Saturday 4th December 2010
The big freeze continues, this time, again, followed by a partial thaw and a re-freeze, causing everywhere underfoot to be like a skating ring. I said last year when this happened that I hadn’t seen anything like it. I can’t say that this year. It would appear this now par for the course. The roads up to Muncaster were lethal this morning, everywhere coated in ice.
I would like to say that the owls have shrugged all this extreme weather off, and mostly they have. The Ferruginous Pygmy Owls in the Breeding Ground have owlets. I have heard them squeaking in the nest box when mum has come out to collect fresh food. The Indian Eagle Owls are also due now, as are the Ashy-faced Owls in the Main display. These are able to be seen on the webcam on our website, so if you see any owlet activity, send me an E-mail.
We have had a casualty this week however. Our Asian Barred or Cuckoo Owlet in the Owl Garden died, and was found by myself yesterday morning. This owlet came to us after it had been illegally smuggled into this country in a plastic pipe in a suitcase. Many other owls had suffered a similar fate. The Cuckoo Owlet was the only one to survive. She was born in the wild, and having originated in south east Asia, was probably never meant to endure a ‘big freeze’ in northern Europe. We don’t know how old she was when she arrived here, she may have been quite old, as she wasn’t a very good flyer, which is partly the reason why she never went back to the wild. While she was with us, (we know she was female due to her laying an egg), she had the company of a Indian Scops Owl. It would seem she drew comfort from the other owls presence as they could frequently be seen perching together. This was a sad departure, and I only hope her last years were peaceful.
During this week some students from Salford University came to the Owl Centre to film some sequences for a film they are making about the European Eagle Owl. They wanted some flying scenes of Chocolate, who under guidance from Vicky happily obliged. Tony Warburton our honorary President did an interview on film regarding the status of Eagle Owls in the wild in Britain. This was done whilst Chocolate was tethered next to him, so as to give the whole proceeding some added gravitas. The interview was going smoothly and without a hitch when ‘WHAM!’ Chocolate decided she had had enough, and proceeded to use Tony’s head as target practice. He came into the office shortly afterwoods and had to receive treatment. There was a puncture mark less than an eighth of an inch from his eye. He was very lucky not to have lost it! It just goes to show, these are wild animals, not domestic animals, and can be unpredictable. The film crew actually got this on film. I don’t know whether they will use it. We will have to see.
I will leave you with a few pictures of the big freeze here at Muncaster.
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