Because I watch the team of birds fly everyday I am in the immensely privileged position of seeing the small changes. The boosts in confidence the birds gain from seeing more and the progress they make. One such bird, whom I’ve mentioned many many times on my blog, is Herriot our Steppe Eagle. He’s made constant progress (more or less) since we arrived here and with the weather we’ve had over the last 2 weeks he has been nothing more than phenomenal on a few occasions and is rarely less than excellent. To watch him head out into the valley and just rise up on a thermal 200ft over the trees before tucking his wings and stooping is breath taking. If you haven’t watched him fly yet – he’s worth the entrance fee alone on a good day. As you can see from Richard Gillett’s photograph, it’s not just me who’s been proud of Herriot’s flying – we all have!
Our vulture aviary is almost complete now. The current aviary in which the Hooded Vultures are house is totally the wrong shape but has been adequate for the first year. We’ve been working on converting one of the old Eagle Owl aviaries into one better suited for our vultures. It’s had a totally new roof, a new sheltered area which will have a heat lamp and the last thing to do is to change the substrate for shingle and add perches then we’re good to go. They’ll take a day or so to settle in but it should be much nicer for them. I think we’re going to rest the Great Grey Owl in the current vulture aviary – it’s right by the entrance gate to the centre so the resident needs to be pretty steady with dogs and visitors. Ash is that owl!
We’ve had some fabulous photos sent to us via email by a couple of visitors this month (one at the top of this blog from Sheila Ivison). It’s great to see the bird in fairly natural surroundings – they make for the best pictures I findand we’re always trying to find new ways to give the displays ‘moments’. Ashley Smith, our main Jedi and Guru from the Hawk Conservancy Trust, has a fantastic eye for these ‘moments’ so he’s guided us in finding many of ours.
Last month we welcomed Gail onto the team as our seasonal member of staff. It’s been great to have an extra pair of very capable hands and to hear a new voice doing the commentaries – someone fresh and with a different angle on things. I am a particular fan of Gail’s talk on the Wild Heron Feed – she’s so laid back and yet so full of information. The new member to our team has settled in very well and quickly and will I’m sure continue to pick up on our very particular way of operating the displays! The above is Gail with Ash on a very busy Festival day last week. (Photo also from Sheila).