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Wednesday 1st October, 2014

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Wulf’s Blog

Wulf

Saturday January 16th 2010

The frost and snow have been and gone... for now!!

What followed, were more flooding. Probably due to snow melt. This morning I needed to do a detour, as the road near Waberthwaite just south of here was impassable to cars, the water was that high. The only reason I noticed it was because a car was stranded in the middle of the flood with it’s warning lights flashing. Otherwise I would have driven straight into the middle of it, no doubt suffering the same fate! There is however something comfortingly normal about this kind of weather, just a little more ‘British’.

On the owl side of things, it seems, our collection has taken things in it’s stride. It almost looks like weather presents owls with ‘opportunity’, rather than ‘obstacles’. This morning, on doing my pen check, I noticed all the Mackinder’s Eagle Owls were in their water dishes, in the pouring rain, having a bath! This was happening in the ‘Breeding Ground’ as well as the ‘Main Display’, so this was no fluke.

At the other extreme, the heavy frost doesn’t appear to have fazed them at all. I have included a photo of ‘Chocolate’ the Eagle Owl, with a ‘noticeable’ layer of hoarfrost on her head. This illustrates how well insulated these birds are, as, if heat were escaping, no frost would be able to form. The photo was taken by Our keeper Vicky Lane.

Chocolate with a layer of hoarfrost    Chocolate with a layer of hoarfrost
Chocolate with ‘notceable’ layer of hoarfrost on her head

Both Vicky and myself were cleaning and disinfecting a Barn Owl nestbox yesterday. We were depositing the dirty nest lining somewhere where the Robins could get at it, as this provides them with a midwinter ‘banquet’. A Barn Owl’s idea of good house keeping is not what you or I might think it should be. In the nest material were hundreds of fly larvae, which is why it is important we clean them out at this time of year, as this interrupts the life cycle of the parasitic ‘hippoboscid’ flatfly. After a minute or two, the robins would appear, to ‘inspect’ our ‘handiwork’, and ‘tuck in’. I suppose that relatively, one of these fly larvae to a Robin must be as big as a ‘whole’ lamb or pork fillet is to us, as, lo and behold, each robin ate his fill and disappeared after eating approximately 5 or 6 larvae. In no time at all, the larvae disappeared leaving nothing but contented robins. With regards cleaning, I call that a team effort.

Wulf
Head Keeper

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