NEWSLETTER NO 5 SUMMER 2009 Edited by Jemima Parry-Jones MBE
INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR BIRDS OF PREY NEWENT, GLOS, GL18 1JJ EMAIL JPJ@ICBP.ORG PHONE 01531 820286/821581
42 years old on May 21st— hooray!!
A glorious spring……… It really was a glorious spring, although the year started very cold, that was great that is what winter is supposed to be! And at that point all the birds apart from the poor unfortunate Black Breasted Snake Eagle that was left here, were inside so they were comfortable from then on, apart from a few rainy days it has been incredibly dry. Of course the rain has come for a spell now, but its much needed by the trees particularly. The gardens although far more full of weeds than I would like really are not looking bad, and I hope that we will get them completely straight for next year, there is much to do in the winter! I moved over the benches from Eardisland and they have been lovely to sit on in the shade under the huge and very beautiful Turkey Oak that thank goodness has not been damaged. I chatted to a lady sitting there last week and asked if she would like to see the demonstration and she said she was just enjoying sitting enjoying the garden—I was delighted, that is how it should be here. The hot weather meant that we looked for the shade cloth that used to be here to put up in the hawk walk to protect the birds—needless to say it is gone, so we are organising new ones to come with the help of Adam 2 one of our very good work experience people. His dad came up and measured up, so before the very hot summer we are going to have the birds will be safe from the blazing sun! It has been great to see the House Martins back and the Swallows are in at least two of the buildings, we have left the doors open for them. The bats are around, but have not come back in the house yet. There are Gold Finches nesting in the Hawk Walk and plenty of Thrushes around as well.
The Breeding Season I know that Simon is a little disappointed in what we have bred, but considering what the birds have been through in the last four and a half years, and the facts that we moved most of them either in the run up or during the breeding season, and many as yet do not have proper nesting facilities, I think he and they have done amazingly well. The breeding season is always a rollercoaster ride anyway, huge ups when birds lay eggs, huge downs when they are infertile, ups when they hatch, downs when they fail, there are many things that can go wrong in the whole cycle. Add to the normal problems the fact that the birds had had no natural sunlight for two years and many of the egg shells were thin as a result, we really did OK. We have six baby African Peregrines, three of which are coming out soon to join the flying team, four Steppe Eagles and that is without a second clutch I might add, and numerAWAKE! ous owls, most of which are staying to become a part of the flying teams so we can put on great owl evenings in the winter (donâ€™t forget to book up for one later on, they will be every Friday and Saturday from Halloweenâ€”October 29 and 30th until December 18 and 19th before Christmas Eve, they make a great early Christmas celebration). We have also been given a number of new birds, we have three adult Indian Eagle Owls, who are settling, and one baby from ASLEEP AND Dave Bellis who is starting to fly very well. He also gave us a OLDER! lovely pair of Long Eared Owls who have settled well. A young Snowy Owl has just arrived to join us as well. My old bird Moose head Premium was sold along with all the other birds before I came back so this young bird will take his place, I can only hope that Moose head and all the other birds got good homes.
Memberships Please join if you can All our members are very important to us, the more who join the more fun the members evenings will be and the more we can do for you. So please consider joining us on one of the various levels. We have different levels so that you can not only gain more from the membership but also give us more support and I promise the funds are being put to very good use. The highest level at the moment is the Life Founder member and it will only ever happen this year, so there is only six months to go. After December 31st this year, you will never again have the chance to be a Founder Member. Then this special membership will cease and our Founder Members will be an elite group on their own. It is expensive, but a one off and well worth it to both you and us, and to my joy we have some already! I would like to thank those who have joined as members at whatever level and particularly the Founder Members and other higher levels for supporting the Centre in such a very tangible way, it really makes a huge difference. So if anyone else can do it, please look on the website and go for it! The other memberships are slowly creeping up and we are getting wonderful response from those who have joined and are visiting regularly. The atmosphere here is very friendly and family like and those who visit regularly are really enjoying becoming a part of the family. One member has been 11 times already and says that the Tiffin in the cafĂŠ is the best and has taken the recipe!!
Easter and the May Bank holiday These came and went well, everything seemed to work, the birds are all flying well, and we are getting good teams together. We do miss having any Harris Hawks, but a new young bird is close to being old enough to train soon. As I have to have one beef, my very serious one is against the weather forecasters on all the channels of TV. What they donâ€™t seem to realise is the power they have. I was horrified to see on the ITV weather at lunchtime, the Sunday before Easter that they showed a picture of a damp daffodil and forecast an Easter Washout. Tourism is one of our countries most important industries, particularly at the moment in a recession. To come out with that sort of statement particularly as it was completely and utterly wrong, we had lovely weather is so irresponsible that were they accountable I would sue them. They have been blindingly inaccurate on every bank holiday so far and on the late May one cost us and many other people a great deal in terms of visitors because they got it wrong yet again. However Easter was great fun and we had some lovely visitors, and our traditional Easter egg race went off well on
the Sunday morning with the dogs as handicaps!! The wild daffodils are about the only thing that has benefited from
the general neglect of the place and have seeded well and the woodland walk is half full of them now.
Bird Names for 2009…………….
We were late choosing this year, and in fact Miranda Richardson who came to stay for the medieval weekend came up with some excellent options, one of which was chosen for 2009. Each year we choose a theme for the names of the birds—it helps us to remember which year a bird was born in. I missed 2007 because I was in SC and not allowed to fly any of my birds. 2008 we had a very few because of the temporary housing and that was motorbike makes—chosen by Martin Flamank our vet in Herefordshire. This year we put the chosen themes down on paper and into a hat, however the one that won did not get chosen because the consensus was famous Race Horses. So that is the theme for this year—I have told everyone that if they choose a double name there is to be no shortening, it has to be the full name We have started with the owls that are now flying—the Asian Brown Wood Owl who is a sweetie is called Woodland Venture—1967 Cheltenham Gold Cup! The names for the Derby winners go back to 1780!! And one of them is Assassin which I have bagged for something, not sure what as yet! The other birds so far are Sun Star, Papyrus, Cool Ground, and Yate, with more to come!!
STAFF, WORK EXPERIENCE PUPILS AND VOLUNTEERS
Additions a n d changes. I started off the year w i t h Simon, the best of staff, who h a s worked unfailingly hard since he arrived. He is finally in one of the flats although rumour has it that his sister does not approve of the colour he used in the living room and is going to sort it out for him! Mick who joined a little later has now got many of his old customers back in his building work and has gone back to earning a real living for a change—£10 a week and all the rats you can eat is not good wages really. Holly joined us in March she has a degree in biology and lives locally which is great. She has been a pleasure to have on the team. She has trained a number of the birds here now, and her Indian Eagle Owl is
called Tyrant. She is getting the hang of lure swinging as well, thanks to Shanny and Topaz who are teaching her! Adam is a wildlife artist who joined us last, at the beginning of May. He has some experience with the public and flying birds, although mainly with owls and hawks. Falcons, kites and Eagles are new to him, but he has done a good job on Borax the Black Kite. He also makes a great cocktail, although his idea of a mojito is awful! Other than these three full time staff, we have had real help from Christa and Kathy from the National Aviary in the US, Joan and Esmee from an animal care college in Holland, Berunt also from Holland, Adam 2, and Camilla from more locally. All of these have been here for three to five weeks on Work Experiences and that has been really helpful to us as well as I hope to them. Needless to say we would not be able to get any of the moving forward done without the amazing people who have volunteered. The improvements happen almost daily and each move forward is really a victory for them as well as us. Clean baths, cleared paths, weeded beds, painted sign posts, clad buildings, more magnolia paint and more black stain, but the results speak for themselves. As more of them show their loyalty in coming regularly they are starting to help with the birds which in turn helps the birds and us. We are working on a volunteer manual which with the help of Robin Pote and Adam, with some input from me and also Linda Flanagan from North Carolina, we hope that it will really help volunteers and encourage them in the future. There are many more things we would like to be doing in terms of training but there are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. But it will all happen in time, I just have to be patient grrrrrrrr!!! I think that once the winter comes we will have a great deal more time to get jobs and training done well, I plan to be up to scratch before February 2010 with as much as we can manage in the time frame.
New guidebook and leaflets are now out, and we redid the map of the Centre to make it easier for people to find where they are. I made a mistake with the leaflet and went for the classy look, with dark lettering which meant that you could not see it properly when it was placed in a leaflet display unit—damn!! So we have changed the lettering to a lighter colour and that seems to be working. The guidebook is OK, I like it although some of the photos have not come out as well as they should have done, I think next time I need to make the photos bigger and the text less, although it’s a hard balance to get right. The shop which was completely bare on my return home is now finally looking like we actually do have a gift shop with gifts—amazing!! I like the owl bookends the best and they have nearly all gone so we are trying to get some more. I would really like to make some more DVD's on training birds but right now we don’t have the finances to fund it, perhaps it will be something that we can look at for next year, what a good idea, more work!! We did our first couple of photographic days in the last month, one on site and one off site, both worked well and people got some stunning photos of the birds and were able to do it quietly away from the rest of the visitors, giving time to get good photos and enjoy the birds and the surroundings. I hope that we will be able to do more. We plan on a special day in the Forest of Dean in the autumn, perhaps with the oldest trees in the forest and our birds, that would be pretty cool, so if you are interested— get in touch!
The Dogs As you can see, we clipped them!! At least three of them. Arabis has a much finer coat (plus she is very vain and would have be horrified to be clipped!). The other three just weren’t losing their coats properly, probably the stress of the last four years of their lives. Michaela used her horse clippers and we did a hunter clip! We left the hair on their legs, the tips of tails and head. The tails because Labs wag a lot and I did not want them to split the ends of their tails because they take for ever to heal. They look a little odd, but are so much more comfortable than before in the warm weather that we have been having. And there is far less dog hair in the house!! What of Aster? I thought and thought about him as he is probably my most beloved dog, and having been away now for nearly a year, and knowing that he would not be settled here with the birds, nor would I have the time to give him the company that he has now, we decided between us, Maggie Ginny and I that it would be kinder to leave him where he is. He is very happy and goes to the beach and the dunes in Norfolk often and has plenty of excellent company and friends. But it means I have lost another dog, and that is another black mark against old baldy in SC and his delightful board of directors. Although I did hear some good news from SC recently, as least good as far as I am concerned! the Chairman of the board of directors for the Bird of Prey Center ‘resigned’ from being in charge of the port authority in SC! He lost one of their biggest contract—nice one! What goes around comes around, Should be interesting to see what comes around for the rest of them!
Continuing Improvements They keep happening! We tackled the old flying aviaries, These were dirty, dark and needed a sort out. So we lined them with the old plywood from the temporary housing at Eardisland, painted them the ever used magnolia paint, stained
the outside with black, Adam found a cheaper make thank goodness, put on Zoo mesh, which makes them so much nicer for the viewing public and the birds and reperched them. Four have been finished, one is left, but we hope to turn that into an extended weighing room during the winter. The difference between the aviaries we have done, and the one left is amazing. We have painted all the sign posts the same black which looks nice and clean and started on the outside of Barn 4. The gardens have had some weeding, its hard to keep up with that and everything else. The treads on the stairs up to the flats are being slowly replaced as they are pretty awful. The four aviaries on the far side of the tiny owls should be completed today! We have new shelf perches up in the indoor Hawk Walk for the winter and they are going up in the outdoor one as well. Best news we have the new roof for the small falcon block which looks dreadful at the moment. That will be done soon with new walls where they have been stupidly removed (they were structural!!!) All cleaned and painted inside and out, Zoomesh on the front, new bath shelves, perches and nest ledges, it will look great, but will take a while I suspect.
Medieval Weekend We teamed up with a group called History Through Performance and put on a medieval weekend on the second bank holiday in May. It was boiling hot on the first day!!! Was the chap in the armour meltingâ€”yup!! However we had a good few visitors and the day went well. The Monday was not as good because the flaming weather men forecast storms and thunder and were wrong as usual, but it did impact on visitor numbers. However all in all it was fun to do. We have decided to do a different weekend next yearâ€”falconry through the ages which will be great fun and which we will be researching through the winter months so we can get it right. I would like to involve some other falconers which would open up the weekend as well. The birds did brilliantly and Miranda Richardson came down and was with us for both days, she did some flying and helped with feeding and training some of the baby owls as well, a bonus for us. Thanks Miranda.
Raptor Management for Health and Longevity Course With incredible generosity Neil Forbes ran a one day course for us here in May. These courses are popular with the raptor keeping fraternity as they give an insight into the potential problems that captive birds of prey and owls can face and give the owner the chance to either avoid them happening, or recognise the problems and act quickly, thus saving lives, time and often funds as well. We ran the course on a Sat, and the attendees had the chance to look round as well, I think some of them even saw a bit of the last demonstration. The education room was used and worked well, although we did find a bat behind the curtains who was a little upset at being disturbed, but to be fair to us, we did not know he was there!! He came back later in the evening as I saw him around the room yesterday. Holly, one of my new staff joined the course and we used one of the birds here who had to put up with being the guinea pig for a short while in the afternoon. All in all the course when well and thank you Neil and partner for doing this for us.
Wish List is still on going
More heavy duty wheel barrows Sofa and chair for staff room Two single beds for staff flat Very sharp scissors!
Book up soon for the Owl evenings, we have a great group of owls and they will start at Halloween and go on to just before Christmas, and they are a super way to see the owls, have a great evening and even do some Christmas shopping. Phone us for detailsâ€Ś.