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.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Easter Weekend

Easter already, again. It doesn't seem a year since the last one. Today was a good day. We had a Hawk Walk for two, they certainly enjoyed the experience. And quite a few visitors. Yesterday, we had a family visit, who were very complimentary about the centre. "The best one I have seen". It brought a lump to my throat, I think people recognise the passion that we have for the birds, and the standard of care they get. It is very rewarding when we get comments like that.

The pens are looking much better with the fresh sand in them. The spare pen has been painted on the inside, it looks better, albeit, see-through paint, with the wood pattern showing. It actually looks very good. I got the van washed as well, badly needed. Now that the sun is appearing on a regular basis, and the frost seems to be receeding, we can get the birds bathed on a more regular basis. Some of them love it, some tolerate the water, and some hate it , those are the ones that get a shower.

Here's hoping the weather holds and encourages visitors to come in. This is the official start to our season, and gives us a good idea of how the year will go. Fingers crossed, after such a dismal Autumn and Winter, I think we all need a spell of good weather. The birds need it too. We can now select the birds we will fly through the summer, although, it looks like a small number due to the start of the moult. So far, Orla is still intact feather-wise, and looks as if she will be one of the summer flying birds.