Monday, 29 December 2014
Its time for a bit of a rant. I enjoy watching Saturday Kitchen during the two months that we are closed, I am usually doing other stuff in the house, but I do like it, I really like that James chap, he seems good fun, very honest and a good chef. I like him and Raymond Blanc and Nigel Slater, they are all great to watch and I would love to try their food. However I was really annoyed by a film they showed last Saturday with a cook called Rick Stein, the guy is an idiot. Firstly he commented how he loved that every inch of viable land is cultivated for food. He does not seem to understand that to do that over 90 per cent of the natural rain forests have been destroyed in that area, not only causing the extinction or near extinction of some amazing species, but taking down trees is a really bad thing to do for the planet, and these are, unless humans stop breeding the way the do now,  irreplaceable. They also give us oxygen and I don't know about you, but I really like having oxygen.
Then he showed a wild civet cat in a tiny cage and gaily told us that it is being fed on nothing but coffee beans, indeed he fed it with some (I would love to see him survive on nothing but coffee beans for a month, let alone all its captive life), the beans go through the animals body and the resulting coffee is supposed to be very special. He then tried some on his staff in his restaurant somewhere in Devon to see if they could tell the difference between normal coffee and beans that have been eaten and crapped out by a civet cat. Not only were only just over half his staff able to correctly identify the right coffee but none of them said that it was stunningly better than any other coffee. Just imagine how many civet cats are kept in an appalling way to produce this ridiculous variation of a coffee that is not even identifiable by a bunch of people who supposedly are experts in terms of taste. The guy as I said, is an idiot and very short sighted, and I will not be going to his restaurant.
At the same time I would like to congratulate Chris Packham for his letter to Ant and Dec (whoever they are) about I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of here. I have to say that I have not watched it, I find most reality television a cheap and nasty way to supposedly entertain the public and I abhor it. But the stuff they do on that particular programme is obscene and cruel and completely unnecessary. The use of insects and reptiles, fish and amphibians to amuse the public is reminiscent of the old Roman Games where animals killed one another or humans for the entertainment of other humans. The Japanese do the same sort of programme and all it does is as Chris says, vilify the animals which they do not deserve and teach people to have a complete lack of respect for life other than their own. Its not acceptable and shows a huge lack of intelligence both from those who are involved in making those sort of programmes and I am afraid those who encourage it by watching them.
While I am mentioning television just how many times has Back to the Future been shown on TV, it must be even more times than the Harry Potter films. Good Lord there must be more films to show us!
It was pretty cold last night and this morning the weather forecasters were bemoaning the fact that it
was cold - its winter for heaven's sake, its supposed to be cold and actually we have only had about four frosts here this winter, and only one last winter. Its good for the country, kills off insects and breaks up the soil. We like it here in the winter - its proper and in its place and time.
The birds are well, the daffodils are showing a inch of leaves as are the snowdrop, although the frosts may slow them up. New Year approaches!
Saturday, 27 December 2014
Christmas day and Boxing day done and dusted. I went carol singing with the villagers last week, at least it was much more fun than last year when we had gales and torrential rain, I was soaked before we even started. This year we did well and many of the people we sang to had a glass of something for us, which was greatly appreciated. Did a reading at the carol service as well and even got to play the Inn Keeper in the kids nativity play. I think that is a first for me!
I went to Edinburgh for a few days earlier this month to see my sister Anna, we went to hear the Kings College Cambridge Choir, which was lovely, although we both agreed that carols lose something when not sung in a church. But I have wanted to hear them for ever, so it was great to get the chance. A good friend picked me up from Birmingham airport and we drove to get a Christmas tree - it was huge!!! I ended up cutting about 15 inches off the bottom so it would stop falling over, but it looks super now!
Agapanthus had an operation on his right leg to help with his lameness, the vet cut through one of the two bones (radius and ulna) to slow down the growth, it seems to be working although I felt awful putting him through it, especially as he has to have the other leg done, and be neutered at the same time. But if it means he can run around properly without pain it will be worth it. Heaven knows what it will cost, and I doubt the insurance will cover all. Still cheaper than children!! And quieter too! However having to be in most of the time he is getting stir crazy and is chewing any and everything he can find, it is amazing how high he can find things with a broken leg!!

Birds are all well, we flew everyone up to just before Christmas and now they are having a short break until all the staff are back which is January 5th next year! I look after everything now until they are all back, its nice to have them to look after for a while, although the golf cart got a bit temperamental yesterday and I was not looking forward to pushing a barrow again, luckily it had recovered this morning. The Griffon Vultures have an egg, so do the Spectacled Owls, which was more of a surprise, a couple of other owls also have eggs.
The new incubator room is about ready and just needs Holly to come back to put everything exactly where she wants it. The office bit will be done soon after the 5th and the brooder room will follow. The part of the roof that is over the kitchen is done and I hope to do one more part before running out of funds. It will take a while to do the whole thing, but well worth it. The smaller tiles look so much better than the horrid concrete ones we had.
We were actually mowing in December its been so mild, just an amazing autumn and first part of the winter temperature wise. It started to get cold towards Christmas and there was a frost on Christmas morning as I fed round. However the forecast snow for us did not materialise, we just had cold rain. This was probably a good thing as I had to take Agapanthus to Ledbury to have his stitches out this morning.
I had my usual Christmas Eve drinks party for locals who kindly allow us to wander over their land when we have a missing bird. It went well, the mulled wine was excellent, so good I had to top it up twice. Most of the food went and almost all the smoked salmon! Luckily I was invited to Christmas lunch by a good friend which was lovely.
I am looking forward to 2015, it is going to be a good one. We will be a charity, which should make a difference to us. Our new hospital is working out really well and we are getting far more of the injured wild birds back to the wild. All in all we are hoping for a great year.
Wednesday, 3 December 2014
Bloody hell, a month has gone by, I don't know where the time goes, so what has happened. Well if I start from today and go backwards it might work. We spent the last two days looking for Updraft, Holly's male Saker. He buggered off on Monday and we found him fairly easily in the middle of Newent Woods almost at the top of May Hill, he came down pretty well and he was still popular. So having lost a little weight overnight she flew him again yesterday and damn me he did the same thing again! This time we were out in the van from 2.00pm until well after dark. We chased him to Huntley, Kites Nest Woods (very apt!) Highnam, Tibberton, back to Huntley, back to Tibberton and then finally Newent woods again!! But this time on the lower side. By dark having been joined by the rest of the team we were walking through a very muddy wood, I lost my welly and was at one point laughing my head of on my hands and knees with one very soggy sock and my boot about four feet away, and it was not easy to get it out either. We pinned him down to an area where we hoped he was in a tree but it was very dark by this time and very thick woods. So we left him and hoped for the best. Holly and I were back before day light and finally found him on the ground in the middle of the woods, so not only was he very lucky not to have been eaten by a fox, but it explained why the signal was so difficult to follow. He is back and will go back on a training line tomorrow and is rather less popular although he and Holly have now made a record!

The trip to Bangladesh was interesting, the SAVE meeting went very well, it was extremely well organised, the people were wonderful. However - yet another hotel with no alcohol!! We did go on an intrepid trip through Dhaka and found a much posher hotel that did have a bar, but that was the only evening!! Dhaka is a nightmare, the traffic has to be seen to be believed. We then at the end of the meeting went on a six hour trip to a Tea Garden and then in the morning to see birds in a wood (LBJ's) and then to a wetlands where we did see Palaces Fish Eagle (in the distance) and some lovely Brahminy Kites. OK we saw various ducks and more LBJs as well, but I am not a serious bird watcher unless it has a hooked beak and is not a speck in the distance!!

I stopped off in India on the way back and we went to Pinjore and the following day found a potential release site for the birds for the first release and then had a meeting with the people from four States to see if we could work on it being a Vulture Safe Zone in time. Chris and I took the train back to Delhi and an Auto - one of those three wheeler things - a first for me! back to a hotel and I flew out the next morning. I did manage to lose my small camera and I can't find my phone anywhere although I know I had it on the train home to Gloucester.

The birds were all well on my return, all flying well, my Merlin Windward is a dream, one of the best merlin's we have had. Scarba my Lugger Falcon after a shaky start is flying well too. Mark is training a lovely adult African Hawk Eagle for demonstration that has been loaned to us. She won't lay eggs and refuses to hunt, which is perfect for us for demonstrations.

Can you believe it, its December 3rd and we have been mowing the lawns!!!! Its the first time they have been dry enough to get a lawn mower on them, and the grass has not stopped growing.

We saw Sedge on Sunday, he is doing really well and is obviously very loved, he of course went completely banana's and even Mike could hear him from up on the roof!! The roofing is going well, the bees caused a problem but we think that is sorted out now and the dry weather is holding which is wonderful for us.

We are closed now and getting stuff done which is always nice, although I was not pleased to have to tidy up the new workshop this morning!! Agapanthus ate the phone and the answerphone while I was away, but hopefully that is sorted out now, I will be pleased when he stops chewing, but he is having front leg problems and so has to be shut in a lot and that does not help. The big chair in the kitchen is in for repairs again as well!

We have a staff meeting tonight and then its time to get my Christmas Cards sorted out!
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Apart from Wednesday, and possibly today, its been a glorious school half term and we have been really busy, which has been lovely to see. With sun, and people and autumn colours, it has been a good week, although pretty short staffed a lot of the time. Roll on being able to afford a couple more bird staff.

The dogs have been frightening me to death eating Yew berries, the tree in the drive is laden and as fast as we rake them up, more come down, I will be glad when they are done. So far there has not been a problem but they are very toxic, and I know they are going through them because their droppings are very festive!

We start Owl Evenings next Saturday, its amazing how quickly they come around. I am hoping that the two young Snowy Owls will be able to get into the swing of things and start to be as good as Cool Ground was. The bookings are going well and most of the November dates are full with December slowly filling up, I am always surprised that November is more popular than December as it seems to be such a Christmassy thing to do!

The speakers in the field are now back up and both running properly, we were down to one which was not good, but yesterday the weather was so amazing I tackled the digging in of the new cable with Adam and we started at 9.00am, and by 1.30 with half an hour for coffee and a break during the flying demonstration, we had the cable inside a pipe, the 50 metre trench dug, the cable in, the speakers both working and the soil and turf back in place before 1.30, not bad going for about three hours work. Patrick one of our volunteers came and helped after the first demonstration, and Holly tested the sound system with a poem on the Jabberwok!

We go down to two demonstrations per day as of Monday which should give us more time to get things done. Charlie does it at Duncombe and my staff wanted to see if it could work for us. So often there is no one there for the last demonstration in the winter, so just doing two should work. They will be at 12.00 noon and 2.30pm, and as we will have a fair number of birds to fly, depending on the weather I suspect they will each last close to an hour anyway.

We have a full line up for the seven day course starting on Monday as well, so Mark will be out of action for a week teaching that, with input from some of the rest of us as well.

The move to the new workshop is working well and so far all the tools are being kept tidy - wonders will never cease. It makes such a difference if you can find things quickly to do jobs. We fixed the roof over the coal and wood shed, it was leaking badly over all the main electrics, which somehow did not seem to be a very good idea. Needless to say the job became more complicated as soon as we started, with some of the wall having to be rebuilt! However it looks very good now and I managed by sheer luck to buy 5 solid (and I mean solid - they weigh a ton) for £30 each, so two will go as doors into the new brooder and incubation rooms and three in the courtyard. We priced hardwood door surrounds and they wanted £160 each!!!! So I am getting Philip to make them for me.

The first internal wall in the new Avian Propagation Unit (that will never last as a name!) is up and only has to be clad, so hopefully we will be racing ahead with all that, as some of the birds are already looking like thinking of nest building, we need to get it done. I think the big trench across my front lawn is going to have to wait until next year.

Holly's new Saker called Updraft is going well - very well, the female called Sandstorm buggered off two weeks ago, Mark and Jimmi tracked her until dark and made sure she was up in a tree and Jimmi and I got there just before first light and finally got her back after a couple of hours chase. We did our good deed for the day and rescued a sheep with its head stuck in a fence, it was not at all grateful.

Sedge is well, Agapanthus ate the TV remote control, and has an annoying habit of picking up the water bowl when it is full, you can imagine the result.

Sunday, 19 October 2014
The first young bred in Nepal
I know I know, I have not updated for ages, but things have been busy since I got back from India and Nepal. We survived the trip, it turned out to be eight flights, no train trip - probably a good thing, two five hour drives and one nightmare nine hour one in Nepal. That was not fun, we ended up in a rice paddy field, with no lights on the car, no idea where we were and the possibility of Rhino's about, I was not amused! However we got most things done, and that in not particularly good weather, I think it rained in West Bengal, Assam and Nepal!! Next trip is Bangladesh in November with a possible side trip to India on the way back to assess potential release sites. I have not been to Bangladesh, I hope there are not floods when I am there, I have to say that flying always worries me, and now you wonder if the plane has been somewhere like West Africa recently and if so has it been fumigated!!
I came back to the most beautiful end of September, I was a little miffed that I had missed such lovely weather, but it was great to be home and at the start of autumn which I love. It has been extremely wet since, but as I write the sun is out and the colours on the trees are sparkling as is the pond.
New tractor shed and Jimmi pretending its all his own work!
We have been very short staffed with various people having holidays so I have been out in the Centre and neglecting my computer, the dreaded emails and this weblog. However the new workshop/tractor shed is done with a little more to do inside and the power to get down to it, but otherwise all the stuff is now safely away. We took down the very dilapidated and ugly old workshop, boy that was a task, but its done and the tree roots are out so we are getting it all looking smart again. While I was away Mike and Rob with a little help cut the leylandii that are behind the small falcon block right back as they had got far to large, it does not look pretty right now, but it will smarten up over the next growing season and we will be able to keep it in check now. The difference in the light levels in those enclosures and in Barn 3 is amazing. Next job is the leylandii's by Real, which need to go and that will give those birds far more light throughout the year.
All the new birds are going well, some have left us for new homes and the rest are going to join the official team. The Brahminy Kite Zephyr is now fishing on the pond which is very exciting, a great chance of wonderful photos! The three Lanners that we have kept are all doing well, the two Sakers we bought have been a challenge, they were in my opinion not parent hatched and reared, but hopefully once we have got over their temperament problems they will fly well.
Sedge is doing really well in his new home and if you do FaceBook I think you will find he has his own page, I have no idea how to work Facebook and I am not sure I want to learn at this point! The puppies are well, Agapanthus has so far destroyed the kettle and a salt cellar, I have to put everything out of reach at night, which is a challenge as he gets bigger, and bigger he is getting!
The charitable status is coming along, it is hard work and my role apparently is going to be to raise money, so look out, I will be on the hunt once we are a charity, I need you to introduce me to lots of rich friends (I don't think I have any!) so that we can make this place sing the way that it should do. I have a ton of ideas, just need the funds to do them all - oh and a very long life!
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Vultures in Delhi in 1992
Off to India and Nepal on Monday, it is a gruelling trip, six flights, one train trip, one 6 hour road trip, three vulture centres and heaven knows how many vultures to catch up and process for health checks, checking on identification marks, and obtaining DNA for sexing, plus various meetings as well. However it needs to be done. I am going with Nic Masters the chief vet at ZSL who is fun to travel with and we will be seeing Chris Bowden in Nepal. But I miss 12 days of the autumn here!! And to cap it all I have a horrid cold to go with!
Sedge's new hat
Sedge is well and very happy, here is what Gill wrote about him this week:
Sedge has settled in SO well. No tummy upsets - yet. Fly (Colly) adores him. He had to spend the mornings last week at home (approx. 3 hours) with Fly as it was enrolment week at college. Charlotte was home by 11am each day. On the first day she peeped through the window and saw that he was asleep in his cage with Fly sleeping alongside him on the outside and Smudge our ginger and white cat asleep on top of the cage! This seems to be a habit now. He has been to Tessa / Karen for hydrotherapy and is there Tuesday at 5pm and again on Friday.
He went to Moreton Show on Saturday and loved it. He was fascinated by the motor bike display in the main ring. Charlotte bought him a doggy tweed cap which he is very proud of.
We will be going to Frampton this weekend with him and maybe have a go at terrier racing.
We are so pleased with him and cannot imagine life without him. Amanda has taken several photos of him for you which she will send in the next few days. Some of them are of him mucking out our neighbours horses yesterday. She has Escapado (Peanuts) on permanent loan (she used to be Carl Hesters head groom) and he was fascinated by Sedges wheels.
So I don't have to worry about him which is wonderful, and it is even more wonderful that he is happy and so are his new owners. So now Briza is causing problem!! She keeps getting out and taking the puppies with her, she is now in jail until we get the fence sorted out.
We are topping the Leylandii behind the small falcon block which is where she is now escaping and once that is done then the fence can be redone as well. My very nice neighbourly farmer has offered to clear up the tops with a machine and dispose of them for us, which will save us a ton of work and we are very grateful. I have been meaning to do it for ages but it was a daunting task. We will then put up nest boxes in the remains, which will be over 12 feet high and should still give homes to various birds.
Oh and some of my customers have seen two Kingfishers on the pond, which is exciting, I have not seen them but then whenever I go down there the dogs come, so that probably frightens them away. And we have a wild Barn Owl who keeps coming round and chatting up our trained ones, I suspect it is a female as she seems to like the two males, she also sits on Holly's window! Nice to see. So that means we have Little Owls, Tawny Owls and a Barn Owl around us in the wild, as well as the Goshawks, Buzzards, Kestrels, Peregrines, Hobby's and the occasional Red Kite which we have seen twice this week.
The bats are now roosting in the new garage, which is nice, it must be much drier than my cellar. They look like little plums hanging there and they are right up in the apex so well away from anything, I was hoping that the Swallows would go in there too, perhaps next year. They are all getting ready to leave soon and will probably be gone by the time I get back from Nepal.
Zephyr is the newest species for us to breed, he is a (very noisy!) and wonderful Brahminy Kite and is starting to fly really well, you should come and see him before the end of the year!
Friday, 5 September 2014
Its autumn!! It really is, mists in the morning, the leaves are turning on the field maples and on my Indian Horse Chestnut tree, I have picked and eaten (and survived!) mushrooms from the field and it feels like autumn now, although it has been very warm once the mist has gone.
The Falconry Weekend went really well, the weather was kind, I was worried during the week as we did have rain and I was concerned that the field would get cut up before the weekend, but Burgoynes who put up all the shedding and marquees were great and did it all from their lorry on the hardstanding track at the top. The people delivering the loos were really helpful too as the ground was a little soft on the Wednesday. However Saturday dawned dry and reasonably bright with a zephyr of a breeze and all went well. Helen MacDonald signed and sold all her books and David Cobham signed and sold all his by lunchtime, I find it remarkably stupid of the publishers that they would not allow either author more books when they probably could have sold double the number. Very stupid people who obviously do not know their job! Poor Helen had to buy the extra books I suggested she bring and even then did not have enough - Publishers - grow up and learn your market a little better.
Baby Verreaux's will be out soon!
All the birds did well, the seminars were well attended and we had nearly double the number of stands this year over last year. Helen, Jimmi, Adam and Holly all helped me cut up the venison on Thursday evening and we ate some as well to test it - it was very good. I then marinated it in cider until the BBQ on Saturday evening for all the clubs and trade stands, we had a very good time. I am told that one artist who shall be nameless had a particularly good time and had to be helped up the lawn to his bed at 2.00am! He did not look that well in the morning!!
Sedge was greatly missed, he probably would have had a great time and eaten himself silly, Indigo certainly would have done as he did last year. I missed them both. The other dogs behaved well, although Briza did steal some socks from Trevor Fowles' tent - he flew his lovely Bald Eagle for us. I have not offered to give them back as they are not really wearable any longer. The puppies enjoyed it and Agapanthus joined me in the last demonstration and helped to fly a falcon - well sort of helped!!
I had to go to a meeting of the National Birds of Prey Trust on Monday morning in London which I did not want to do, because really I was needed for the clear up, however next year I will be home to help do it. I must have been more tired than I thought as I ran to catch the 2.30 train home and then went to sleep just before Swindon where I should have changed trains and woke up just as the damn train was pulling out of the station so there went all my plans for getting home early.
However the field is clear and clean, everything is away for another year, or almost everything. We have a seven day course next week and I fly to India on Monday Week for twelve days. I am not looking forward to it as I miss so much here. However needs must as they say.
I am hoping to get my Hobby out soon, and probably a good thing not today as there were a ton of dragonflies on the pond.
Monday, 25 August 2014

Gosh what a gap Sedge has left! It was the hardest thing to drop him off, hand over all his stuff (there was a lot of it - towels, coats, food, bowls, wheels and so on!) and then drive away. It seems very quiet here without him and I can actually get to the phone in the shop again. However I have heard how he is doing, and he is very happy and being spoilt I would guess! He was on the sofa with Amanda (his new best friend) Fly the sheep dog and a cat (amazing). He has two new jersey's to keep him warm and some leg warmers, some toys and has already had a game with Fly. So I guess I need not worry (but probably will for a bit) And now Shasta is not well, not sure what it is yet, but I have already spoken to the vet and we are working on it.
The flying demonstration at the Essex Dog Day went really well, it is a lovely show, really nice people, a great arena and the perfect tree just outside of it for Bay Middleton to fly in and out of. All the birds were faultless, it was still and warm, so they all managed much better than last weekend where it was very windy on the top of the Cotswolds. Hare did some lovely flying, and Karis pulled off one of his stunning stoops even though he is moulting like mad.
Today sadly, as it is a Bank Holiday and the last one of the year for us as we are not open over Christmas (thank goodness) it is a little bleak, very damp, and although the mizzley rain has gone, it bodes badly for later in the day. I hope it all dries up so that next weekend is good, that will suffice I think.
Thanks as ever to Linda for the lovely photos
My merlin has been flying well as have the three young first clutch lanners, Mark and I are training the two in the second clutch. We have two Sakers coming next week as well, it is hard to find pure ones these days. My new Hare replacement (so he can have a summer off for a really good moult) is a young male Grey Buzzard Eagle, the brother to the female I took up for Charlie on Thursday, he is lovely although very vocal, however I think that will ease as he gets going. The baby Brahminy Kite now called Zephyr, is flying free and will be lovely in the future and the last of the Yellow Billed Kite babies is out and will start training very soon.
The two baby snowy owls that we are keeping are doing well, Mark is training the female and I have to get sorted to do the male. Now Sedge is gone and I am up to scratch with most of my paperwork, I hope to get going, until of course I have to go to India and Nepal September 15th, sometimes it seems very endless!
Other than that, we are hoping that the Falconry Weekend is its usual big success, we have some lovely people flying birds as well as the teams here and Holly has a great idea for next year! The workshop is getting close to being done so we can take down the old one, I am seriously looking forward to going through everything in there and having a big sort out. The tiles for the Incubation Facility are here and will be down by the end of the week, so we move on slowly as ever.
Most importantly I hope that the charitable status will be fixed by the end of October, and that will hopefully make a difference to us here, fingers crossed. And soon Autumn will be here - my favourite time of the year.
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
To my utter joy and thankfulness, four people have contacted me about Sedge, one from Scotland who works with owls, but sadly that is too far away for us. One lady who does hydrotherapy in Dorset who wanted to help. One wonderful lady from Essex who lost her disabled daughter two years ago and could manage him, and one who has met Sedge at his Hydrotherapy at Cotswold Dog Spa at Hartpury, and loved him, has  one dog and two daughters and an Aga, all of which are perfect for Sedge. They came over today and saw him in his home environment and are going to have him. He will sleep in one of the girls bedroom - what a treat for him, he will go to shows with them, they show sheep, he will love that, go to Hartpury college and generally have a much better time than here, plus he will still go to Karen at Hydrotherapy and he adores her, so that will be great. I am going to take him over to them on Friday after work.
Will I miss him of course, he has been a part of my life for five years and a huge part since his accident, will he be better off - absolutely, he hates the puppies and will be a part of a family there in a way that I can't give him. They have said they will do a Facebook page for him so you will be able to keep up with his escapades, which is wonderful.
I am driving up to ICBP Helmsley on Thursday, we have a lovely young female Snowy Owl, who is at the stage she needs to be learning in Charlie's flying field, not ours, so I am taking her up there. Plus a female Grey Buzzard Eagle ready to train. Both need to start working this week. I then have to go to Essex on Sunday to the Essex Dog Day to give a demonstration. They are lovely people over there and its a really nice flying arena. It will be the last external show of the summer although I have one at a school in October, but that will be a different team of birds by then. So its a week of long drives.
We have gone through the programme for the Falconry Weekend and it is looking good, I need to put it up on the websites as soon as I can. We have some lovely people coming to fly birds and work dogs, which is nice to know, all I hope for is great weather to help us through the weekend.
It is starting to feel autumnal now, the very hot weather has gone and it is much cooler. We have managed to get away with flying outside for most of the demonstrations in the last two days, only half of one was inside. The Hawthorn is laden with berries this year, someone is bound to say that means we are going to be in for a hard winter!! I have just made some plum vodka and some peach vodka and next I need to pick the damsons and make some damson gin, then we will be set up for Christmas!!!
Wish Sedge and his new family the best of luck, I do. Oh and have a look at this clip on YouTube!
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Indigo and Rush as babies
Get that ball Indigo!
The end of an era, I have lost Indigo, he was the last of my original line and the last one who went and came back from the long long sojourn in the US. He was thirteen and a half, a good age for my Labradors, and he had suddenly started to show his age in the last three months. He was very arthritic in his elbows, and then on Thursday he suddenly went lame, very lame behind. So I took him to Eden's on Friday and he had ruptured his cruciate ligament. At his age it is inoperable and anyway keeping him in a crate which is what you are supposed to do for six weeks would have made him miserable. I brought him home and we tried pain killers, but they really did nothing. So I organised for Eden to come

out and put him down on Tuesday. Indigo insisted on coming upstairs to bed each night, which for the last couple of nights was a huge effort on both of our parts, on the trip up at night and back down in the morning. But that was Indigo, a brave a loyal boy. He is now buried next to his brother Rush in the woods and I miss him daily, as do we all.
An old and valiant man
The younger generation grow apace, Agapanthus is a big puppy, almost twice the size of his sister Night Shade, but they are both charming people. They are vaguely related to Indigo through his dad, but it is really hard to keep a blood line through the males, much easier through the girls of which I now have four.
I have also put out a plea on Facebook, or at least Holly is going to put it up for me tomorrow, looking for a home for Sedge. He hates the puppies, and he would make such a great friend to someone who is a dog person without a dog at the moment and who works from home. He is great fun in his cart and not that much effort if he is the only person you have to worry about. Here is hoping I can find him a lovely lovely home.
Birds are well, we have split up Lammerlaw and Faraday the African Fish Eagles as we have a new
male for Lammerlaw and she and Faraday are siblings which is not good for breeding. The two boys are next to one another and being pretty vocal right now. My Merlin, Windward is starting to fly quite well and we have just got out my new young male Grey Buzzard Eagle, what a lovely looking boy, I hope he flies well and is nicer than Scorpius who does not like me and the feeling is mutual!! The three new Lanners are going loose and the last two now out for training and we hope to add two new Sakers to the team as well.
I have started to paint the Incubation Facility - white for a change, rather than the usual magnolia. It has been an interesting day weatherwise and we had a thunderstorm all around us for the last demonstration, but just about got away without the rain until 5.30, which was jolly decent of it.
Its definitely juvenile buzzard year, we have two that are about ready to go if I can find someone to hack them back, a very weird one who's wings and tail appear not to have grown yet, but I think they are coming and the most beautiful very pale bird, who went back to the wild today.
Next task, a show at the weekend, and then one next sunday and then the Falconry Weekend, which if the weather is good should be a first class weekend.
Monday, 11 August 2014
The weeks fly by, the weather has been stunning apart from yesterday and even now it is beautiful out there,  the rain has filled and cleared the pond, the plants and trees are looking washed, clean and happy and everything has a fresh look to it.
I have been to South Africa, I offered to help a group called Vulpro, run, conceived and driven by Kerri Wolter. She/they are working with injured wild vultures from all over South Africa. They are also working on breeding them using the non releasable birds. They are at a crossroads where I think they will be very important to African vulture conservation and I hope I was able to help.
Africa's vultures are in trouble. Every time you hear about elephants or rhinos being poisoned by these disgusting poachers bear in mind that hundreds and probably thousands of other animals and birds will die as well. All the scavengers, vultures, hyena's, jackals, hunting dogs, crows, egrets, ibis, these are just a few of those that will be affected by this revolting trade in animal death. Add to that the indirect poisoning by local farmers to protect their domestic livestock, the Muti market, which is the use of thousands of dead animals and birds for tribal medicine and last collisions and electrocutions on power lines, not to mention wind power which will have a bad effect on vultures as well.
In some ways the problems for vultures in South Asia
are much easier to deal with if only the governments would see it and get more involved.
It was good to see a couple of old friends in Africa and to get to eat beef biltong again though. I suspect I will go out again to help if needed and if I can afford it again!
I had my painting skirt on on Friday, which actually looks much like most of my skirts these days, a little old!! But this one has more paint on it that all the others. We have just put a proper gate where there were two old bits of metal fencing to stop the dogs from going next door. And I managed to paint it and myself black!! The gate looks rather smarter than I do.

I was going to start on painting the new Incubation facility, but did not get round to it, that will be a task for the evenings I suspect.
The three new Lanners are flying well, all three should be loose by the end of today, my merlin, called Windward is going well, although still flying like a wasp round a jam sandwich. The young owls are all doing well and I think the two Snowy Owls are going to be very good. We still have two more Lanners to get out and a new Grey Buzzard Eagle for me so I can give Hare a rest from shows. We have one kite left so we will train that one to join the team as well. Mark is most of the way through training the new Kestrel and we are hoping he will be as good as Nijinski was.
Our new birds staff member starts on September 1st, the day after the Falconry Weekend, and will go onto the seven day falconry course that is running from the start of the second week. We have an exciting weekend lined up for August 30 and 31st, apart from our birds flying, Gary Biddiss will be here with his birds, Nigel King is keeping secret what he is going to fly, Trevor Fowles is going to bring his Bald Eagle which by all reports is very good, and Bob Dalton is going to fly his falcon as well. We have TWO book signings and possibly three, not sure about the last one yet. David Cobham is going to be signing his new book 'A Sparrow Hawk's Lament'  on Saturday. which is a great read with wonderful illustrations by Bruce Pearson. Helen MacDonald is going to be signing her book H is for Hawk, on both days, so it is going be a very special Falconry Weekend - don't miss it!
Saturday, 19 July 2014

Well I have to say its been a shitty week. The weather was lovely until last night when we had a mother of a thunderstorm and very heavy rain, which I was out in as there was a power cut and the drains were blocking. However the gardens did need it, this will have given them a much needed drink. At the end of last week our Great Grey Owl from the Owl Courtyard, one of the breeding pair, except that they have never bred, got ill. We took it to Vets Now, but sadly she died two days later. Then a good friend of mine gave me a ten day old male Sparrow Hawk chick, who died 36 hours later. I am confident that it was nothing that we did, I do not know why it happened sadly. Then Nijinsky our elderly and much loved Kestrel suddenly became ill and as he was rapidly losing weight and not responding to treatment we decided not to try and keep him going when it obviously was not fair on him so he was euthanized. Then the oldest male baby Snowy Owl decided to die, he had been doing well, but had enteritis that did not show until he was dead. Then to cap it all my beautiful baby Tawny Eagle suddenly got the same symptoms as the other Tawny Eagles had, just when we thought we were past the danger point, and so I had to have him euthanized as well. So a really shitty week all in all.

However the puppies have now all gone and so the two I am keeping - Agapanthus who is a boy and twice the size of Nightshade who is a girl. They are very happy and pleased to be in the house and have settled well all things considered. Sedge is not being too mean to them and I have not had to rush downstairs in the middle of the night to a screaming puppy as yet! It is a relief to have the others gone and I know they are all in great homes, so I don't have to worry about them. I hope their new owners are having as much fun with them as we are. Mine love the fan in the weighing room, because it has been so warm they have been lying in front of, when they are not trying to dig all the water out of the various water bowls around the place!
We have started training this years young Lanners or at least some of them, we are keeping and training five as we are a little short on flyers this year. I am training and female as is Helen and Jimmi is training a male, the other two are second clutch birds and so not quite ready, so Holly and Mark will train those. I am also training the only Merlin that we bred, who is jumping to the fist nicely however we can't work out what sex it is! Its definitely either male or female.
Holly and I did a flying demonstration on Thursday in Quedgeley, which is near the river on the outskirts of Gloucester and it is always a difficult place to fly because of the damn gulls. We must have had 400 of the things flying over us when we started. They chased the falcons and hated the eagle but otherwise ignored the kites and Harris Hawk. The birds were amazing although you could see they were a little concerned about the gulls. So was I!
My sister Dinah and brother Nick are here now, both arrived yesterday, so they saw a short period of sunny weather and now it is raining again as I write bugger it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014
My eye is sore! Damn it, I think I can see better, but I am not sure, if I close the right eye things are more or less in focus but it has changed my vision and I don't think my brain has caught up with it yet!
Still have two boy pups to go, so if you know anyone who would love a beautiful pedigree KC registered black lab, let me know! I have been taking them out into the field and they just love the Burrowing Owl mounds, they were obviously made just for puppies to play on. I can remember when Sedge was tiny he actually went down one of the tunnels, it was fun to see.
Sedge does not like the puppies, he is horrid to them and needless to say they are fascinated by his wheel chair, so it is not a good mix at the moment. Karen from Cotswold Dog Hydrotherapy is convinced that Sedge will walk again, even our Vet Eden Tanner was amazed at the difference in him, it is harder for me to see differences because I see him everyday and cope with his not insignificant needs, but fingers crossed that I can cope long enough for it to happen.
Holly's Hawk Owl now called Sirocco is flying very well as is Muggy the Abyssinian Eagle Owl that Jimmi has trained. Haze, Helen's Barn Owl is a girl most definitely and is flying to the buzzer, but is a little too fat at the moment! Team Cloud, the SIX Burrowing Owls are now on demonstration although it is a little chaotic I have to say! Rhian has been training  Drizzle the Asian Brown Wood Owl, who is hysterical, he starts to fly towards her, or the perch and then panics, he almost hovers and then has to make a decision to turn back or go on and he is not that decisive! Mark and I are going to train two of the now hatching Snowy Owls, well most have hatched, there is one to go.
The Grey Buzzard Eagle has finally taken back a chick so she is rearing one now, which is great. The Striated Caracara's have looked like laying for weeks and not done it although I am not that sorry. We have three eggs left in the incubators and then we are done for the breeding season - hooray! Our wild Little Owls brought off four chicks in the Leylandii hedge, which Jimmi ringed. I have a feeling he is the one that ringed some of our magpies as well, however one ended up in Gazelle's feet (Lanner) and did not survive the experience, he was very proud of himself.
It has been dry for ages, so the garden is suffering a little, but we are getting wonderful flying from those birds who like warm weather. Discovery has been a little odd since her short stay at Duncombe, twice now she has seriously and I mean seriously chased pigeons, she damn nearly got one two days ago and it was a really exciting flight!! We will be starting on the new falcons in a week or so, which will be good as we are a little short on falcons right now. Its always fun to start on the new birds.
My brother and sister are coming to stay this month which will be fun, I have not seen either of them for nearly two years, that is the problem of one being in the US and one being in New Zealand I guess.
Don't forget - I need a good home for the last pups!


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.

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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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