Wednesday 13th November 2013
It’s been quite an eventful week, one way or another. Firstly, one of my ‘old friends’ just passed away on Saturday the 9th of November. It was ‘Mac’, the male Mackinder’s Eagle Owl chosen to be ‘Cugat’s companion. Cugat is, in all probability the only Ethiopian Eagle Owl in captivity anywhere in the world. Putting a closely related male Mackinder’s Eagle Owl in with her was so she would feel stimulated to lay eggs, in case a suitable male should ever become available. As a ‘disabled’ wildlife casualty she is no longer capable of looking after herself, hence her sojourn here at the World Owl Trust.
When Cugat first came to us in 1996, her and ‘Mac’, who lived in a few aviaries down from her, used to ‘converse’ with each other. The decision was then made to put the two of them together, so Cugat could have some company. They always got on well together, except when it came to feeding time. If a rat was presented, Mac would feel there was a ‘copyright problem’ if Cugat got to the rat first! The same could be said for mice! It got to the point Where Mac would be waiting on the feed table to intercept any choice morsels before Gugat could get at them. If no rats or mice were presented, he would proceed to ‘take all the yokes’ out of the dead day old chicks which form the majority of our collection’s diet. He would end up taking all the food out of your hand! As a character he will be sorely missed.
I have been helping Millie Clarke, our Conservation Officer for the last two days. One of Millie’s jobs is to monitor the local owl population, especially the Barn Owl. For health and safety reasons, somebody has to go with her to hold the ladder so to speak, when she inspects the nest sites.
We went to three sites in and around the Rusland valley in the southern part of the Lake District National Park yesterday. We met a very nice farmer who values the wild life on his farm, who lives at Low Bethecar high up on the fells to the east of Coniston Water. We installed a nest box in one of his barns. I have included a few photos. This morning was quite interesting in that we had to install a ‘shelf’ high up in a barn near Frizington. There is a cavity in the wall, which is now frequented by a breeding pair of Barn Owls. This particular breeding pair had a set back a few months ago, when one of their owlets fell out of the entrance, and suffered a long drop to the ground. This shelf should help avoid this from happening again. It was quite interesting to have to hold the shelf up, and then mark the wall so I could drill it, and then insert the raw plugs! All told, this simple task took around 2 hours! The photo doesn’t tell that particular story!
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.