Saturday 23rd April 2011
It’s been quite an eventful week. On Tuesday the 19th of April we held our first ‘World Owl Day’, an event highlighting owl conservation with events throughout the day aimed at engaging the public such as talks in Barn Owl conservation and pellet dissection. The weather couldn’t have been better, which no doubt contributed to the success of the day. This day really was a staff effort with everybody contributing, from part time staff to volunteers as well as the full time ‘Owl Centre Regulars’ such as Michelle and Vicky.
On the livestock side of things, there are as yet no developments I can report on. We are once again at the ‘crux’ where the new year has yet to reveal it’s full potential. I thought I heard a faint owlet call from the Indian Eagle Owls in the Breeding Ground, but I couldn’t be certain. What I am sure about is the fact that extra food is being consumed. The same goes for the Southern Horned Owls in BG15. Not only are they consuming a morning feed, but whenever I feed them the female comes shooting out of the box like a striking Cobra and descends on the feed table like a ton of bricks. These are encouraging signs, but I haven’t had a positive sighting of an owlet as yet, with the exception of the White-faced Owls in the Owl Garden who have had three already.
Much of the inhabitants at the Centre are fiercely territorial at present. This means you don’t always know what awaits you when you first go into an aviary in the morning during the A.M. clean. This happened to me earlier this week when I entered the aviary of the Greyish Eagle Owls in the Main Display. I was doing my usual cleaning routine when WHAM! One of them hit me in the side of the head. I was lucky in that I was wearing my hat, (made of kangaroo hide; a much used material for falconry gloves), which deflected much of the force. I have been going in with these owls for years without incident. This goes to show just how unpredictable wild creatures can be. This reminds me of my very first owl experience here at the Centre. It was mid February 1996. The very first owl aviary I ever entered was this very same aviary. I went in with Mark Stevenson the erstwhile Head keeper. We were laying gravel in the Snowy Owl pen, and the entrance lies through the Greyish Eagle Owls» enclosure. I was looking across at this Greyish Eagle Owl individual, (known as Abyssinian Eagle Owls back then), and noticed the coal black eyes with an unmistakable ‘bad intent’, together with the arched wings, I remember pondering the wisdom of my involvement with this venture. This individual was known as ‘Hissing Sid’ back then; known as ‘Warty’ now. Well, it so happens it was Hissing Sid/Warty who bopped me on the head this week. He had waited 15 years before putting his intent into action.
Thursday was quite a significant day, as after a winter of worrying, I finally managed to release my two ‘spiky delinquent Hedgehogs’ back into the wild. I wasn’t certain they had made it through the cold snap we had earlier this year. They were both very small. As it happens they were both ‘bouncingly’ healthy, and went back to the wild in an area that is managed under the umbrella of Defra’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme. I have included some pics of their release as well as some of the World Owl Day.
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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.