There’s a lot happening at the centre at the moment despite the fact that we’ve been closed to the public for our winter break for over a month. As I’ve mentioned before winter is the time to get all the jobs done we can’t do easily when we have visitors around and the biggest is the work we’re doing to renovate and improve the area beyond the wall. Last year half of this space was transformed from a very old collection of unserviceable aviaries into a second flying arena which enabled us to have two completely different demonstrations daily throughout the main season.  The next job is the other half of that space. Again this involved initially collapsing the old owl aviaries and clearing the ground ready for work. It’s fair to say this has been a team effort with members of the gardening team working their socks off to get the space clear.

You can already see the massive amounts of progress that’s being made. Renovations are also taking place on the old wall whilst we’ve got the chance which is why the scaffolding has gone up – much to the annoyance of Sage the Tawny Owl who has moved aviary whilst the work goes on. The building work is towards new aviaries in which to house both our current team (the tethered birds need somewhere to moult their feathers when on rest) and to house some new additions hopefully next year. I’ll leave what that might be to your imagination but that end aviary (work pictured right) is pretty big! Whilst this has been going on we’ve been fairly lucky with the weather too when you compare it to the dreadful conditions we had last year with all the flooding that happened in Cumbria. Here’s a shot of Conan enjoying a bit of sunshine whilst out to weather last week.

Our final Owls by Moonlight evening went very well indeed. All the birds flew so well and our feedback has been brilliant. Hopefully the team will be able to do something similar next year although how we top the flying demos I’m not sure and, as there were some leftovers I got to ‘sample’, the food was pretty good too!

Above – a couple of cheeky vultures. MightyMite and Moriarty are glad to be getting plenty of grub over the winter. As many of you know, winter is also the time that all our birds get a rest too. We haven’t flown any birds since 23rd December and it’s only now that we’re thinking of bringing the birds back down in weight (we feed them plenty over the harshest part of the winter) and flying again. With opening during the February half term the team will need to be ready for that. This is not too tricky as we are lucky to have surely the most ‘professional’ team of birds anyone could wish for it won’t take long for them to get back into the swing of things. When the flying displays do return we’ll be flying just once each day in the Old Rose Garden until the start of the main season on 26th March.