Saturday February 27th 2010
The weather improved dramatically during midweek. It started out as midwinter, and ended up as early Spring. The collection certainly thought so. I had to compile as list of our early breeders, and it ended up a bit longer than I realised. We have, at present, 14 species showing signs of breeding behaviour, if not already on eggs, and this is not even counting the Indian Eagle Owls which have already bred.
We had a bit of trouble with webcams on the website, two of them weren’t working. This was probably something to do with the BBC. After contacting them, the problem seems to have been rectified, with the result being that the African Spotted Eagle Owls are on display again. The female has been incubating eggs since the 2nd of February 2010, and if my calculations are correct, they are due to hatch at around the 3rd of March 2010. The female will brood her owlets for a few weeks, so not a lot will be visible on the webcam for a while, but after that it should get quite interesting, so I would keep an eye on this particular webcam if I were you. The Great Greys, who’s nest basket is also on display, are showing signs of being in a ‘breeding mind’, and should, in the next month, be ‘putting on a show’, for the webcam. their owlets are particularly ‘photogenic’.
The duckpond has now undergone a startling transformation. Murray the resident forester has taken a lot of trees down, which will let in a lot more sunlight, and thereby allow more wildflowers to flourish. I had a conversation with Hilary yesterday, and we are both excited by the possible dormant wildflower seedbase which might already be present. There is a nice patch of ‘Ragged Robin’ and ‘Cuckoo Flower’ which we already know about. Rather than ‘blast’ everything with herbicide, we will see what ‘sprouts’ before doing anything drastic.
I managed to make a new open fronted nestbox for our new pair of ‘Magellan Horned Owls’ in the Breeding ground this week. This is at present maybe a trifle optimistic, but you never know.
The Spectacled Owls also have a new nestbox, which might encourage them to breed this year.
The flying bird’s training regime is also paying dividends now, as both ‘Tythe’ the White-breasted Barn Owl, and ‘Mortimer’ the Common buzzard are both flying again.
Both are flying to the fist, which is encouraging. I took Mortimer out yesterday, only to find that she was sporting a ‘dodgy’ hairstyle. She, being a Buzzard, probably thinks this is perfectly okay, especially as she has an ‘eagle sized’ attitude; the feathers on the back of her her head were ‘pushed up’ into a kind of crest, no doubt caused by the prolonged wet weather we had yesterday. This was reminiscent of the crest on a ‘Harpy Eagle’s’ head, which just so happens to be one of the largest eagles in the world. I am sure Mortimer will approve!
I have had one or two queries about Mortimer last week, as we were doing a static ‘Meet The Birds’, she being the least adopted bird in the collection. I would like to remind you that you can be ‘Mortimer’s Friend’ for £10. All being well, she will be doing her ‘malevolent chicken’ routine again, next time you visit.
We also started using our new digital cameras and printers for the half term week. Visitors who had their photos taken with ‘Tythe’ were very impressed. Hopefully this new technology will be a big success for the coming visitor season.
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