Saturday, 31 December 2016
I can't believe that I have not written since October, it certainly is not because I have a ton of free time, because apparently I do not. I don't know where the time goes, but it sure as hell does.

So I have been to India again - Mumbai, although quite frankly it could have been anywhere because over 6 days we never left the hotel apart from to move from one to the second one, and to get to the airport to come home. Not only that but the meeting was as so many of these things are, in the basement of the hotel with no windows. There is something very depressing about being in rooms with no view to the outside world for any length of time.

India consisted of various pre meeting meetings throughout the first two days, followed by two days of the SAVE meeting. This was followed by the MsAP, which was another two day meeting. It is a Multi Species Action Plan for all vultures and I have to say that I am not convinced that it is a good idea. I fail to see how you can have a plan to assist all species of Old World Vultures throughout all of their ranges when the threats they face are very different and the cultures in their ranges are also worlds apart. Interestingly there is only one other MsAP which is for Albatrosses – their problems are more similar across their range and I guess it might work but I am seriously concerned about the vulture one.

Once we had finished the last day of that meeting we caught the plane home flying out from Mumbai finally at 3.10am - Lovely, still at least it meant we got back with a lot of the day to get home. The plane was full and we had stereophonic screaming children surrounding us. It’s a good job the windows don’t open or I would have thrown several of them out!!

Autumn was almost over when I left, it had been a glorious one and mostly the weather had been dry. We had recently had just a couple of days of some serious rain and my pond which was quite low is now back up to the top for the winter. 

Mark, our head falconer has decided to leave the Centre. He wishes to make a business in the top end of falconry equipment and says he does not have the time to do it and still work at ICBP. I think too that as the Centre evolves and its focus changes a little he is uncomfortable with the changes. I think it will be good for him to leave and be able to refocus himself. He will still be around to help out on occasions which will be nice, but the break away will do him a great deal of good. 

With Mark and Emily leaving we are looking for one new staff member next year to assist, particularly as it is our 50th anniversary coming up. We are also looking for a new Cafe Manager as Angie wants to step back a little and a PR/Marketing/Sales person. I can't believe how expensive newspaper advertising is!!
Misty afternoon trying out my new camera with the dogs

It was glorious bright frostly weather to return too after India, a little cold, but a proper winter day. Just what I needed after 6 days in the basement of hotels!

We are now closed for two months, everyone seems to be coping with Emily having left, although we do see her dropping in on occasion, and Mark is leaving on January 20th as his last day. I gather he has nearly sold his house which he has been trying to go for about four years now, so once he finishes he will be very busy finding a new home. I do not envy him, but it will be very exciting for him.

Briza has recovered from kennel cough, I have no idea how she developed it, but luckily with a very swift vaccination, none of the others got it.

They just about sat for long enough to get this!!
Because of the Bird Flu outbreak in Europe and now cases in the UK, there are various orders from DEFRA about keeping birds safe from contact with wild birds so we have grounded those that might go off our land until the order is finshed which was to be January 6th  but I suspect will be later now. As we are closed it is not affecting us much and those birds grounded would have been rested over the Christmas period anyway. It gives us time to do more maintenance jobs ready for our 50th anniversary next year. 

Christmas has come and gone, I went with Holly before Christmas to Hereford, I have not been happy with my Canon 7D or the hugely expensive and very nice, but very heavy lens, so I exchanged the whole lot for a Canon 670D and a 300mm Lens, much lighter, really good in low level light and we shall see what I get on the next trip which is South Africa.

All the birds are fine, the weather was bitterly cold for about four days after Christmas, which made feeding round a chilly job. I find that when my hands get really cold it is much more painful than it used to be when they come round! Must be old age.

We are off to South Africa teaching on a husbandry and incubation course to about 18 people on vulture conservation. When we discussed it in May it seemed like a good idea to take a week off afterwards and go to a game ranch which we have been invited to. Now of course the closer we get to leaving, and with two staff down and new staff to interview on my return, I am regretting it!! I am sure it will be fine. And if I can work out how the new camera works I might get some good photos as well.
Benbecula on a sunny but cold morning

I still have not finished my part of the talks, and have to get one with it, but after feeding round, thawing out, taking the dogs for a walk and closing up the birds there is not much of the day left. I am sure my staff hate the fact that I care for the place for about 10 days, because there is always a long list of things I want changed by the end of it!!!



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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