Wednesday January 23rd 2013
What significant snow we had, came and went on Monday. We had around 5 to 10cm. not much by national standards, but significant for the west coast of Cumbria. Once you go east of the western most fells, it’s a different world, but here on the coast we have a micro climate which is very much influenced by the Gulf Stream which flows through the Irish Sea. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we already have some birds that are already thinking about breeding. I have already mentioned the Ashy-faced Owls in the Main Display, but they look like being joined by the White-faced Owls in the Owl Garden, and; ‘Bruce’ and ‘Nialla’; the bottom pair of Mackinder’s Eagle Owls in the Breeding Ground. Having said that, they aren’t often successful when attempting to breed this early.
It’s been quite an eventful week for receiving wild casualties. We received a Tawny Owl over the weekend which had been hit by a car. The people whose car hit came in with it, saying they weren’t going fast when they hit it, but if the owl was doing say 30 miles per hour, then the combined speed on impact may well have been around 60 miles per hour! This kind of event is all too common, and for the people it happened to, unavoidable, and very upsetting. When people bring wildlife casualties in to us it is often very difficult to nurse these animals back to 100% fitness. Unfortunately this is a necessity for birds of prey if they are to survive back in the wild. Tawny Owls are physically very robust, but if they have an ‘Achilles Heel’ it is their eyes. Tawny Owls have very large eyeballs as they are very nocturnal, and need to absorb as much light as they can. They can do this by having extra sensors in the eye, thereby necessitating larger eyeballs. Unfortunately due to the larger mass of a Tawny’s eyeballs, they are very prone to suffering from torn retinas after an impact such as being hit by cars. The result of this is often complete blindness. A bird like that is no longer capable of survival in the wild. You then have to ask the question; ‘can I provide it with a good quality of life in captivity?’ If the answer is ‘no’, you then have to do the kindest thing which is euthanasia. The jury is out as yet on this bird, Fingers crossed. It’s always a high when we are able to successfully reintroduce a bird back to the wild.
We also received a juvenile Hedgehog, which had been found wandering round a local park last week; a sure sign something wasn’t right. It is in the wild life hospital at present, and all being well will be released in April with the others.
See you next week
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