Thursday, 25 February 2010

Horrible Weather

What a horrible two days it has been. Wet slushy snow, very cold wind, just miserable. Well at least we could get things done inside. The hospital birds were cleaned out, and the hospital disinfected, not that this doesn't happen regularly, just that we can take our time.

The really good news is that the Buzzard with the wounded wing is progressing well. Primary feathers are starting to grow, as well as covert feathers. I just hope the flesh is strong enough to hold them. His wing is starting to look like a wing again, full of "stuble".

I have commented before about how much whiter a Buzzard's underwing appears when there is snow on the ground. I had a real good view today, one of the resident wild Buzzards flew over the centre, riding on the wind. It seemed to take ages to glide over, and I was standing directly underneath, up to my ankles in slush, and dodging huge snowflakes.

The centre now has 43 fans on "Facebook". Not bad considering it has only been on a few weeks.

I just hope we get a break with this weather. No one wants to venture out when it is like this. Luckily, we have had a few education visits to keep the pennies coming in. Never mind, it will soon be Spring ?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A Rewarding Day

Days like this make it all worthwhile. This morning we had a visit from the Kilpatrick School for Children with Special Needs. Although some were wheelchair bound, it was such a good feeling to see their reaction to meeting the birds, especially when they got to see the small owls up close, and were able to touch them. We even persuaded one of the carers to get closer than she wanted, it was worth it in the end. It was a good start to the day.

Coco, the Harris' Hawk, was on duty again on a Hawk Walk. It started cold and overcast, then cleared up to be a pleasant day. Very enjoyable being out in the fresh air in such great countryside. Coco was going like a rocket, as usual. He always lets you know if you are taking too long, we got the odd nudge on the head from his wing.

The "On-Line Shop" has proved to be worth the time taken to set it up. Now, bookings for activities can be made and paid for, instantly. On a few occassions in the past, we have taken bookings in good faith, only to be disappointed when the party does not turn up. This is even more frustrating if we have turned down other parties for that day.

The Education visits are proving very popular. Another two bookings in today for a nursery and a primary school. These are good fun, not only for the kids, but for me and the birds. Again, it is the expression on the faces of the youngsters when they see a real live owl.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Soggy Eagle

I came across this photograph today. It was taken last September at Ross Priory on Loch Lomond, the same day we saw an Osprey flying across the loch about thirty yards away.

I have referred to this photograph as "The Patriotic Eagle".

Back to the present. Another frosty start, frozen pipes for a few hours, eventually we got quite a bit of cleaning done. And again, the girls did the dusting in the office.

The Centre is gaining new friends and fans through "Facebook". We already have a few followers on the Blog, now we are gaining many new "Fans" around the world. The number of visits to the web site is another encouraging sign, if we can translate a fraction of those into visitors to the Centre, we should be ok.

Enquiries are coming in for the Gala Day and Agricultural Show season. If all goes well, it should be a busy time.

A word on volunteering. We are always keen to hear from people wishing to volunteer at the centre. Our policy is one of encouraging those interested in bird welfare, or in falconry. The idea behind the volunteer system is one of providing education to those wishing to learn about Birds of Prey, and to illustrate to potential falconers, the amount of knowledge, time, and dedication required, to own and fly a Bird of Prey. In return for providing their time, the volunteers receive instruction and experience, while working with the birds. Many volunteers turn up on the first day, expecting to be handling birds within a few hours. Think again. The first thing volunteers learn is how to clean out properly and disinfect. If they are keen, they will stick with it.

It has been a while

I have been nagged. I have neglected to keep up to date on the blog. I know it has been a while since I last posted. Anyway.

We have had a few visits to Lomond Shores over the last few weeks, as usual, I am always surprised with the reaction of people to our birds. Some know a little about Owls and Birds of Prey, a few know quite a bit, the majority know very little. It pleases me when they depart having been enlightened and educated. The reaction of the kids always brings a smile to my face. The expressions when they are touching an owl, it is like a completely new world to them. Even the parents are caught up in the sense of excitement, (I have caught a few of them out, their mouths wide with amazement when they touch a Barn Owl's head). Then, there is the sight of a Golden Eagle. Few people have seen a Golden Eagle, even fewer have stood right beside one. Orla's size, attitude, and approachability, seem to amaze everyone.

Now is the time to decide which birds are moulting this year, and which ones will fly through the summer. Decisions, decisions. In saying that, there are some birds who are in serious need of new feathers, and some that need a rest.

Talking of moulting, the wild Buzzard taken in last May is moulting well. His feet have healed completely, his wing is now perfect, and the broken feathers litter the bottom of his aviary. Hopefully, another eight to ten weeks will see him released. The Buzzard with the gunshot wound is really improving. The skin and flesh on his wing look really healthy. His wing feathers are growing in, the muscles are functional, the bones are strong and healthy. The wound has healed, and there is no sign of infection. We can only hope there is enough healthy skin and flesh to allow the feathers to be effective when they grow in.