Sunday, 23 May 2010

Warm Weather

Well, I suppose everyone is aware it has been really hot. We have made sure all the birds have access to baths and fresh water all the time. The main problem with the heat are the flies, bluebottles in particular. We have to be super effective when cleaning out, the little blighters can detect the smallest amount of food. Before you know where you are, you have maggots. Touch-wood, we are always on top of the cleaning, I can't remember the last time any unwelcome little guests were found in any of the bird accommodation.

Orla always enjoys a bath. She was like a little kid the other day. She would stand on the grass, jump in the bath, run through, and jump out the other side. When she is serious, she washes her rear end first, then each shoulder, ducking her head in between times. The water ends up everywhere. She has taken to gardening, spiking the grass with her talons.

Teigan is still the same. I keep checking her closely every day.

We had a reasonable weekend, could have been busier. I suspect everyone was out at the loch side, enjoying picnics and barbeques. Here's hoping for a busy bank holiday weekend.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Here we go again !!

If any of you saw our spot on STV's "The Hour", you will remember the focus was on the illegal killing of Birds of Prey. In the last week alone, there appears to have been two major poisoning incidents. If you follow this link, you will read more. Bird of Prey Killings .

It sickens me that the ignorant and uneducated in this country give themselves the right to play God over other occupants of the world we live in. The infamous RSPB don't seem to be able to do anything about it, the police forces seem to pay it lip service, and the public in general, are not aware what goes on. Don't get me wrong, the wardens and men and women on the front line of the RSPB are dedicated and hard working. The heirarchy on the other hand, seem only intent on walking the politically correct path. The organisation may not be toothless yet, however the teeth are definitely well worn. It seems more and more members are losing heart and deserting. Instead of advocating the benefits of building wind farms to slaughter large birds of prey, they should focus on the reasons they were conceived, and get back to basics.

We had our "Visit Scotland" audit today. It seems to have gone ok, we will soon find out when the report comes in. It is interesting that we can never be more than a three star visitor attraction, this is due to "no cafeteria", and "no public toilets". However, a large establishment like Blair Drummond Safari Park, is only a three star visitor attraction. We must be doing something right.

Teigan, the Indian Eagle Owl is still alert and active, however, the mass in her abdomen appears larger. I check her every day, to make sure she is not suffering. I just hope I know her well enough to recognise when to stop her suffering.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Not a good day

Teigan, our female Indian Eagle Owl, was sitting on her knees this morning. Not content, I lifted her and gave her the "once over". Her brood patch is bald anyway, but there was something else there, small lumps and what looked like a swollen abdomen. I made an appointment with the vet and took her in this afternoon. Sad to say, the lumps are tumours, and there is a mass in her stomach. Devastating is not the word. The advice from the vet is to let her be just now, she seems bright enough otherwise. We have to watch her closely, any sign of distress, I will take her in for the inevitable conclusion. We have no idea how long she has, it could be months. It is not a period I am looking forward to.

Small problem in comparison. A poor day with visitors, and to cap it all, we were passed a fake £20 note, Bank of England. Not a lot of money I know, half of the days takings though. So, a trip to the police station after we closed, they will send the note to the Met. in London for further investigation. I must get one of those pens.

Monday, 3 May 2010

A busy day

Bank Holiday Monday, I could do with them every day. Today was our busiest day ever for visitors. By comparison to other larger Bird of Prey & Falconry Centres, our expectations are fairly modest, I hope today was an indicator of how the rest of the year will be. I attended a Youth Project in Helensburgh, over 200 kids registered, a busy little afternoon. The show of Owls went down well, Mozart being the star of the show, again.

On Saturday we were at Neilston Agricultural Show. It is always good to go back to a venue and get feedback. We saw a lot of people who attended last year and wanted to come to the show to see the birds again. The weather was disappointing, windy, cold, and occassional showers. It was a busy day though, with crowds at our display most of the day. Orla dropped a primary feather from her left wing, adjacent to the feather she lost in October (which is growing in), so she has a gap.

There are feathers everywhere. Moulting is well under way. I might get lucky and manage to keep Coco flying. It seems that he draws the short straw every year, Rolf being the lucky one who gets to moult at the normal time. Coco will have to wait until August again.

Not long now until we release the wild Buzzards. If the weather and food supply keep improving, they should go in the next few weeks.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Health & Hormones

This time of year always amazes me. Between the moult and the breeding season starting, it is fascinating to watch the change in the attitude of the birds. Oscar, the Barn owl, has become vocal, as usual. Aggro, the Red-tailed Hawk, has started playing with the knot on her leash, again. Orla, the Golden Eagle, has started getting jealous, and wants attention all the time. Kalinka, the Ferruginous Eagle, also wants attention, and has started showing her aggressive side. She caught me just below the eye with her beak on Sunday, it could have been an awful lot worse.

On the other hand, medically, everyone is improving. Luca, the Steppe Eagle, had a bad case of bumblefoot, an infection in the feet caused by him standing on a sharp branch stub on his perch, not just one foot, both. Both feet have improved a lot in the last week, so much so, I have removed the bandage from his left foot. Bernie, the Tawny Owl, had a set-to with a wild Tawny on the roof of his aviary, the wild one caught his foot through the mesh and left a nasty scrape. That has completely healed, I had to check the medical notes to make sure I was looking at the correct foot, which was the right one, by the way.

The two wild buzzards are moulting well, almost finished and ready for training. That will ensure they are fit for release. Ben, the "wild retained", Long-eared Owl, had his routine maintenance the other day. We have to trim his beak regularly to make sure it doesn't twist the upper mandible. He is the Owl that was brought in five years ago with a broken beak. Sabre, the Goshawk, has had her beak trimmed too. The beak was lop-sided when we got her, gradually, we have managed to trim it back to almost the correct shape.

There are feathers flying, (pardon the pun), all over the place. Looks like we will have few flying birds during the summer. So far, fingers crossed, Orla has not started moulting.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Improving weather ?

Well, the weather has improved. Though the forecast for the end of the weekend doesn't look good. Visitor numbers are slowly catching up on last year, thank goodness, it has been a very, very, long winter. Unfortunately, even when visitors don't turn up, the bills do.

This has been a frustrating, yet rewarding week. I found out, that due to some idiot in the EU administration miscalling Indian Eagle Owls, (The scientific name is Bubo bengalensis, the idiot called them Bubo bubo bengalensis. Because Bubo bubo is a European Eagle Owl, the Indian has been read as a sub-species of the European Eagle Owl). How bloody stupid is that. They come from totally different continents. Because of this, "Animal Health", (DEFRA), are required to have all the Indian Eagle Owls used for commercial purposes in Britain, registered. Typical EU stupidity. Needless to say, I have had to submit my applications already, just to stay legal.

The rewards came from the birds in rehab. The one-eyed Tawny Owl has been moved into an aviary. Already he is managing to fly from perch to perch, eat all his food, and perch quite happily. The buzzard that was shot has also been moved to an aviary. He too is managing to fly up to high perches. This is encouraging, as I wasn't sure if the new flesh and feathers in his wing were stable enough. The long-term inmate, (the other buzzard), has almost finished moulting, he looks great, new primary wing feathers and a new tail. Looks like it could be a double release. Finges crossed for them both.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

This Weather

What a day ! Heavy rain, strong winds, just miserable. Not one brave soul ventured our way. A quick hand clean and removal of leftover food, and that was it. We ended up with pools of water on the paths, quite deep in places, luckily, the new sand is deep enough to prevent the water rising into the weathering pens.

We were due at Lomond Shores today, I cancelled that. I don't think the birds would have enjoyed it, me even less. Hopefully the weather will improve before Thursday, when we are due back there. The forecast says warmer, better weather for the end of the week. Excuse me, I have heard it all before. Someone should go and give those climate change experts a good slap. The only true thing about climate change and global warming is that it gives some green energy companies a licence to print money. There is a huge difference between the need for conservation of natural habitat, and, this almighty bandwagon called "Global Warming". Maybe if politicians realised the natural cycle of the earth and climate lasts thousands of years, not just their term in office, there would be less panic. And, by the way, cleanest fuel of them all, nuclear power.

Enough of the political rant. We have a Hawk Walk booked in tomorrow, ground will be sodden, might be dry with no wind, I hope. That is the food finished. I can only hope the truck is on schedule for tomorrow morning.