Saturday, 28 September 2013
Well ,back from India and Nepal, it was an exhausting trip, but very worthwhile and we got a tremendous amount done, I have finished my reports and now have to get mentally organised (and physically as I have to give a paper) for the next trip, a big international conference in Argentina.


While at the train station in Delhi as usual at least three people tried to tell us that the train was not running, had gone, was nine hours delayed and that we  were on the wrong platform. It is infuriating and makes me very angry when it happens. We told them in no uncertain terms that we did not believe them!


We stayed at the Budgerigar Hotel and as usual the shower was dubious to say the least. In fact only in the place we stayed in where the shower not only working i.e. had water coming out of it, but was also warm, was the hotel in Nepal - What a pleasure.


In the twelve days that we were away we took nine different flights, one train journey, and travelled about 11,300 miles by air, train, car and foot. We had four meetings,  in five mornings with the teams, we caught up and vetted, took blood, micro chipped and ringed where needed 169 vultures, in five afternoons we helped out with analysing blood. We went to Bhopal, which I have never been to before, I think all the people in the city will be deaf soon as there was a festival and I have never heard such loud music. We had breakfast twice, and ate meals after 9.00pm three times. The budgerigar had no gin and I ate no dhal!!


We had a very nice India Rhino come to the VCBC in Nepal and watched the fruit bats in Pinjore leaving for their evening forays. We saw Black Kites although more often in towns than in the countryside and a Black Shouldered Kite, but that was it, although we did see a couple of my favourite non raptor birds, the Tree Pie! I wish I knew someone who bred them in Europe.


I got home late on Friday night and great it was to be home. The dogs were pleased to see me and Holly and Ben had been staying in the house.


In the next four days I managed to be flying various bird, three of which buggered off. First Yeates went, which he has done before, but he had not been behaving while I was away, and he continued the theme, so finally I gave up on him after eight months trying to get him fit and flying well, the time came to say OK, I need to focus on birds that will respond and get fit. Then Mark’s Lugger did a disappearing act while I was flying him, he will be very good, but you could see he was going to go, and he only went a few field before Jimmi and Mark got him back. Last Mark’s Barbary went, again when I was flying him, which I have often done. However He decided to be proper Barbary and went bloody miles, he left at 11.30, we finally caught up with him and to be fair he came straight in, near Westbury on Severn!!


I am glad to say that since then they mostly have been behaving. And we are flying Mark’s birds because he is working on the Hospital. It is coming on nicely, a little behind schedule because the towers that were ordered did not arrive until four days after the due delivery date and also it rained, however it now has walls, the purlins and rafters are up and it is looking good!


The autumn is here, the weather has been kind since I got back, dry and warm mainly with little rain, which is good because the front lawn has been dug up to lose the subsoil from the ground works of the hospital, so the lawn is changing shape again!
Monday, 23 September 2013
Meant to put this on on Sept 9th before I left for India - forgot!! Sorry!!
It’s raining, but my garden badly needs it and the pond could do with a top up right now. I am almost ready to got off to India this afternoon. Nic Masters Chief Veterinary Surgeon at ZSL are meeting up at Heathrow and flying to India and then on to Nepal later on the trip. We have a ton of things to do and my luggage is full of stuff that I will not be able to take as hand luggage so I have to check it in, I have not done that for many years. Prefer only to travel light.
The smallest Steppe Eagle is huge!!! He weighs a ton, but will soon start to get to a less unacceptable weight, he is doing well and was out on the lawn for the first time the day before yesterday. Muckle Roe is back on duty and doing well, she had three proper catches yesterday, just needs to learn to feed on the wing now and it will be a done deal. Chris has incredibly kindly given us her sister as well, so we plan on flying the two together once they are both ready for it. Our other kites are going well too. Most of the falcons are now flying free and coming on. Yeates is going to stay working through the winter so we can work on his fitness which is still a long way from good, mind you he would get fitter if he stopped sitting down!
The dogs are well except that Briza is lame and it has been difficult to get her to rest, so she is going to stay with Penny, her breeder while I am away, I hope she is going to be OK, but it will be very good for her.
The hospital is going on nicely, it is starting to look like a real project now and today the telegraph pole is being moved as it is in the way! The power guys have been great about it all. Abby our really good work experience is going to stay for another three months which we are really pleased about, it really helps in times when staff need to go on holiday.
Agatha, our Canadian Golden Eagle is going to a friend when I get back, she is just not suitable for a public aviary bird and will be much happier being trained and flown, she is a really nice bird, but too nervous for here and it is not fair on her. We have a new very settled female coming this week to go with the male. Watamu is slowly coming back to settling here, he is more nervous than he was and does not like the dogs, I guess because he has not seen them for three years, but we did a training session in the field on the last demo yesterday and he was getting there. A friend of mine has a daughter getting married in Watamu this year and now we know it is pronounced WaTAmu!
Other than that I am looking forward to being in India and Nepal although I hate the travel and I am looking forward to being home again!
Sunday, 8 September 2013

Well we are all exhausted, but the Falconry Weekend was a great success. The weather has been amazing for the last week, my staff and volunteers have been working so hard, we just could not have done it without all of them. They all are a stunning group of people. As I write Burgoyne’s has finally removed the last tents and left the field, Brinsea who still had their stand in the field has gone, the rubbish has gone, the PA system gone back, and only the electrics which have been neutralized has to be got in and we are back to normal. All the people doing the flying did brilliantly and the comments on Facebook are in their hundreds and all positive. It was as in the last two years, a wonderful atmosphere.


It has been a tough time though, after Rush died, our young Snowy Owl had to be taken into Great Western Exotics to see Neil, at the same time we had to take Alexandria, an 11 year old African Peregrine, and Pleiades my beautiful Indian Tawny Eagle whom we bred last year. The Snowy Owl, called Lindisfarne  turned out to have cerebral malaria, two weeks of intensive treatment, including one of the doses of antibiotics at 4 am one morning and we thought we were getting there, but he slipped back and even after a blood transfusion from his mum did not save him. Although young, we are going to bury him in the field. We lost the other two as well. Alexandria had an inoperable tumour and Pleiades had the same kidney problem that all the young seemed to have and was in great pain, so it was not fair to go on with her. They are buried together. Its so hard to lose these birds who are such a huge part of our lives.


All the other birds have been going on nicely. The four baby Yellow-billed Kites are all catching now and just all have to learn to eat on the wing and stay flying and they will be a stunning team.


Holly’s merlin Jura is going to be a good one, flying very well, the three young Lanners are now flying free, we have two young Luggers who are more of a challenge, but then Luggers always are. Mark’s Barbary is going really well and flying more and more strongly. Even Yeates, the five year old African Peregrine that I have been struggling with for months is now beginning to fly more strongly.


We had a big grounding of birds on Monday, the Falconry Weekend was over, the end of the school holidays was done and we need to concentrate on the young team, so four Lanners, two Harris Hawks, one Buzzard, two Eagles, three Kites and several Owls are now stuffing their faces and either in aviaries or about to go into one. Thus the young teams of birds take centre stage and improve more quickly as time goes on. We have kept the smallest young Steppe Eagle, I hope it will be a replacement for Pleiades, although I have my doubts, but you never know.


Indigo scared us all to death on Sunday, he was looking very old and ill and started to shake, so Holly and Ben bundled him into the van and took him to Ledbury to the vet. He stayed all day and was scanned, he had been eating far too much and his elderly tummy could not manage. He did worry us though and I was very upset as I could not bear to lose a second dog in such a short space of time, but he is much better now, and almost back to his usual self. Since Rush died he has slept on my bed and Holly has promised that he can sleep with her and Ben while I am away in India!


Muckle Roe, my beautiful Red Kite gave us a fright on Monday, she had one eye closed during the day, by the evening, her face was swollen on one side and tilted, she then threw up and so we decided to take her to GWE straight away, Tom was on duty and did an excellent job and we waited for her to recover from the anesthetic before I drove home and got back at 10.00 pm. I missed a good Chinese with Biff, so Holly and Ben had it!! Muckle Roe looked far worse the following morning, but at nearly 10.00pm 24 hours later she was looking more cheerful. She came running out of the sky kennel (bearing in mind we are rebuilding the hospital right now and so have birds littered everywhere!!!) ate some finely chopped food and then turned round and ambled all by herself back into her box!! Bless her! Today she is back on flying duty and did three excellent catches in mid air.


A new book about father written by Dick Fitzgerald was launched at the Falconry Weekend as was a reprint of a beautiful book by George Edward Lodge. I have a copy of each. And the Philip Glasier Falconry Museum concept was also launched.

It has been a busy time


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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