Sunday, 22 January 2017

The trip to South Africa was good, we first went to the house of Neil Forbes and stayed the night, had a walk through part of the game reserve and then the following day we move to Ostrich Manor a hotel in a beautiful site, although sadly lots of traffic noise. We spent three days teaching a husbandry, incubation and rearing of in this case vultures, but birds in general. It was well attended and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was held at Vulpro which is based at the foot of the Magaliesberg Range of mountains, a stunning place.
It is really important to us to share the knowledge we have gained over the last five decades so that others can benefit – more importantly the birds can benefit and the mistakes that we have made in the past are not repeated ad finitum.
Kerri Wolter then led us to Oliphants, a game reserve that her family have a share in right next to Kruger National Park. The house was stunning and had air conditioning which for me was great because I don’t sleep well in very hot conditions. Not that we slept a great deal as we were out of the house by 5am for game watching and vulture searching! The house was right on the river, and there was a huge crocodile lurking at the bottom of the bank. It was certainly not the place to go for a walk right by the river!
We spent two days there looking at impala, elephant, saw a leopard, wildebeest, bush buck, and a beautiful male black rhino. And of course we were on the lookout for many birds, specifically vultures, which we saw a good number of. Hooded Vultures, cape Vultures, African White backed Vultures and Lappet Faced Vultures.
We had an impala carcass because Kerri wanted to catch and wing tag some of the local birds, however although they came in on the first day the nylon nooses did not work and although we caught three birds, the nooses did not hold which was annoying in the extreme. We redid the nooses after the first day, but not a vulture appeared, so later in the morning we went out looking for them. We found them, lots of them, and understood why none were coming into our carcass, but sadly the reason was a very recently poached female Rhino, with her horns hacked out, her tail and ears cut off.
We reported it and then when the manager arrived left them to do what they needed to do in terms of forensics. Even worse when we got back to the house they found a second poached Rhino, this time a male and another on a nearby reserve. Three Black Rhinos in one night, it was seriously shocking to see and hard to understand why people would do this horrific act for a horn made of the same material as our fingernails.
I suppose the only saving grace was that the revolting people who did this, did not poison the carcasses, otherwise we would have found a dead Rhino and hundreds of dead vultures. It did however put a severe dampener on the day and brought home to huge problems that fame wardens are facing to save these iconic species.
We headed back to Neil’s place where there were none of the wildlife liable to eat you and so Neil and I went for a walk to see if we could find a secretary bird as they have them nesting there. Sadly they were nowhere to be found that day.
After a day spent at the veterinary college where Neil operated on two of Kerri’s vultures to give
them the chance of being released back to the wild in the future I went back to Vulpro with Kerri and Maggie and the two treated vultures and had a peaceful evening before starting the long trip home the following day.
When it get close to my coming home I start to forget where I am and just look forward to getting home. Travel is not fun it is to be endured and survived!! I was however by that time really looking forward to a great cup of tea, a cold bedroom and a welcome by my five Labradors.

It was frosty and cold on the trip back to Newent, but once I got home, overcast cold and misty. All was well, staff, birds and dogs fine, and we moved new sand into the compartments in the Hawk Walk, got the top side done. I then worked on getting my office back to working as it had been emptied and decorated while I was away.

Mark left the Centre on Friday as his last day and did his final Owl Evening, it went very well, with a bright moonlight

night, tons of stars, and cold which is as it should be in the winter. We wish Mark the best of luck in buying a new property and starting his own business making falconry equipment.

My office is now almost up and running apart from the TV is not working and neither is the printer, but then moving electrics has never been my forte!



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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