Wednesday 6th February 2013
There was a noteworthy event last week. One of the Buzzards we received a few weeks ago was given the ‘all clear’ by our vet. It fell to me and my regular Friday volunteer Danielle Murphy to release ‘her’. I think it was a ‘her’, as the talons were rather large and heavy boned. I think it was also a youngster, as the eye colour was very light. The eyes on mature individuals tend to darken off to a dark brown. Buzzards tend to be fairly slow in maturing, as they are a long lived bird, up to around 35 years in captivity. As far as I’m aware, the oldest known wild breeding female was 23 years old.
We got the go ahead, and scheduled the release for just after lunch on Friday the 1st of February. We were going to release it at Eskmeals, as there is a glut of rabbits at that site at present. Sometimes it’s not such a good idea to send a bird back where it came from, as that is where the bird had its problem in the first place. We set off at 2pm, only to find that a high tide was coming in fast. Much of the road on the salt marsh was already flooded. I don’t usually go down that road, and in all my time in this part of the world, I have never encountered high tide down there before. I braved the first part of the flooded road, as the van has quite high ground clearance, only to realize that the flooding under the railway bridge would be considerably higher. Prudence being the better part of valour, I promptly reversed back through the rapidly increasing tide, and from the safe vantage of dry land we released the young female Buzzard.
I handed her to Danielle, who, holding her in both hands, cast her into the air. She flew in a straight line, and landed on the hedge around 50 yards away. She then did what I expected her to do; she looked around, orientating herself, then ‘roused’, (shook herself), and took off, flying strongly in a southerly direction, thereby demonstrating how fit she was. This will always be the most satisfying aspect of the work I do here at Muncaster. I have included a picture of Danielle just as she is about to let the bird go. My finger was a little hasty; as I was trying to capture the moment the bird flew free.
Just a little reminder before I sign off. Its half term week at Muncaster as from Saturday the 9th of February, so Muncaster will be fully open to visitors. We will also be doing a static display with some of our birds at 2.30pm daily for the duration of half term week. The flying birds will need a bit more time to be brought back to flying condition, and should be fully flying from the 23rd of March onwards.
See you next week
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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.