Monday, 26 September 2016

Sept 10th
Here I sit in Delhi Airport, waiting to get on a plane to Chandigarh. I have this habit of dividing journeys into stages. So for this first trip we are on stage five. I have seven flights in 11 days! Not my favourite thing I have to say. The weather was lovely when I left, and the dogs as wonderful as ever. Now is the time of year that we switch from the summer team of birds that have been flying since January, to the winter team.
Oxymil Pippa's new Spectacled Owl who is flying very well

We keep the summer team going until after the Falconry Weekend which we have just had. All in all considering the weather it went very well, and although we did not increase the numbers because the forecast on the Saturday was dreadful, we kept up to last year’s figures which I was relieved about. Actually the weather was nowhere near as bad as predicted – as usual!!!! However we really did know that we had diehard falconers and country people at the evening BBQ as we all stayed out for at least three hours in the pouring rain!! I did not have a dry stitch on by the end of it, at least I had put the dogs away thank goodness.

The Sunday was fine and all birds flew well, including all those invited birds that came with others. It really is a good show and the atmosphere is wonderful, assisted ably by those who attend and of course my staff who seem to enjoy it even though the run up is hard work.
The clear up went very well, all clean and tidy by the end of the day apart from the bins which went a couple of days later. I bought a second golf cart for the event and was amazed as what they can tow, a very heavy wheelie bin was nothing to them.

Now I am in India and Nepal for about twelve days, then home and looking forward to having my Sparrow Hawk out and a new Red Kite to fly now Muckle Rowe is in for moulting. It’s very weird not to be flying birds daily!!

Sept 14th
The Pre-release aviary in India
Now I am sitting at the vulture breeding centre in Pinjore. Staying at the Budgerigar Hotel with a big festival going on outside, very noisy!! We have been getting up at 5.30am each morning to be ready at the centre to catch up birds by 6.00am, after about 9.30am it is too hot to catch them without risk to the birds. So sleep is at a premium! We have one more day of it, and then a day of meetings. I am joined by Chris Bowden tomorrow and he and I will be travelling together to Nepal, so we then the train back to Delhi, which means if we get to the hotel by it will be a miracle. Our plane to Kathmandu leaves at about 6.45am, so we have to get to the airport the following day by about 4.30 – oh hooray!! And some people think I am having a bloody holiday!
Sept 16th
Its a great way to keep cool!
Well we did not get to a hotel, eventually we ended up going straight to the airport, so a night with no sleep, but a good G and T at some ungodly hour of the morning. We got to Kathmandu, caught the short flight to Bharatpur and were met by one of the BCN staff who is in charge of the release project in Nepal and drove to the hotel, only got lost about three times, but he got us there, so all power to him! We then dropped off our stuff, had a quick lunch and went to the Kasaura Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre so check that all was going to be ready to start the catch up at 6.00am the following morning. Another two days of 5.30 get up!
In the following two days we caught up all 57 vultures. We had had all the DNA sexing done previously and wanted to move them so that we had a balance of males and females. The skew of sexing in the two colony aviaries was marked and answered the questions of a lot of infertile eggs, which I was not surprised at. We ended up with 13 pairs in one colony aviary and 12 pairs in the other and seven spare females which would form the first group of vultures to be released – once permission had be granted for satellite tagging and the problems of the neighbouring States in India not being as free of diclofenac as they might be, being sorted.
The second last day was spend going to the vulture safe zone first created by Nepal, they lead the way in the creating of safe environments for the vultures. Interestingly not only in south asia, but also leading the US as we still have not managed to get lead banned in shooting and that is what is killing the California condors. So all things considering they are doing a sterling job. The people there working with the local community are amazing and have got everyone on side. This is the area where we are going to have the first release so we checked the site and chose a spot for the release aviary. There is a very good hide nearby as this is where the dead cows are placed once they die of natural causes (and guaranteed diclofenac free). So it is an ideal place for the release, apart from its proximity to the Indian border.
We stayed in a Home Stay which was very good apart from the mattress which was like rock! But then the mattresses in Pinjore are nearly that hard – I am going to take a Lillo next time! However other than that it was fine and we were treated to a jeep ride through the jungle and saw some very nice rhinos.
The following day we flew back to Kathmandu had various meetings with BCN, NT
NC and the government, stayed the night and got up early (just for a change!) to fly out. I flew to Delhi and then home, Chris flew to Delhi and then to Bangalore which is where he is living for the next three years before he comes home.
I finally got home at about 10.15pm and had a lovely greeting from Holly and Adam who picked me up from the station and an even better one from the dogs who were very pleased to see me – as I was to see them, not let me hasten to add that I was not pleased to see Adam and Holly as well! Jet lag still prevails!!


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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