Another month flown by, another busy one in the Hawk and Owl Centre!
Most small humans will be starting to return to school in a week which means that we’ll start to be a little bit quieter up until Halloween. Now I love flying and working the birds in front of people, watching their faces light up and gripped in awe at the magnificence of the birds, however, this season I’m looking forward to a bit of quiet time. Most visitors have been great this season, however there’s been a select few feral people who have ruined my faith in humans! I don’t want to go on too long with negativity as no one likes a negative person, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around why some visitors feel it’s acceptable when coming into the centre to shout at birds, step over a clearly obvious stand-off barrier to get closer to birds, try to poke birds and even throw rocks and stones at them!!!! Clearly something went wrong with natural selection with these people!!!
Anyway, enough with the negativity; let’s crack open the positivity box!
Reaper has started flying in the ‘Sky Hunters’ display and he’s absolutely cracking. Adrenaline mixed with emotions are at their maximum when flying him; it’s a difficult feeling to describe when flying a falcon but it’s basically just you and the falcon and nothing else matters in that moment, even though 200+ people are watching you. I haven’t felt that connection and buzz since before ASBO our Gyr/Saker falcon passed away last year. Reaper has filled that hole and is definitely a legend in the making!
We have quite a few new additions to the team again, all very exciting.
Emma and Anna have started training a 16 week old male (yes male, haha) Harris’ Hawk. Staying with the mythical creatures theme, he has been named Ghillie Dhu. He is in training to work everything from displays and weddings to Hawk Walks throughout the Muncaster Estate. We still have Phoebe who is the oldest bird on the team at 20 years old, but like any skilled professional it takes time to get to her level, so Ghillie Dhu is the apprentice before he takes over from the master.
Also joining the team is an absolutely stunning Black Chested Buzzard Eagle, which I believe we may name Pegasus! He is just spending some time in an aviary relaxing and maturing a bit before we start to train him in a couple of weeks. Black Chested Buzzard Eagles make great display birds as they’re very buoyant in the air and brilliant at soaring and thermal-ling. Very excited to start training this bird.
As we say, conservation matters at Muncaster and we’ve just become apart of a great conservation program. We’ve teamed up with the Hawk Conservancy Trust to join their International Vulture Breeding Program (IVP). One of the new aviaries was purposely built with the IVP in mind and it now houses two African White-Backed Vultures. Hopefully these two gorgeous vultures will bond and pair up together and breed in the future. The idea behind this being that if (and I hate to say it) they become extinct in the wild, there will be a healthy strong bloodline of African White-Backed Vultures in captivity that eventually could create a release and re-introduction program back into the wild. Muncaster Hawk and Owl Centre are very proud to be apart of a great conservation program that is very close to our hearts!
Herriot, Reaper, Conan and Chip have also filled the new aviaries and they all look very happy indeed.
Birds aside, the Hawk and Owl Centre sees people come and go. George, who started as a member of bird staff at the start of the season, is having his last day at the centre today and we wish him all the best for the future. We have a few new faces starting to volunteer with us as well. Dominic, Mike and Robyn have volunteered with us; they help us out so much from general cleaning, maintenance and gardening to even helping fly some birds. We also still have long term and dedicated Tammy; it’s always great having her in as she knows the routine of the centre and what’s expected and even if she does have full blown conversations with the birds, we still thinks she’s great. So we just wanted to take this opportunity to thank them all for their hard work.
As this blog draws to a close, summer also appears to be at an end at Muncaster too, leaves are starting to fall from trees, the House Martins and Swallows are starting their great migration back to Africa. And I’ve seen Fieldfares flying in flocks around the estate; they often come over from Europe to spend autumn and winter in this country.