This evening all the dogs were lying around the kitchen, little black bodies, with paws covered in the pink sand from the new gravel coating each pad, turned upwards, Sorrel clasping one of my wellies in her paws, what would life be without them. With their eyes closed, and relaxed and happy, they are a wonderful part of my life.
It has been a relatively shitty day, I took six birds to fly at Dean Close School in Cheltenham, the bloody wind is still with us, so that adds to making a more difficult demonstration. It was not a pleasant place to fly, a tiny arena and very enclosed with trees, however Common was brilliant, you could not fault him, Bay Middleton would not pick up properly, so I took the decision not to fly him as I had a back-up bird (thank goodness) so next came Lambrusco who was brilliant (kite) then Greeves(kestrel) did nice flying and a lovely hover. All the time gulls were stooping at the birds, but as soon as Hare took off about 30 crows came out and dived at him and even hit him.
I flew him one more time than I should have done damn it, and he got driven away by crows and gulls. I finished off with Discovery, who was very good, but as I was on my own I was a little distracted, to say the least.
It took about two hours to get Hare down and Mark kindly came over and helped me, because it was hard work moving from the car park to the school, Hare didn’t want to go anywhere, but the fences meant a long walk each time he moved, followed by a ton of crows and gulls. He came down eventually, and it was good to have him back. So home we went.
The bugger of it is that all the birds flew really well, and they should have been remembered for what they did, but I know that all anyone will remember is that the eagle flew away, although in fact he was driven away by bloody crows, and that leaves a bad taste in ones mouth.
However I had a bottle of champagne left from our 44th birthday, so the taste is going!! And as ever it is great to be home with all birds in their compartments and all well, apart from the fact that (prior to the champers) I reversed the trailer into the oil line to the shop and flat – bugger it! Still the evening it glorious, the lowering sun is leaving long shadows on the lawn, there is still a slight wind and the baby Aplomado Falcon is a sweety.
Well Acer and Angus have gone home, Richard and Janet collected them this afternoon, I have to say although it was fun to have them I realise just how wonderful my lot are as I can have them out all day, wandering around, and I never have to worry about them. Acer and Angus were very pleased to see their proper owners, and went nuts with pleasure. Mine watched in amazement, with Sedge joining in as he was pleased to see Richard, rather vocally so, although I have to say that today they were not that helpful with the gravel laying!! Sorrel and Indigo just stood beneath the dumper and got covered in gravel and Sedge insisted on helping Mike to drive! Later in the day Sorrel took over a supervisory role checking that all was done the way it should have been as you can see by the photo, and she wasn't in the way at all, oh no!
I think we are about half way through putting down the new gravel on the paths and I have to say it looks just wonderful where we have done it, so now all visitors will have to levitate please so as not to spoil it. And any children
scuffing the paths, piling up the gravel or throwing it will be instantly fed to the vultures! Go and use the new Children’s Adventure trail, that will be much more fun and not ruin all our hard work on the paths!
The baby vulture is sort of back with parents, Simon has put it in the nest and it is feeding itself, and has the parents there in the background as it were, so hopefully it will know it is a vulture. The Red Tails have hatched, so things are moving along nicely and I am going to get a baby Great Grey Owl next week, which I am looking forward to training. The baby Tawny Eagle has had to have a name change, Anaconda just did not work, so now she is called Tokara, which is a name that suits her, she is a charming person so far and we are going to see if she would like to join the flying team, if not we will keep her for breeding. Pioneer, (Stellers), is coming on a treat and flying well now and understands and focuses properly, although she still likes to watch Mark the best.
Still almost no rain here, this has to be the driest year I have known, I hope it does not mean that we will have a ton of rain later.
The 150 tons of 6ml to dust is nearly all delivered, D day for putting it down is Monday!! We have to move the larger stone off and spray with weed killer and then the great gravel day begins!! It should make a huge difference to the look of the place as it will pull all the paths together, I am looking forward to it!
The new play area is finished!! It looks wonderful and I hope children will enjoy going round it –we do. Holly has the first timed round at 55 seconds, I am sure Adam will beat it, he is trying to go round on one foot – hopping, but that is what we would expect from Adam.
Having chased Lady Isabel around the flaming country again last weekend, we have decided that as she has started to moult we are going to feed her up and put her in to moult and fly her in the winter when the leaves are gone, we have also grounded Pinotage as she has a couple of broken tail feathers and would benefit from a good moult. Delectable is coming back into work, although first we have to persuade her that the new play area is not in fact a highly dangerous vulture trap!! Pioneer, (Stellers) is doing really well now and much more focused. The baby Tawny Eagle is perfectly lovely manners wise at the moment and a particularly beautiful colour.
We have a Hobby that I am training, which would be easier if it did not hate the dogs and we have retired Storm Force and are training a new Buzzard which I would love to get to soar, we also have a new male Kestrel who was supposed to be in an aviary, but was horrid to Flame so he will have to work instead!
The grass is growing, so are the weeds, the pond is slowly slowly filling up again and the tadpoles are proliferating. I think we have no fish in the pond after the big freeze, so there is nothing to eat the tadpoles, so we will probably have a frog explosion, but I think they are toads as I did not see any frog-spawn in the pond, we will see. And to add to my day Aster has not only eaten a whole 500 gram packet of Joint Aid for dogs so I phoned the company to see if I should worry and they said no, she might have a runny tummy. Well she has made damn sure she will have because then she polished of my plastic bottle of cod liver oil tablets!! That should do the trick! I can't wait to see the kitchen floor in the morning, oh goody!
I had some nicer pictures put on here but bloody google has played around with this programme and now putting photos on is a nightmare - I repeat SOFTWARE PEOPLE are the pits. LEAVE STUFF ALONE WILL YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The trailer has been sign written, it looks good we think, I am very pleased with it, so it matches the Landrover and should look great in the arena at the Bath and West Agricultural Show at the end of this month
Henry is in disgrace, he and I had a big argument about riding up the lane and he won, the only reason I did not fall off is because I got off, but he buggered off down the lane, across the road and into a field where I chased him for several minutes before catching the blighter!! I then rode him and made him trot for ages so he (and I) were knackered by the end of it. We will try the lane again next week when I have time to ride.
We are up to six dogs again temporarily, Acer and Angus are staying for a few days, it seems right to have that number, four is just not right for the Centre! Acer remembers everything and Sedge is delighted to see her, Sorrel is jealous, she is a jealous girl generally. The only down side of six dogs is that I never get a seat on the sofa’s
The play area is coming on a treat, we are really pleased with it, another week and it will be done, then we do another in the top part of the wood, we are getting positively child friendly (but only if they behave). The maze is going to have some eyes soon as well I hope. Angie Davis of PinkFrog has done such a good job on the new guidebook that she and Robin are now going to design the refurbishment of the education room. It will not be complete until the end of the year I suspect because we have a lot to do, but some stuff outside will be done and again more things for children.
The birds have been flying superbly this week, all are coming on a treat, which is really nice. We have a Hobby that has not been settled in the aviary and so I am going to try and fly it, that would be wonderful if it does well as they are superb flyers. Oh and guess what – the Range Rover is back and working!!!! Wonders will never cease!
The two baby Stellers are now both back with their parents and doing well, the two Steppes are back and fine and the one with Mark Kay’s Golden eagle is also doing well. The vultures were not sure about their baby, but we have a plan for it so we can get it parent reared. The two baby Lanners are fine and we await the hatching of other eggs as the spring moves into summer.
And as a final comment, just keep an eye on government because I found it interesting to note that our government was going to (and may still do so if we are not keeping an eye on the ball) sell off OUR forests in International Tree Year!!!
Our little HawkWalk (street!) party went well, there were not many people there, I think most were watching the wedding on TV, however we got busy in the afternoon after most of the initial coverage was over, but it was fun and we drank lots of white wine spritzers.
Saturday was a good day, Adam and I got ready with various birds for the two shows we were doing. I was doing two days at the Falconry Fair, and Adam was doing a demonstration at the North Somerset show, (which went brilliantly I am pleased to report) otherwise it was a quiet but very windy day, oh we did try the baby Griffon Vulture back with its parents, but no joy sadly, so Simon removed it. We also sent one baby Steppes Eagle up to Mark Kay to be reared by his Golden Eagle, which has gone well.
Sunday morning Linda, Holly and I left early for the Falconers Fair with nine birds, to do two demonstrations in the main ring and two demonstrations of coping at the Keizerbrink stand. It was hellish windy, I know everyone is going to prefer Ragley Hall which is the new setting, but actually I prefered Newport (shrops!). Ragley is high and often very windy, as I have flown there before. The first demonstration went well, Hare was absolutely brilliant, Bay Middleton (Harris Hawk) went on the soar over the house and then came back, I am not convinced that many people appreciated what he did. The Kestrel, Greeves was great and so was Karis. The two coping demonstrations went fine, but at the second flying demonstration Hard Tackle literally got blown away, he kept trying to come back, but was chased mercilessly by crows and jackdaws, so he gave up, all the other birds managed well, although the wind was even stronger. So we left the ring and Holly and I went to find Hard Tackle, we tracked him but he would not come down, every time he took off the wind grabbed him and he moved further away. Louise, Lucy and Paul (founder members) stayed around to help but by 7.30 when he finally was in a good place and could have easily come down, he ignored us, so we decided that the needs of the many outweighted the needs of the few and we took the rest of the birds home. The Landrover was behaving oddly and at one point lost power, so when I got home I phoned Richard, who I am glad to say is not dead!! He offered to bring over his Landrover and take mine, so I had a lost eagle, a sick Landrover and to cap it all one of the dogs had thrown up all over the kitchen, the only good thing about it was that which ever one it was had at least chosen a wooden floor and not a carpet! We weighed the birds and fed them and made a plan for Monday.
Linda and Holly stayed the night, and Anabelle joined us at 4.30am as we loaded up and left to get there early to find Hard Tackle. We unhitched the trailer and left Anabelle and Linda to watch the birds and get set up, and Holly and I chased the sodding eagle around the area until he pitched up in the woods on the estate and settled in. Holly stayed with him until 11.30 and then we went back to the show to get the demonstrations done, checking the telemetry every so often. He stayed put until just before the last demonstration and then started to move again, however we had to finish off first. Someone had spotted him in a village called Broom close to the show and driven over, he waited until we finished the demo, which went very well, in fact both did, and we followed him to the village. Hard Tackle then led us a dance all round the village and refused to come down again, even when I put Hare on a perch with food – which is normally a good method. So we drove the rest of the birds home, planning to unload and turn round and come back before dark, because I was sure he was close to getting ready to come down.
As we drove in the gate, a ton of staff and volunteers were waiting for us which was so nice and such a wonderful treat. The birds were unloaded, fed and tucked up, the trailer was cleared and cleaned, the stuff put away and the trailer unhitched and parked up, all in about 20 minutes flat. I really do have the most special staff and volunteers. John, Simon and Mark insisted that they would do the trip back which I have to say I was really relieved about as my left hip was very painful by this point. So all the rest came in for a cuppa while they left. Only ten minutes after they had gone, the phone went and the bloody eagle had come down to a falconer who had come on an experience day only days ago!!! It was such a relief, and really kind of them to help and phone, so the away team collected him and brought him home, the rest all went home, Richard and Janet came over and switched landrovers again and Linda fixed a problem with my computer. All was well with the world – well almost!!! Remember the dog throwing up episode, well I was wrong, it was not just the kitchen floor, as I went into the office we realised that it was also all over the sofa and had dripped in an interesting fashion onto the cream carpet below!!! Ah well, you can’t win them all.
It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.
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An interesting video on Lead
I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................
NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!