Wednesday, 27 December 2017
Another Christmas over for another year, I had a pleasant and peaceful one with some very nice presents. We went carol singing last thursday and raised £180 for a local hospice which was good. I also sang in the carol concert earlier and went to the Christmas Carol service up in the village. So I have had plenty of carols, which I love. I have had charge of the birds since last Saturday, the staff all come back on the 2nd, although Holly and Adam are around and about. Holly helped me feed today.

Having fed the birds on Christmas day with help from David who comes over to help  that day, I had a coffee and did a few things and then went out to Christmas lunch with my friend Alice and her family. It was delicious! The only down side of not doing your own turkey is that you don't get cold turkey the following days! However not having to cook one is a huge bonus, actually I probably would not do it anyway.
I came back to check the birds and take the dogs for a walk which they are insistant about at this time of the year. Although poor Briza is struggling now she is so close to having puppies. She also gets me up at 3.00am every morning as she can't go through the night now!

The trained owls have been delighted to have a few days off, Hemp is starting to come into breeding condition so she will not come back on duty, Yorkley will take her place for the 2018 early Owl Evenings, I don't think he has done one yet, so that could be interesting!
We had a sprinkling of snow on the field this morning and the Malverns which I can see out of my office window are a glistening white. I am not sorry we did not have more as it does make feeding round much more difficult, although it also makes us appreciate the golf carts even more when we can't use them.

We are now looking forward to the breeding season starting, which should be the African White backed Vultures first of all, at least they were first last year.We now have six here which gives us good choice for breeding. Very sadly the male White-headed vulture who came here died very suddenly, we are not sure of the cause but he did it the day he was supposed to have a cateract operation. I am not sure it they really help a bird, I had Mozart done years ago and I don't think it made an appreciable difference to his ability to get round his aviary. This vulture would never have been suitable for breeding anyway, so our female will have to wait a little for a potential husband.

We have switched the merlins around, and I hope they will do something, we have also split up the Steppe Eagles hoping that absence will make the heart grow fonder, They have not laid fertile eggs for several years now and I would really like them to start breeding again,  particularly as they have recently been uplisted as Endangered in the wild now.

I am still struggling with the new microsoft 365, which I still consider to be crap. The new Outlook has no spell check, I can't find anything. I have to download anything to read it and I think the people who wrote the programme should be fed to my vultures. Other than that - I hate it!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017
It snowed! And snowed and snowed. We had about 6 inches by lunchtime on Sunday. Helen could not get in to feed the birds which was not surprising, so I was thinking I would need to do it, which was interesting as the golf cart was a no no! Luckily Holly and Adam had driven back the night before and so met me in the field as I brought up the dogs from their early morning amble.

Of course the two youngest dogs had never seen snow before, so that was fun to see their reaction. Concern at first and then they loved it. We fed the birds, opening the doors in the hawk walk and feeding the flying birds and then closing them so the snow did not drive in to the birds. When we built them we put in a window into the doors, so they could see out and not be in the dark, which is good for them and nice for us. I am glad that we did because this morning it was much to cold to leave them open - well below freezing. We left the flying owls to see if we could fly them and get some photos.

And we did, Haze (Barn Owl) was somewhat thrown by the first snow she had seen. Hemp was too fat from the Owl evening. Hoxton, Bramly and Orion were brilliant and did not give a damn about the snow. So we decided to invite some of the photographer members to come the following day. Only a few could make it, but I think they got some nice stuff. We did try Drift (Snowy Owl) but he was a little fat, I don't think he minded the snow though.

After the incredibly cold night we just had the ground was very crispy and the places where we had walked the previous two days were very icy. Just goes to show that you should clear paths on the first day before it all freezes.

Rob was rushing around on Monday trying to save flattened plants, I think most will be OK, although we did lose a few branches from trees.

I have to say I hope it is all gone by friday as it will make the Owl Evening tricky if it is still icy. Oh and Adam's lovely big gazebo got flattened and completely ruined and damn me that was the one thing that the insurance did not cover - typical I guess. So I am not sure what we are going to do about that at this point. Still it is nice to have a proper winter again rather than the tepid affairs we have had recently.

Saturday, 9 December 2017
Another trip done, the SAVE meeting was in Bangladesh and we had it on a large boat, or do I mean ship in the Sunderban, which is basically a large mangrove forest opening out into the Bay of Bengal. It was an exhausting time, the flights were through the UAE which means longer in the air and on the ground so sleepless night number one. We had a night to recover before flying down to the nearest airport to the Sunderban and then a 3.5 hours drive over roads that have to be seen to be believed.

We then got shipped to the boat in a smaller motor boat and got into our various cabins by about midnight, then some food (which I can't manage that late). Then to bed, however after the drive and the boat moving and the anchor being incredibly noisy, there was not much sleep to be had. The boats were great although the cabin walls paper thin!

The huge advantage of having a meeting on a boat is that noone can slope off!! The boat moved downriver while we were meeting and then moored for the evening. We had a couple of
early morning trips in the smaller boat to bird watch (LBJ's). The most fun was watching the river dolphins and the Brahminy Kites.

All in all apart from only two nights of sleep in seven nights the meeting went well and much was achieved. And it is a particular pleasure to me to know that the first vultures in Nepal have been released back to the wild. Here is wishing them the best of luck.

But oh boy it was good to be home and I am not going to eat any rice until next September!

Hwever it was pretty damn cold after Bangladesh! We have had two Owl Evenings since, the first, the day after I got back was bitter, the owls did well, all worked but the benches in the flying ground were covered in frost! The later one was much warmer, althoug it looks like the next one will be cold again. I don't mind the cold, its nice to have a proper winter, snow would be even better. I only have one regret, I took up the carpet in my office because it was impossible to keep clean with the dogs, and it is now much colder in here!

Talking of the dogs, Briza was scanned on Monday and she IS pregnant, so puppies on January 2nd next year!

We have also now just finished taking out the leylandii hedge around the play area and the aviary area. It has opened it all up and will once complete look great I hope. Lots to do and not enough days in the year to get it all done!

Sadly our plan to have a good number of disabled vultures to help with their breeding programme from South Africa has been scuppered and we have been let down, a great shame really after everyone's hard work. However we now have other plans and are looking forward to the coming breeding season.


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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