December 19th 2009
This last week has been, (for Chocolate, Andy and myself), quite eventful. It turns out that Andy our manager of operations, has been in contact with Metro Radio over in Newcastle, proposing we do a Feature on their ‘Night owls’ night time broadcast. This proposal was welcomed with open arms. The idea being that we do an interview including an ‘owl ambassador’ which would feature on their webcam broadcast on their website. I was the only person mad enough to go along with Andy’s idea, as this involved a sleepless night. This was also Chocolate’s first major engagement away from the centre. We set of from Muncaster at around 3.30 pm so as to give ourselves plenty of time to find Metro Radio. Andy had several attempts at finding the route on the internet, but each time ‘Pilgrim Street’ in Newcastle wasn’t recognised. Eventually he found a usable route plan. Getting across to Newcastle was straight forward. It was only in the city centre that the directions became ‘clear as mud’. We found Metro Radio easily enough, except it is in the middle of a roundabout!
I must however backtrack first, and describe the breathtaking ‘cityscape’ all around us, as the vast urban sprawl was illuminated into a stark futuristic beauty against the backdrop of the winter night. Never more so than when we drove over the Tyne Bridge just before we got to our destination. We went round Metro Radio, (as one would round a roundabout). Looking for an entrance. Nothing became immediately apparent. We reasoned that as we could see that Metro Radio had, incorporated within, a multi-storey car park, that we should be able to find an entrance. Andy pulled up, (in the middle of the roundabout), on some yellow lines and sent me out to look for an entrance, while he waited where he was with the van.
He waited for ‘quite a while’, as I, having successfully located ‘a point of entry’ I now tried ringing a doorbell to announce our presence, to no avail, as nobody was sat on reception! Andy in the meantime is parked illegally in the middle of the roundabout, in a van which to put it lightly, is ‘not inconspicuous’ with it’s massive owl eyes on the back, and police cars are driving by almost every minute, ‘taking no notice whatsoever’. Police in Newcastle obviously have other priorities. Just as well for us! Eventually Andy rang a mobile number, and Paul Elliot; Andy’s contact, and ‘Night owls’ producer, came out to meet us. Apparently without his contact number we would not have gotten in. Paul jumped into the van and took us round a warren of underpasses to the entrance of their car park, which was like Fort Knox.
Once inside we were welcomed by Alan Robson the DJ who was hosting Night Owls, and then we went to the hospitality suite which featured tea making facilities, a pool table, and for some reason, a drum kit. We whiled the time away waiting for our slot on the show which was the 10.30-11.00 pm part. Having lived in the wilder parts of Britain for two decades or more, I have to say I felt like a fish out of water and consequently not a little apprehensive. Andy, (to me at least), appeared to be ‘on home turf’, and in his element.
He came along during the interview and was ready to jump in in case I ‘dried up’ during the broadcast, which I’m happy to say never happened. I suppose years of doing ‘Meet The Birds’ has given me some relevant experience.
Chocolate on the other hand, was a complete star, and didn’t seem fazed at all. She even ‘performed’ for Alan Robson by ‘chewing’ on my fingers while he gazed on in morbid
fascination. She showed off her wingspan on the web cam, which can be seen on metroradio.co.uk apparently there
has been feedback from as far afield as Australia, which means that Andy’s aim to raise the profile of the trust has in this first instance been very successful.
Note: The link has been now removed by Metro Radio
On a different subject, the Indian Eagle owls in the Breeding Ground have definitely hatched, as I have heard owlet noises coming from the box as the male has gone in with food. Good news!
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|World Owl Trust
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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.