Tuesday March 6th 2012
The hosepipes were frozen this morning, but despite that, the weather has a definite ‘spring feel’ to it.
I am hoping to get Mortimer the Buzzard on to the front lawn today. I am hoping she is going to be sufficiently interested in the food I will be offering her during her training session. All the other flying birds appear to be making progress. Buzzards however, are notorious for keeping their weight on them.
Michelle and Vicky have finished re-perching the small bird aviaries in the Owl Garden, and the Centre is now ready for the upcoming visitor season.
I was looking round the Centre and Muncaster in general last week, and during a conversation had been referring to things the way they were before the turn of the Millennium. It struck me how much things have changed since then, not only the place, but the faces as well. Of those days, my face is the only one that still remains; more by good luck than good judgement. In those days we didn’t have an Owl Garden. We didn’t have a wildlife hospital. We didn’t have an entrance unit with a disabled ramp. We didn’t have a quarantine/isolation unit. Back in those days we had lots of pens spread about in unlikely places. We used to have pens in the Stable Yard where Creeping Kate’s Kitchen is. We used to keep Spotted Owlets; Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, Little Owls and Burrowing Owls in there, not to mention ‘Georgie’ the then Barn Owl Star of Meet the Birds. We also had ‘Back Pens’ up round where ‘The Dairy’ is. In fact ‘The Dairy’ was part of our exhibits as well. We used to show owl related videos in there, as well as display Herman’s and Spur Thighed Tortoises. Also on display were Harvest Mice and ‘Kerry Spotted Slugs’. In the back of the dairy was a bit of space where we could keep some sick birds, and where we could lay the owl food out to defrost every day. We used to have an Owl Shop where the Nose Bag now is in the Stable Yard. The Keepers used to have their staff room upstairs from the Owl Shop. At the entrance to the Owl Centre there was a winding path which zigzagged up to the exhibits, and where, (for some reason), were some plastic rocks with a little waterfall. There was also a little hide with a black and white monitor in a Barn Owl nest box.
All the aviaries in that bottom right hand corner have now been demolished, and replaced by the massive Eagle Owl aviary. I remember the entrance unit being built. At one stage there was massive hole there, waiting for the foundations, which had filled up with water about 2 or 3 feet deep. When the entrance unit finally got built, it was still filling up with water seeping through the walls. They must have done some massive damp proofing to sort that little problem out. Lastly, we also had a row of pens in the top court yard called the Winter Pens. It was where we would keep our flying birds in the off season. Where the present WOT offices are, used to be the ‘Monkey House’, a remnant of the old zoo that used to be at Muncaster. In fact all the buildings in both court yards were extensively renovated; the only thing that remained the same was the outer walls.
That was all 14 years ago.
See you next week
Click: to E-mail Wulf
|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.