Sunday, 17 November 2013

The second Owl Evening went well although it was a little more tricky than usual as our electrics are playing up, and neither the underground lights, or the PA would work without blowing everything!! Rob Moore (electrician) is coming on Monday to change and add some RCD’s ( I know all about RCD’s – don’t you!) and hopefully the problem will be if not sorted, at least more manageable. We will do some restructuring early next year and make it all less fragile.

The new hospital room is looking great and we are starting to use it, there are still a few things to finish off but it’s a very useful room and will be a huge advantage to us. The first injured wild bird to go in is a Kestrel who looks like she will recover fine, which bodes well for the future.

It’s a bit grey and dismal at the moment, very overcast, but at least it is dry which helps. The gardens are really starting to benefit from Rob being here as a full time gardener and he has only been here two weeks, so in a couple of years it will look just wonderful. His lawn mower arrives on Wednesday, I will take photos as it is not an attractive machine, however if it does the job I don’t care what it looks like.

We have got the brooder room all sorted out with proper electrics and it’s been repainted, so there is just a good clean to get done and that will be ready. Next is the clean out of the incubator room and all incubators to be thoroughly cleaned, Holly wants to keep that all to herself!!

The outside of the new building is all level and gravelled over and looking good. We have to knock through the new door from the clinic to the hospital room – which we need to give a name too. That will make a big mess, but gives us the chance to have a good clear out and redecorate in there, one wall is damp and I think I know why so we will sort that out before painting. Then the whole block of rooms will be done and dusted – phew!! Just in time to go charitable and then build a new brooder room and incubation room so we can turn the old ones into a treatment room and small lab!

It’s a busy week next week, I have two meetings, one in Bristol, one in London and I am hoping to go and collect my (newish!) Range Rover from Jinny. There is however a doubt because we don’t know if Sorrel is in pup or not. She is large (but could be too fat!) is digging furiously (but she does that anyway) is very grumpy to the others at times (but she can be a grump). Penny Carpanini thinks she is, I am vacillating and generally the jury is out, and of course we don’t really know when they are due as she was mated over about an eight day period. I need to be here for her, so the car may have to wait, but I am hoping not as being in London for a meeting helps me to get most of the way to collecting. We shall see!! Here is hoping she is going to produce lots of lovely puppies.

We are also doing a film job here with the Great Grey Owl on Wednesday and we have a group of MSc students coming as well, plus still being open and an Owl Evening on Sat. It’s good to be busy!

We close on December 1st, but as that is a Sunday, if the weather is good we will be open, so watch the forecast and ring us to find out. We close for sure on the 2nd, apart from a couple of experience days and the owl evenings.

Oh and if you are looking for a good Christmas present, we are going to reinstate the Owl Experiences, but in a different way. We are going to do Half Owl Days, which will be great fun. We have a good team of owls now and will be able to have guests handle and fly a good number of them. We are looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Well, that is the last   my travels abroad for this year, and I have to say I am not sorry!! Ever since I got back to Newent, and understood finally what it was I had nearly lost, I am much happier at home than travelling.  I guess that makes me a sedentary bird, rather than a migratory bird!

The trip was good, although started off a little poorly, my train from Ledbury to Paddington was an hour and a half late, so my plans to meet Ian Newton and Rhys Green at the check in were scuppered. I have to say that BA did not get good points for their helpfulness at check in, so as well as being stressed because I was late, I was annoyed before even getting on the plane. However things improved then because as I had to check in alone, and so because they were over booked and I was travelling alone – I got upgraded!!

On arrival at Delhi  we got on a bus to the domestic terminal and eventually caught the plane to Bagdogra in West Bengal. Most of the trip from Bagdogra to Alipurduar was done in the dark, but it was on much better roads than we travelled last time I went there. The hotel was OK, there were 88 steps from my room to the meeting room which sadly was in the basement . As I am not keen on Indian food, that part of the trip I did not particularly enjoy. The meeting was good and we had good representation from several new countries that were within the vultures range. There were good papers and plenty of good discussion.   All in all I think the SAVE Meeting went well and we seemed to achieve a good amount of work and decisions.

On the first day there we went bird watching, sadly for me we saw mainly LBJ’s which pleased all the rest of the twitchers!!!! But I wanted to see more raptors – they were hiding!! We did however walk across a river bed with a little water (that was fun) and crossed into Butan for about two minutes – which we did because we could!! We went into the forest but did not see a great deal apart from some lovely trees, but some of us did manage to pick up leaches, I had one on each foot, and Toby was bleeding dramatically from his leg. Of course we had to make up for lost blood later on, Toby and Chris replaced it with beer and I worked on Gin and sweet lime soda (no tonic). I have to say that the gin left a great deal to be desired, but if you drowned it it was bearable.

The meeting was held in the basement of the hotel and after three days it got extremely depressing as by the time we had finished each afternoon, it was already dark. So we rarely even saw the daylight, let alone anything else. We did have one short trip to the Centre and on the way back one of the other cars saw an elephant, and some pied falconets, did I – NO!

The trip back was extremely long, we left the hotel at 7.00am, with a short stop for a cup of tea we got to Bagdogra by about 12.00 noon, our plane to Delhi left at 2.30pm and the flight back to London did not leave until 3.40am! The flight was uneventful apart from the fact that there were four squalling children in our compartment, roll on child free planes. However when we got to Heathrow things started to fall apart, it took ages to get off the damn plane because some idiot decided that it was nice to let his small child walk rather than carrying the damn thing. There was a huge queue at the immigration and then I got to the Heathrow Express with just enough time to get the 7.58 train, which would have got me to Paddington just in time, but it was cancelled, the next one finally left at 8.20 and my train at Paddington happily left at 8.22 without me. I bought a new ticket (the bill for which I intend to send to the Heathrow Express) and got on the next train to Gloucester, which was then delayed because the doors would not  lock. So until my trip back from Argentina which was great and seamless was not replicated on this one!!   It appears that all of us on that trip had the same problems and we all missed our trains!!

It is lovely lovely to be home, its quiet (Alipurduara was incredibly noisy at night) my bed is blissfully comfortable (the one in India was rock hard, which they all are), the gin is great and the dogs were really pleased to see me home again. The Hospital is nearly done, the new smart hospital boxes arrived today and very smart they are too, I can’t wait to get the whole thing finished!! It will make a huge difference to us all and the injured wild birds that come in.

Our new lawn mower is coming next week, I chickened out of collecting it and so have got it delivered, it is coming from Carters of Swanwick who I have to say have been wonderful so far in all they have done. I am looking forward to trying it out!!

My Hobby is flying really well, I am very excited about her, particularly as it has not been great weather, she is called Killigrey. I want to be able to get her flying strongly in case we do get very cold weather when I will have to stop flying and feed her up. But so far the  possible forecast worse winter for 100 years has not appeared, although admittedly it is early days.
Friday, 1 November 2013

Argentina was good, the food was great, much better than India that is for sure and I fell for the Chimango Caracara’s who are enchanting birds of prey. The trip there was pretty reasonable, no disasters which is always good, although it is a bloody long way that is for sure.


The conference was excellent, the World Working Group for Birds of Prey and Owls did not show up, which I have to say did not surprise me. Miguel was more tolerant about it than I would have been. However I will say no more, but I will think it! The Neo tropical Network were there and it was great to see them. The papers were excellent, the company very good, the wine first class and all in all it was a great success. Ruth and I had planned to go on three trips, we did two of them and they were very good, but tiring, and I am not a serious birder in comparison to many on the trips, who were very serious. There are only so many ducks I need to see before I get bored, now raptors, that is a different matter, but LBJ’s – hummmmmmmmmmm. We cancelled the last trip as we realised that with the trip and the travel, meaning that we would arrive back in Buenos Aires after midnight, this was not a good idea. So on the Sunday we went with friends to the airport to see if we could get an earlier flight. The whole trip back was amazing, we kept thinking that something would go wrong but it didn’t. We got on the 10.30 am flight, went to the hotel that Miguel had recommended and it was great, had a lovely lunch and a walk, rested for the rest of the day, got to the airport on time, got through immigration and security like a breeze, got on the plane home and got upgraded to business!!! Hooray, what a pleasure, thank you BA.


I got home at about 12,00 noon on Tuesday, in time to fly birds, have tea and see all the staff who were in. The hospital has come on a treat, it is looking really good on the outside and right now the plasterer is in and hopefully it will be completely plastered by the end of Sunday. The boxes should arrive soon as well.


We have to wait until the plaster is dry before we can paint and the tiles on the floor can’t be done until the painting is complete. I wish I was going to be here for it, it is very frustrating not to be.


The birds were all well, the dogs pleased to see me, and I hope the staff as well. It is lovely to be home. It has been a little damp towards the end of the week, but was a stunning autumn day when I arrived back. My Hobby is going really well, and so are both the Merlins, the Red-footed Falcon has a way to go, but he will be fine and Helen’s American Kestrel is going really well. All three Lanners are coming on as are the two new eagles, Steppes and Steller’s. My Red Kite is good but bitey! Holly’s is a brilliant flyer but not focusing yet. The owls are all pretty much ready for the first Owl Evening which starts while I am still away.


This next trip to India is mainly a big meeting and reporting from all countries involved with SAVE to see where we are, and what we need to do to get to the point where we can release vultures back to the wild, and stop worrying about NSAIDs. It will be a while yet that is for sure. I leave on Monday and am back at about the same time as the last trip on the 11th, and then apart from a couple of meetings, I am going nowhere!!


Everyone has worked really hard on the hospital, and although there is still some stuff to do, it is getting there. It will be a huge relief when it is done, it will also make a huge difference to us all to have a proper facility to deal with injured and sick birds.


The aviaries are being sorted out ready for the next breeding season already!! The volunteers and staff have been doing really well with the nest building, Holly had a picture of John wearing one which I think has gone on Facebook. I still have not worked out how to get onto Facebook. Some of the birds may lay early, so we want to be ready. The incubation and brooder rooms will be refurbished after the hospital is done and Holly is looking forward to getting it all neat and tidy and ready to go.


The grass seed on the front lawn is coming up nicely and we start pruning in the gardens next week. We still don’t know if Sorrel is pregnant or not, I am certainly not laying any money on it anyway. However by the time I get back things should be much more obvious.


Still have to get clothes ready for India, so I must put in the last of the washing now.


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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