Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Time Flies

It doesn't seem that long since I wrote the last news. A lot has happened since then. Firstly, our pipes have thawed out, without any bursts, and we have managed to get some serious cleaning done. Unfortunately, the thawing ice has showed just how much work is required to make the bird accommodation waterproof. We carried out repairs to the weathering pens, securing the door retaining boards.

We have attended a few schools and establishments with our education visits and displays, I keep saying how rewarding it is to get such good feedback, and see how much the public enjoy meeting and learning about the birds. As well as being out and about, we have had two birthday parties at the centre, both went down well, and the kids loved being so close to the owls.

Sadly, the wild Buzzard with the damaged eye had to be put to sleep. An infection in his chest was causing breathing problems which steadily became worse. Despite the best attention of ourselves and the vet, the only humane thing to do was to end his discomfort.

I am looking forward to longer hours of daylight, and warmer weather. There is so much to be done to get the centre looking it's best, and to get the birds in the best of condition. Tons of sand, and gallons of paint, together with lots of branches and wood. New flags, bow perches to refurbish, hospital to paint, classroom to fit out, it all adds up to a very busy year ahead.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Tropical Day

What a change in the temperature. It must have been a few degrees above freezing today, it seemed like the tropics. I didn't even need a jacket. With the "warmer" weather, I managed to get quite a lot done. I hand cleaned almost all of the birds, aviaries and weathering pens. Although, the frozen ground makes it impossible to lift all of the mess as it is solid. All of the hospital birds were cleaned out, treated, and medicine dispensed. The bins were emptied, skip tidied, and food readied for tomorrow. The weathering pen doors were off for about four hours today, until the snow started again. We had about two inches last night, no idea if we will get any tonight.

Jinty, the Saker falcon, went on a complete strop. She's been really calm lately, however, she just didn't want me in the pen today, and decided to try and fly over me, catching the side of my face in the process. Just a small scar, it could have been a lot worse.

Everybody seems to help the garden birds during cold weather, no one seems to care about the Birds of Prey. I don't suppose the public are willing to leave the odd half rabbit, mouse, hamster or vole lying out in their back garden ? In weather like this, they are really suffering, becoming more desperate. They are taking greater risks to get food, especially what little road kill there is. This is leading to more and more becoming the victim of collisions with cars.

We participated in a teacher conference at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow on Thursday. The "Leonardo Effect", how to integrate Art and Science into the curriculum, demonstrating the synergy between the two subjects. The conference used "Flight" as the introductory phase, using Leonardo Di Vinci's obsession with flying to illustrate how he used Art and Science to further his ideas. The principal of the project is to make learning more enjoyable, and to allow the children to use their creative skills to learn more.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Cold Weather

This is us into our fourth week without running water, and our third week of constant sub-zero temperatures. It is very difficult to do any serious cleaning as the ground is solid, and there is always a danger of the water causing the pen doors, perches, and walls, to freeze. We can't even give the birds a bath. The paths and entrance way are covered in frozen snow, we have to be careful when the few visitors we have come in.

We have pushed the weight of the birds up as the weather is so cold, so, no flying just now. It gives us a chance to get other things done, like making leather and leashes, and catching up on paperwork and documentation.

The hospital is full just now so a lot of care and attention being given to the patients. One shot Buzzard, one Buzzard that had badly infected feet and damaged wing, one Buzzard we picked up last week with a damaged eye caused by a collision with a car, not too serious though, he should go back next week, weather permitting. The Tawny Owl that lost an eye, and the Sparrowhawk with the broken wing will both be adopted by us, they are on antibiotics to ensure infection doesn't set in.

I was gobsmacked this afternoon. We normally have three wild Buzzards flying around or over the centre. This afternoon, one of them landed on one of the flagpoles, right above the Golden Eagle, luckily she didn't see it. As if that wasn't enough, I witnessed three Buzzards attacking each other, presumably the resident pair and an intruder. I couldn't believe how aggressive they were. They are obviously suffering because of the weather, with very little to eat.