Swifts, Barn Swallows and Martins have all gone. Corvids and starlings are grouping up. Fieldfares and Redwings are eating berries. Leaves are turning a crisp burnt caramel. This can only mean one thing; autumn is officially here. I love the transition of seasons and so do our birds in the Centre.
All of our birds have worked incredibly hard and to their best potential every day throughout the spring and summer in displays, but as with every autumn the weather changes dramatically. Unfortunately this weather change has affected Herriot’s flying and he has started moulting his tail feathers which also doesn’t help as his tail is like a sieve. He wasn’t finding the lift he had previously and was really having to work hard to gain height in displays. From a selfish point of view I was hoping he’d be able to make his flying season all the way through to the end of Halloween but he basically told us he was ready for break when he circuited in display, called then sat in a tree. We made the decision to rest him straight after that display and he is now on a well earned chill-out holiday in his aviary getting the finest food every day which will allow him to push those moulting feathers out nicely. If we were to keep him flying up until the end of Halloween it would have been very selfish just so that visitors can see him but most of all would’ve ruined 5 years of his training as he would’ve lost the trained ability to soar and thermal which took him a long time to learn.
Ghillie Dhu the young male Harris’ Hawk that was in training is flying free now; he’s been flying free through the Muncaster woodlands and forest and is doing an absolutely amazing job at it. Harris’ Hawks are renowned for being co-operative hunters in the wild and can fly quite happily in groups. So the other day we introduced Ghillie Dhu to Phoebe our 17 year old Harris’ Hawk. Phoebe has flown with many other hawks in her career so we wasn’t too worried about the introduction. They got on perfectly fine flying around the woods together on hawk walks and today they done their first display together. They even sat quite happily next to each other for a photo and it reminded me of a well known film, see picture below and see what you think!?
The Black Chested Buzzard Eagle I spoke about in the last blog has also come on very well. We decided to stick with the name Pegasus. He was on the creance line for a while but is now flying free and covering good distance for such a young bird. The hardest part of training comes next; teaching Pegasus to turn in the air and come back around from where he took off. This will then teach him to circuit and then eventually over time soar and thermal just like Herriot does in display. It requires a lot of time and patience but he’s already showing great progress and we’re very pleased with him. He is however very noisy and likes to shout a lot and make himself known. Think we may have to supply ear plugs for the staff’s left ears when handling him.