December 5th 2009
I don’t know if anybody has noticed, but the nest sites on cameras displayed on the website are showing off their pre-breeding season overhaul really well; this year we have used wood shavings for lining their nests which have good insulating properties and therefore aid ‘thermo regulation’, or should I say the owl’s ability to incubate their eggs.
By the end of December we will once again be on the count down towards the start of the next season. Time seems to be going quicker every year. In the meantime we have progressed really well with our repair jobs such as re-roofing aviaries, and since the opportunity has arisen due to the fact that Muncaster has felled a large Beech tree nearby, a lot of older perches have been able to be replaced which otherwise might not have taken place for another year or so.
I mentioned about Sparky last week the fact that he had literally been ‘a bit under the weather’, and that he had moved to our hospital for further observation. It turns out since writing the last blog that his dropping have been slightly discoloured. This could possibly have been an indicator of an abdominal infection. He seemed fine otherwise, but just as a precaution David took him to the vet’s on Tuesday the 1st of December. Our vet didn’t find anything obviously amiss with him, but put him on a course of antibiotics for a week. Yesterday when I went into the hospital while Vicky was cleaning, he was perched on top of a cupboard observing the progress of the clean and looking quite at home. The course of medication seems to be agreeing with him. Sparky is on ‘Facebook’, and has many friends. Maybe if anybody feels inclined, they could send him a ‘get well’ message either by E-mail to myself using the link below, or by contacting him on Facebook.
I was lately talking with a few of our trustees about buzzards, which despite being an owl keeper, is a favourite subject of mine. During the first two years I was here, I used to fly a handsome male buzzard by the name of ‘Baldrick’, a bird which incidentally had been adopted by the same actor who had played ‘Baldrick’ in a well known T.V. comedy series. Baldrick, so I was told, wasn’t the ‘sharpest knife in the drawer’; having been illegally obtained in the wild and then confiscated by the R.S.P.C.A., he ended up here at the centre with the brief that we would try to rehabilitate him so he could go back to the wild. The idea was to teach him how to hunt by using a ‘dummy bunny’, and towing this across the lawn on a length of line with a piece of food attached to the bunny as an incentive. The theory was great, except Baldric was petrified of the fluffy bunny. To cut a long story short, this became a feature of ‘Meet The Birds’, and when I took over flying him from Jenny Thurston our erstwhile Chief Executive, I used to tell people how ‘Useless’ he was at hunting. This was okay for the first part of the flying season, but as he became more familiar with his surroundings in front of the castle, his predator’s instinct told exactly where the best opportunities were for potential prey. It was August 1997 and a beautiful sunny day with a large capacity audience; I had just told everybody how useless he was at hunting, when he spotted a blackbird’s nest concealed in the Ivy which at that time grew over much of the castle wall. He darted straight across to the unfortunate nest with quite obvious ‘murderous intent’ in his eyes. He came away with an almost fully grown blackbird fledgling in his talons. The fledgling was squawking for it’s life while Baldrick flew up to the front of the castle roof and while there, proceeded to ‘rip off’ the young bird’s head in front of a horrified crowd of onlookers. I was at this time praying for a big hole to appear which might mercifully swallow me up, when things got even worse; no sooner had he eaten that fledgling when he went and caught another one, and treated the crowd to an encore, by murdering a second one! After this he sat there so engorged that he couldn’t move a muscle and I had to get a ladder to retrieve him from the roof. Needless to say we didn’t get many members that day!
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|World Owl Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1107529
Limited Company Number: 5296745
The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.