we had just finished. We were all very excited about it.

But things were not going to be that easy, oh no. Now bear in mind that I am a conservationist but a realistic one, keep that in mind! We have planted a wood, which will probably all die in the next ten years because of Ash dieback. We have built a large pond, we manage the 12 acres for wildlife as well as being a public facility. We have more small birds living here than any of the surrounding land, but unfortunately and I never thought I would say that, but I do mean it now, we have bats as well. I had intended to help them and put up bat boxes around the place, however that is not going to happen now, not a chance in hell. I can see why Charlie feels the same. We had both thought about putting bat boxes on the barns for them, here and in Yorkshire but if we did and then we needed to do something to the barn we would not be allowed to, so no bat boxes for us I am afraid. This sort of legislation is completely counterproductive to conserving and helping bats, in fact I would say it does the opposite.

After we had applied for the planning permission, we were hit with the fact that we had to have a bat survey - £480.00. The chap was very nice, very efficient, but sadly found about 10 bat droppings in three places. Well now the shit as it were has hit the fan. I have to have more surveys – see the price going up!!! I may have to have DNA done on the bat droppings (£125.00). If they are Pipistrelle bats, which the expert considers they are, there are 2 million of them in the UK,  it is found in Europe, South Africa and South West Asia and its conservation status is least concern, which means there is not a problem with the damn thing!


This roof, which we are not permanently removing, but just taking down and replacing had no winter bats, so it is most likely a summer roost. The building that we will put up will have a larger roof, it is attached and yes I do mean attached to another identical roof, so if by chance we upset a bat, it can move 8 feet to another part of the damn roof. I am very happy to put up whatever bat mitigation is required, special tiles etc. etc. If we had done the building in April it would have been finished before the bloody things wanted to roost anyway. We may lose the grant, we have had to pull the planning application so when it goes in again it will be another six weeks, after the next survey which has to be done in May. The effect on the bats would have been negligible in April, however I doubt we will start, if we even get the grant and are able to, before July. We have had three buzzards, two sparrowhawks, one barn owl, one goshawk and a Kestrel in during the last two weeks and we are absolutely stretched with them all, so I have to say that there goes any affection I might have had for bats, or any assistance I might have given them in the future.


And want to know the best bit, technically you are not allowed to apply for a bat license to disturb the little dears until you have planning permission to do whatever it is you want to do, but you won’t get planning permission without the licence. What fucking moron worked that one out!!!!!


Then Charlie’s bank in Yorkshire has told Charlie that my credit rating is not good because when I moved my bank account over to Lloyds, (where we have paid in our funds since 1967) I did not give them identification to prove I am whom I say I am!!! I have only known some of the people down there for over 4 decades!!! However I am obviously a dangerous risk to the world and am trying to launder money. Believe me if I had any it would not be going into the bank!!!! So I had to take my driving licence and a utilities bill down, but I took one that was too old – it has to be in the last three months. So as you can see, life has been frustrating.


However Carl Jones’s has a pair of condors and they have laid, last year they broke their egg, so this year, he decided not to risk the first egg and brought it here. It is huge!! We are incubating it and hoping that all will go well and it will hatch. That will be great stuff and good experience for Holly. The Stellers managed to hatch one chick by themselves, sadly they lost the other egg, but they are rearing their own baby plus a Bald Eagle for a friend. The Palmnut vultures have laid an egg, so fingers crossed for that one.


Just to put the cap on things the weather is bitterly cold and we have snow on the ground and it does not look like it is going to change for Easter which is particularly scary financially I have to say. I did win £5.10 on the lottery last week, but that is not going to help a great deal.
Sunday, 10 March 2013
There are people in life who are doer’s and people in life who talk about it. I am without doubt a doer, I get things done, I don’t wait around for others to do it, because I don’t have the time or the patience. I would rather get going when whatever needs doing and get it started, and then see what happens, than wait around for someone else to get going!!! I am also a finisher, I am better at the final touches of whatever the task, usually in finishing, a physical one, I see things that others don’t see.
So it pisses me off sometimes when people don’t see what we are about.
Consequently I just want to give you an idea of what we cope with in a day……………………..  after feeding the dogs and taking them round the field, always my first job of the day, feeding the horse was a part of that until he went to his new home.  I start on emails, bloody hundreds of the damn things, well OK probably not hundreds, but certainly over 50 per day, many of which are crap (do I really want Viagra – no, nor do I want anything to do with a man who wants the stuff – they need to learn that hours of what they consider to be fun, is way over the top for any sensible female, who is only thinking to themselves, for God’s sake get on with it!) but I don’t have a spam filter because otherwise on occasion I lose stuff that is important.
Today, just around 9.00am Holly comes up to the window during her feed round, because as usual I have forgotten to put my radio on, and asks me to come out as we have a problem with a Ural Owl, so after looking at the owl and giving it some treatment, I decide that he probably needs to see Neil Forbes (oh great – a Sunday, so the cost will not be insignificant!), but you can’t count the cost, it is a bird whose life is reliant on you. So I phone him, explain the details and thank goodness he is working on a Sunday, and so John bless him, grabs a box, I start the van, and off he goes to Swindon which on a good day is an hour’s drive, with the now fitting owl.
This means that we are down to two staff only, with thank goodness a great volunteer in the form of Katy, but that is it!! Its bitterly cold and I do mean bitterly, and we have three people on a half day experience, plus we are open and it’s a Sunday. So, things are a little tight. The emails will have to wait, the five year plan for the vulture breeding Centre in Nepal will have to wait, as will the book, the five year plan for ICBP and a few other things pending as well.
Katy finishes off the jobs John was doing with baths. Holly finishes feeding round, I get the food ready for the birds on an experience day. I am friendly and polite to the people on the day. In the meantime Sally who has put in a lot of effort in the new photography competition emails me to say that people are complaining that they have to pay £5.00 to enter  for three photos– although if they win they could get an exclusive day here one on one with birds and my staff – not an insignificant prize I think to myself. Plus it takes our time and effort to look at the photos and judge the competition – are we supposed to do it for free!! No, and any funds we get go towards the work we do, surely visitors who are regulars know that! Luckily Holly answered the Facebook stuff as I suspect I might not have been so tactful!
I then go up to the shop to bring the people down for the experience half day, plus their partners and as there are only three of them and it is seriously cold in the flying field with a freezing north easterly wind racing up the field, I am kind and let the three partners come into the weighing room as I kit the experience day people with gloves and instruction.
Holly gets the first bird ready, we do the initial flying in the field, and then end up with Lunar in the indoor Hawk Walk before going down to coffee, which by this time is very welcome, we warm up, and we then have 15 minutes to sort out the flying demonstration, Holly gets the people sorted out with a couple of birds inside while I get food ready for four birds on the demo. We run the demo, Katy looks after the people on the experience day. All goes well, in fact with this wind the birds are first class although the customers are frozen!!!
Holly and Katy finish off the experience morning, I manage to do a little to the five year Nepal plan, John phones to say he is on his way back leaving the owl at Neil’s, but it is still with us and OK at this point. I then go down to the café and help with the washing up before having a bit of lunch, and finish just in time for the next demonstration! It’s still freezing, perhaps more so now, but we have intrepid customers and the people on the half day have stayed to watch the flying. It’s still a bitter wind, but the birds are brilliant, the wind is perfect for most of them although there are a few rather untidy landings.
After the demo, one of our wonderful life members has again sponsored Pinotage, so John takes him and the vulture into the weighing room for a photo, I fly the peregrine off demo. After than John and Holly get various birds flown, I do a little more in the office to the five year plan, then I fly Kalyke who is one of the six flyers going up to Yorkshire on Tuesday morning, and blow me it’s time for the last demo!! And guess what it is still freezing – and trying to snow. We finish the demo, and close up the doors of the birds in the Hawk Walk so they can benefit from the heaters. The PA is turned off, the loos are closed as the last customer has headed for home. The babies food and Eve the sick eagle’s food is prepared, the workshop locked. Holly finishes feeding the owls, John moves the injured wild goshawk into a new clean box and in the freezing cold cleans the dirty box. Katy tidies the weighing room, and then John and Holly switch the Ural Owl eggs for dummies in case she deserts them with her husband not there. Oh and in the meantime they bravely check the Steller’s who has one chick and two more eggs!! And nearly broke the special camara!
Then the phone rings and there is an injured wild bird of prey in Newent, so while Holly treats the last bird on the list of birds that need treatment, there is always one in a collection like this, John and I drive down betting it is a female sparrowhawk – wrong it is a beautiful adult male, and when we get home and check it over it has a badly broken wing – right by the joint, so its chances are very slim. But we will take it to Neil when we collect the Ural Owl tomorrow, who hopefully is on the mend. In the meantime, Holly and John check eggs and feed the baby owl that is three days old and by this time, it’s about time to finish!!! Except that I have emails to do, John and Katy have to drive home and Holly has to finish the paperwork for the birds going up to Duncombe on Tuesday.
We all between us, Jan included, finish a bottle of wine, I go in and light the fire, the wind howls through the house, the dogs are now settled. I will tackle the five year plan again and we look forward to another day!!!
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Good God, no wonder I get nothing done these days, I am sending about 35 emails per day, sometimes I really hate email, there is no way I ever had to write 35 letters every day! It’s ridiculous!! I have been trying to get onto a website to look at vans they have for sale. Manheim have auctions near Gloucester every week, however their website is dreadful and to get onto the site and see the vehicles is apparently impossible, I have tried about four times and have now given up. For God’s sake you idiots if you want to sell cars let people onto your site – how stupid can you get!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And that should not happen on your birthday either!!!!
We had the most glorious day yesterday, sunny, warm, just perfect, today is a little bit of a letdown, but at least it did not rain worth talking about. As long as it stays dry I am going to be happy. We all just need dry weather for the ground to recover.
We, well actually I, have been building nests, I have to say they are rather good. I have been worried about using Leylandii for some time, its horrid stuff, and we had some problems with a chick earlier on, which I am glad to say is fine now. So I decided that we would go back to building nests for all the birds that need them. We put one in with Athena and she laid in it two days later!!! With a nest you know the egg is safe and can’t roll around and so the risk of them breaking is less. I have two big ones and three smaller ones to do, its amazing how many twigs it takes to make them. You also really realise just how amazing birds are, I have two hands, sticks brought to me by the staff, and two pairs of cutters, they have a beak!!!
I had a lovely birthday breakfast, bagels and cream cheese and smoked salmon at coffee time – far better than a cake!! I did give myself a break from the nest building and I am not exactly sure what I achieved today, but I am sure I managed something!! I rarely do nothing.
My sister Anna gave me some more, plants tokens so with those and the Christmas ones I am going to go on a shopping frenzy!!! For plants soon, I love buying plants, it’s so much fun, although planting them is fractionally less fun! But the end results are great. I had planned to go today, but failed dismally.
I can nearly run again, well trot slowly might be a better description and not for long, but I will get there, not planning a marathon, but running is something I like to do if I can. If only I could get my socks on more easily life would be less of a stretch!!
The daffs are on their way up again, and I expect to see a yellow head or two soon, which will be so nice, I am fed up with cold now, I want to have spring!!
Have just been out to supper, I drove my little van, but I have to say that having looked on ebay, I really really want to get an old morris shooting brake!!! There is one at a reasonably price and I am sooooooooooo tempted !!! They are just such simple cars, and with so little to go wrong. The trouble with new cars is that they are so complicated that they cost a fortune to fix. The old ones are really cool, and there is no tax either!!! Oh well, I guess I had better be circumspect – damn it!!
Hemp now has three eggs and we have the only Savigny's egg hatching as I write, that will be very good as my best owl was a Savigny's called Papyrus, who was wonderful. I hope this is a male!!


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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