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THE NATIONAL BIRDS OF PREY CENTRE NEWSLETTER No 1. JUNE 1997 Editor. Jemima Parry-Jones Director. The National Birds of Prey Centre, Newent, Glos. GL18 1JJ Tel. 01531821581. International ++44 1531 821581. Fax. 01531 821389. Email jemima@nbpc.win-uk.net

WELCOME Firstly I and all my staff would like to welcome you as Members of The National Birds of Prey Centre and to our first newsletter. It will, of necessity, be produced as economically as possible this year, but will improve over time as the membership grows. To start with we will produce two per year, the second one coming out in time to remind you of your subscriptions in December. By joining us, not only are you able to come in free at any time The Dogs Welcome during opening you too! hours, and moreover, take advantage of other events at the Centre, but you also help the Centre with your membership fee. Like any other place involved and working with wildlife, we need all the help we can get, and I thank you for joining and hope you will remain with us for many years to come.

NEWCASTLE’S DISEASE (ALSO KNOWN AS FOWL PEST) You may have seen in the News that there were a number of out-breaks of Newcastle’s Disease in local poultry farms, early this year. This is a disease that affects all birds, is usually lethal and has attached to it a government slaughter policy. So as you can imagine, I was not a happy person on January 6th during all that freezing weather, to get a letter from MAFF (Ministry of agriculture) telling us that we were in a surveillance zone. We could not move birds, do any external work, or even take them to the vet without first getting a license. This actually got worse as, when we were nearly clear of the first batch of outbreaks, and all breathing a very large sigh of relief, a new outbreak occurred just over a mile from us. Then we were very worried and had to deal with even more serious quarantine restrictions including no birds allowed to the vet, which was very traumatic. On the day of the first notification we, with the help of Neil Forbes, our vet, managed to get half the collection vaccinated within eight hours of the notification. The rest of the collection were done the next day. We lost one of our breeding Merlins due to stress, but it was a calculated risk that I took, to protect the collection as a whole. Considering how close the disease got, I am very glad that we did vaccinate. We finally came out of quarantine just before Easter and a very long three months it was. Had any of the birds come down with Newcastle's, MAFF could have insisted on the whole collection being slaughtered. You may not be surprised to hear that I did warn them this would be over my, and possibly several other dead bodies! Luckily for us, it did not come to that and I have to add that the local MAFF team were very helpful.


NEW PENS FOR FLYING

BIRDS

THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY! Yup - we have really been here 30 years. I find that a bit horrifying, as I have been here, with a few breaks, for all of it! We, that is my parents and siblings, plus twelve raptors, two cats, ten pigeons, five dogs, a goat, a donkey and a tame deer fawn moved here in a cold November in 1966. We opened here to the public in May 1967 with about 60 birds. I think it was 2/6d for adults to come in. For those of you who don’t remember old money - that was just under 13p! The few aviaries we had were the typical all wire zoo pens, and when I think how hard it was to look after the birds in them, I am really glad we learned, evolved, and changed them. I took over running the Centre in December 1982, bought it from my Father in 1986 (and again from my ex husband in 1990!) and now I am buying it from the bank! My Father, Phillip Glasier, ran the Centre for 15 years and this year I have achieved 15 years, with more to come in the future I hope!

NEW BUILDINGS Its no good, if I don’t get to play with concrete every so often, I get withdrawal symptoms! So finally, after a long wait, we are rebuilding the Hawk Walk. For those of you who are new to us - that’s the area where the trained, flying birds are kept. Its a good job we are doing it now as another really good storm, and the old one would have fallen over. The new one is going to look absolutely brilliant, though I say it myself - but don’t take my word for it - come in late July and see for yourself.

The lower side is all but done, although not open to see yet. It is timber built with a dark grey tile roof and a red pattern running though it. We are having wire doors for the fronts so the birds can stay out safely at night during the summer. We have also redesigned the barrier between the visitors and the birds - it should look great once the plants grow up over it. It has been a long time coming - but well worth the wait.

NEWS FROM ABROAD VULTURES IN ITALY We have recently heard from Simone Scocciante, a vet student who came here to work with us from Italy. He is now working with the Egyptian Vultures Breeding and Release Programme, funded by WWF. This Centre assisted in the setting up of the breeding programme about four years ago. Simone is delighted as one of the pairs of vultures now has eggs. These have now been moved to a zoo where another exstudent of the Centre - Alberto, who came on our Raptor Biology Course in 1995 - is helping with the incubation. It is really nice to see projects where we have had an input and been involved in training, start to come to fruition.


Worlds Rarest vulture released in new site. Californian Condors, who in the early 80’s were reduced to only 17 individual birds left world wide, have now done so well in captivity a small number have just been released into an area of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The breeding programme for the Condors was originally started in San Diego Wild Animal Park and the LA Zoo. Here both teams of people succeeded brilliantly and raised the numbers to over 80 birds. More recently the Peregrine Fund at Boise Idaho has become involved. The first releases in the Sierra’s where the Condor had it last strong hold (perhaps weak hold would be a better word!) had mixed success. But since then Condors have gone through a training programme before being released; to teach them to keep away from electricity poles and pylons, and away from people who might not have their best interests at heart. Late last year a small number of Californian Condors were released into the Grand Canyon - so if any of you are going that way keep your eyes peeled. What a pleasure it would be to see this enormous bird, flying against such scenery. The old Hawk Walk

PHILIPPINE EAGLE UPDATE We have recently been contacted by both of the groups working with the Philippine Eagle project. Sadly this bird, unlike the Condor is a much harder nut to crack. In the fifteen years the programme has been running only two young have been hatched and reared to adulthood Now they are considering taking some young from the wild. But like so many of these programmes, governments and officials get to have their say. It is being suggested that chicks that are unlikely to survive should be taken. But if you think about it, that is the worst sort of breeding stock to try and save a species with. The very best and strongest young should be used to ensure the survival of this species. We wish them luck in their endeavour and hope that we can help where we can.

BOOKS AND THINGS May ’97 has seen the publication of a new book by Dorling Kindersley. It is called Eye Witness Eagle and features many birds from the Centre. I wrote the text and the photographer spent fourteen days here filming. Almost all of the flying birds can be seen in the book - from Treasure the Secretary Bird, through to Uranium the Burrowing Owl. However the eagles are the stars and there are some cracking flight shots to be seen. Its a great book to have, although sadly the Centre will not benefit from high sales as we were only offered a one off payment, rather than royalties. However we do thank Dorling Kindersley for using us and hope they will do so again. I have another book in the pipeline. I think it will be called ‘Understanding Owls’, its the Publishers who get to choose the titles, not me! It is behind schedule due to a very hard first five months of this year, but will hopefully be back on line when I have got this newsletter out of the way! It covers the biology of owls, breeding and training, is published by David and Charles and should be out sometime next year.


The Hawk and Owl Trust have two new books on their shelves (and we have them too!) ‘In Roads to Birds of Prey’ which is a great pack for kids to use either at school or at home, with lots to do, and the added bonus of users being able to actively assist the Hawk and Owl Trust in their conservation work.

is hell on wheels if you are trying to organise things, so you may be told you have won with little time to spare. Also on that date, what ever it is, we will close the Centre for the day, so if you intend visiting in September - ring first to check which day we are closed.

The other book is on the Long Eared Owl by Derrick Scott, published by The Hawk and Owl Trust. As well as books I am pleased to be able to tell you that we are having a Web site done for us by two students from Birmingham University. I have not seen what they are doing yet, but it should be done and on line before September. I will give you the WWW No. once we have it. SPECIAL EVENTS FOR MEMBERS. We started the year with a lecture in Jan. from Jim Brett of the well known Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania, which is a famous migration route. It was a great success and Jim Brett was quite something! I had hoped to get some other events in the pipeline, but the quarantine for Newcastles Disease put a stop to much in the way of early organising. However there will be a members evening on August 16th, see the enclosed information. We are also hoping to have a special day in September to celebrate our 30th anniversary. As yet I do not know the date as I have asked a Royal visitor to come, and I have to wait and see if they can and when, and we won’t know until July. However, there will be some important guests here and many people who have helped the Centre over the years. I would love to be able to afford to ask you all, but that is not possible. So on the enclosed information will be a form - fill it in and return it and we will have a draw as soon as I know the date and the winner will be invited to the celebrations. Two things to remember. Last time we had a royal visit here I was not given the date until 8 weeks before, which

POOR BREEDING YEAR FOR

1997

This year has been the worst breeding season we have had for a long time. I have lost all but one of the eagle eggs It would be nice to blame the weather, or the Newcastle’s vaccination, stress, a horrendous pile of other projects or anything else I could think of!

But that is not the way I have ever worked. As the director, the responsibility for any of the problems that occur here, lie at my door. I fully admit I have always hated the incubation side of this job its so stressful. I did have help early in the year and we have changed much of our techniques. Sadly this help is not available any more. I am changing more of what we do and the type of incubators we are using, and hope that next year I can get it right On a more cheerful note, I also help other people with hatching eggs (those brave enough to trust me) and we have hatched a very high number of fairly rare Owls for a friend. I usually rear them for the first couple of weeks until they are doing well. I have to say, that with 11 owls, seven falcons and two vultures to feed at midnight tonight and another five owls hatching with more eggs still to come all in all I will be very glad when this breeding season is over!


TRIPS ABROAD You probably don’t know it, but most years I travel abroad for work of some sort of another. Conferences, the odd speaking appearance, Zoo meetings - that sort of thing.

of starting a charity right now. It will not contain the Centre to start with, but at a later date, when it has funds built up, and we know more about the political climate for the next decade, I will eventually put the Centre into the Charity.

Last year I went to Boise Idaho in August for six days. Then to Urbino in Italy where I was organising and chairing one of the sessions, and giving a paper in a session on rehabilitation.

It would be wrong to keep it for myself, after all the work that so many people have done. If in the meantime I come to an untimely end, the charity will be there for the Centre to be left to and to safe guard it and all the work it has done and will do in the future.

I was an International Director for the Raptor Research Foundation for three years and have just been nominated again. Both last year’s conferences were run by this group, who are a really good, hard working group of raptor scientists.

So if you stay members, in the future you may be asked to come to, or help out with fund raising events for the Charity - I hope you will be able to help. If you have any skills or experience that you would be willing to give to us, please let me know.

This year I only have one trip away, thank goodness. One to the US in October for RRF again.

EDUCATION CENTRE

Going to these sort of conferences give the Centre a higher profile and we hope add to its credibility. When I first started to go I was totally unacceptable to groups such as these. As non scientist, a hands on conservationist with a captive collection open to the public, and female as well - I was doomed from the start! However having continued to go and get to know people and get known, I am now more or less accepted. Those scientists who have visited the Centre have always been impressed and pleased with our involvement in their group. So that is why I continue to go. CHARITY STATUS. One question I am often asked is - are we a charity? The answer is no, not at the moment. The danger of turning charitable is that I personally have a great deal to lose. To turn the Centre into a charity means basically I give it away to a group of trustees. Although I am allowed to choose these trustees, nevertheless it would be they who ran this place and were responsible for it - not me. I am allowed to be a paid director, but I could get sacked if the Trustees decided I was not the person for the job. I would also not have any sort of long term security. However there are benefits in being a charity, although these may not be as beneficial with a labour government. I have no one to pass the Centre on to. I have never had children, nor do I regret it. My father had seven children and only one wanted to work with birds of prey - I am damned if I like those odds! But I do need to secure the long term future for the Centre. So where does that leave us. Well we are in the throws

Finally I decided that I was never going to find the time to do the inside of the Education Centre, so I have asked Dr. Ruth Cromie from Christ Church College Canterbury. She has, with help, designed a new display for the Education Centre and I hope it will be up and running by September. With all these new things on the go, if I were you I would come on a visit in the Autumn! Remember anyone who has ideas or who can help - phone me! ODD NOTES We had hoped to have Labrador puppies to greet you this summer. But Daisy went to the dog six times at vast expense and no luck - mind you she bite him on the first three visits! Lupin went once and was so vile to the poor dog I am not surprised nothing happened. The sheep have produced 11 gorgeous lambs, but Wellington the ram had to go, I didn’t mind him beating up the dogs, I could keep them away, I didn’t even mind him knocking me for six, which he did, twice the swine, but he was also horrid to the ewes - so I guess by now someone has eaten him! END NOTES Well there you are, your, our, first Newsletter, all 3162 words of it! I apologise for the contents being solely written by me. That also will change over the years and I will get more important people to write for you. If you have any questions - write or email us. If you have anything you would like to say write or email us! Keep coming to see us, bring lots of rich guests and have a wonderful and happy summer and autumn. I will write again in December. jpj

Newsletter No 1 July 1997  

First newsletter for the National Birds of Prey Centre

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