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!


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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