It’s amazing how quickly the season is passing. Before long we’ll be back into the summer holidays ‘silly season’ which is just as well as the birds are flying fantastically at the moment. Alongside Herriot (about whom I should probably have a break from raving about – Last week. 600ft up. On a thermal = Awesome!) Conan, our male Peregrine Falcon, has made huge strides to be a highlight of the Sky Hunters display. Although on occasion he likes to skim over the top of visitors heads at such a toe-curlingly low altitude, he also knows how to use the open sky and the wind. He’s been performing some jaw-dropping stoops in the winds this week – something I’d love to see more of.
Unfortunately, we have to report some very sad news this month too. ASBO, a bird that many of our visitors will remember from their visit (once you’ve met him he’s hard to forget), sadly passed away this month. Whilst out flying he disappeared behind the trees at the bottom of the meadow and did not come back around. We tracked him and found him below the trees which was utterly heart-breaking. The post-mortem results point to high cholesterol leading to heart problems, something he’s shown no sign of in the weeks leading to this or ever before in his life – he’s always been incredibly fit and healthy. What a loss he is to Muncaster and to our flying team. I know that I speak for the other falconers as well as myself when I say that we are devastated to have lost him from our team. He was one of the first birds to fly here at the Castle when the Hawk and Owl Centre opened last year and he has been thrilling to watch in displays ever since. It was his character and prowess in the air that I’m sure made him a favourite of many visitors to Muncaster. Our other falcons now have the very hard job of taking over from a bird-legend of our time.
In better news our vultures now have a new aviary. At the foot of the hill opposite the playground lawns, the vultures now have a larger and much better suited home where they have so far enjoyed lots of people-watching. They can now only be viewed from the outside of the centre on the approach to the Owl Garden Tea Room rather than from inside the centre itself. I quite like this – adds an extra dynamic to what you might see on a visit.
Gucci, the Brown Wood Owl, is now back with us too. He had a winter break to the Hawk Conservancy and should be back on the flying team within the next few weeks. He’ll be taking over the reigns from ash, the Great Grey Owl, as he really needs a rest and the chance to moult his feathers in time for our Owls by Moonlight sessions planned for Halloween and the run up to Christmas. Find out more about these sessions.