Saturday, 1 March 2014

It's not a good day, even though the weather was lovely, as I write Sedge is being operated on and his chances of full recovery are between 20% and 50% which are not great odds.

He jumped on my lap at coffee time on Thursday, and slipped and fell, just a tiny distance, but he yelled very loudly and was immediately lame, I took him to our local vet that afternoon and he was checked over and put on pain killers and told to rest, he did not want to move anyway. He rested all day Friday, but by Friday 9.00pm he was unable to use his back legs, I rushed him back to Eden Tanners, who said it was not good. He kept Sedge in overnight and I came home and warned Vet’s Now over at Swindon that we might be over. This morning Eden phoned to say he was worse and I picked him up and drove from Ledbury to Swindon in 40 minutes. He  has had a CT scan, an MRI scan would have been better but it was not available until Monday and that would have been too late. Two discs are injured and the danger is to his spinal cord.

So keep everything fingers crossed, we will not know straight away if the damage is too great for him to go on. Unfortunately whatever the outcome, the bill could be £5500 which is very worrying at this time of the year and just what we did not need, however I could not refuse him the chance.

The trip to India was uneventful but long and the plane was packed. The cost was higher because airlines kindly put up the prices for school half terms and holidays which I think is all wrong. Have you ever noticed that petrol prices always go up at that time too. I would not even consider putting our prices up for the holidays, I guess they can get away with it because we all have no option but to use them.

It was good to see the sun in India, it makes you understand just how much you miss it, and after the dismal grey and wet winter we have been living through, it’s a joy to see and feel.

On Wednesday we put back four chicks with the Long billed vultures, in colony aviary 1. All had reared chicks previously, so all had experience with young.  We climbed a bamboo ladder to each nest (health and safety would have had a fit in the UK!) took each egg and returned each chick, I put the first and last in, and Jackie put the other two, Vibhu moved the eggs out to the incubation room and returned with the right chick for the parent. We decided that as the vultures tend to move to one end when we enter the aviary that we would put all the chicks in their nests at one end only this time to see how it went, there was one nest the other end and that also has a naïve pair, so we decided to leave her until we knew that the others had all settled. All went well and almost before we had left the colony aviary the birds were going back to their nests. All the parents reacted beautifully, nibbling their chick, brooding them, trying to pull them gently underneath. The age of the chicks varied from four days old to twenty days old, ideally eight to twelve days old is the best, but rarely does one have the ideal situation, so generally I have to say I was delighted with the process as it went. The problem when putting older chicks back is that they are more mobile, and as they have not seen parents before, they don’t understand the need to be brooded, so they can either keep getting away from the parents, or worst case fall out of the nest, which is not good. The younger chicks of course are more vulnerable, but easier for the parents to manage. Once the parent birds have brooded properly and have fed the young, one can relax a little and let them continue the job. By the end of the day all the chicks were settled and some had been fed. It was interesting to see how both males and females were extremely attentive to the chicks, one pair actually pushing one another off so they could brood!

On Thursday we put back one Slender-billed Vulture chick and one Oriental White Backed Vulture chick. The Slender – billed female vulture took the chick back in five minutes, and had fed it within half an hour. The White-backed Vulture was a one winged bird and she was with her mate in one of the breeding aviaries, she ran around on the floor while we removed the egg, however when she heard the chick calling she hopped up onto a perch and watched us return the chick. There is no CCTV surveillance in the breeding aviaries, so we put up a telescope back from the aviary and watched from there. She was back on the nest almost immediately and within an hour had fed the chick and was brooding it. All in all very successful. The four Long Billed Vulture chicks from the previous day were all doing well and some had been fed, all the parent birds were very attentive and caring for the chicks wonderfully.

On Friday we planned to return three chicks, two went back with no problems, but the last female decided that she did not want her egg removed and was quite insistent about it, so we decided rather than stressing her we would leave it, and rear that chick with one who’s parent had not double clutched, and let her hatch her second clutch egg.

The second clutch of eggs, are now going to be artificially incubated  of the first four I would say all are fertile, but one looks to be a little dubious so we have placed it in an incubator on its own, The Slender-billed Vulture egg is probably fertile, but it’s very difficult to be sure as it is rather grubby. The one winged White –backed egg is fertile and the two from colony aviary four are also be fertile. The whole point of this exercise was to see firstly the parent birds would accept back chicks, and they have done with no problems, secondly to check on the fertility and hatchability of the second clutches and see if we can do a better job than the birds were with second eggs.

All in all a very useful experiment. We only took 14 eggs rather than all of the first clutches laid. Of the 14 eggs, one was infertile, one failed to hatch, one is hatching at the moment and 11 hatched well. If the second clutches of eggs hatch as well, we will hope to produce 25 birds at Pinjore this year. If we then double clutch, and return the first young to parents and hatch the second clutches at all three Centres, I am confident that we can produce 50 young per year. Which is a significant step forward.

Bear in mind though that we are going to reduce production now we know this works, until we start releases, then we should be able to increase it enough to meet requirements.
The storm on Valentine’s day was tough to deal with, the beautiful scots pine that was behind my new garage, is no more. I looked at it just before the end of the day and it looks as if it were leaning and I could not remember seeing that before. By the time I went out to get sorted for the Owl Evening, it was most definitely leaning, by the end of the Owl evening it was about a foot away from the garage and several branches were resting on the roof, so I moved everything out of there just in case (!) David and Sally came over to see if we could do anything, but as the wind was still howling and the raining tipping down, there was little we could do, so we had a drink instead! By about midnight the ground by the roots looked like it was breathing as the tree lifted and fell back. So at 1.00am I went to bed. Sleep was not easily found, I got up at first light and the garage was still there, the tree had moved so far it was now resting on the tiles which were not holding up to the weight. The gutter was flat and one branch had gone through the roof, but otherwise things looked OK, at least certainly better than they could have been. However I had to get the tree off as soon as possible. Our usual tree guy was not available so David found someone for me. He came and looked at the tree and said he would be back with some help and a machine. He duly turned up and cut down the tree piece by piece, however because the cones are huge and kept falling off, there was some more damage to tiles on both the front and back, which was disappointing but unavoidable.


As we had already lost two trees in the car park, I was really glad we had removed the others there as I am sure they would have been down as well otherwise. The only other problem we had was with Mozart’s aviary, where the lead ridge had partially blow off. Jimmi half fixed it and John finished it off the following day.


So I wait to hear how Sedge’s operation as I finish this, and ask all of you to cross your fingers for him, the Centre would be poorer for his lose.




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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