I’m so excited about the last thing that happened in my day at work today that I’m going to work backwards in time, from the end to the beginning. Follow me if you can…
A heavy shower provided the perfect demonstration of the Rainforest Realm in action! The dripping water from the irrigation system was augmented by real raindrops filtered into the front of the aviaries by the elaborate roof, and the sight and sound just made the illusion complete; we could have been seeing these owls out there in the tropical rainforests in which they live in the wild!
And a great thing about all of this was that neither we nor the owls were getting wet!
It was really satisfying to see the owls in their proper pens after so long waiting for the aviaries to be built. The months of planning, the weeks the joiners spent on the structure and the ingenious roof, the hours spent putting up perches and wheelbarrow loads of wood chip on the floor, the irrigation system… and it all paid off to see the Rainforest Realm finished off with the release of the birds into their new homes.
Woody the Tawny Frogmouth was the first resident moved from temporary accommodation. He looked a bit overwhelmed by his new surroundings but sat on the perch in the centre of the Rainforest Realm he looked great.
After him came owls from tropical areas around the globe (well our temporary holding pens at least); the Brown Wood Owls from Asia, the African Wood Owls from… Africa, the Black-banded Owls from South America, Southern Boobook Owl from Australia and Ferruginous Pygmy Owls from South America too. Each bird left the carrying box and flew up to a perch before looking around. We’re not sure if Woody has ever seen owls before, or at least not large ones, so he stared wide-eyed at his new neighbours (not cast from the soap opera I must add, I know his species are from Australia but we had to draw a line somewhere) as they were brought to the new aviaries.
Standing back to see the end result of a lot of hard work by everyone it was fantastic to see it all come together. The Rainforest Realm is a unique feature and I’m sure will be a very popular one with visitors. There are just a couple of finishing touches to make to the area before we open to the public; speakers will play the background sounds of rainforests as visitors explore the tropics and read the information boards that describe the different rainforests that the birds all live in.
Going back a wee bit, Stuart, a university student on placement with us, and I worked to clear and tidy up around the centre. It has been a building site for a long time of course so there was a lot of bits of wood and other clutter around. Now they’re cleared away or put into a skip the centre looks a lot better. We planted a young fir tree in the Siberian Eagle Owl aviary too. The MackInders Eagle Owl had broken a perch so we repaired that as well. It was a busy day, and to think that I’d started at around 8 o’clock only hoping we’d get through half of what we’d achieve, it was a good day’s work.
The zoo inspection is close now, and there is still a lot to get done tomorrow. The ground work contractors have to put lining on the pond, put down a layer of cobble stones then fill it with water; the joiners then have to fence it off to make it safe for the public; they also have a small bridge to build, doors on the photo booth, Lofty’s Lodge, seal the leaks in the roof of the flying display area, gates must be made for access for staff through safety barriers… the list is almost endless!
Whew! What a lot to get done!
Almost oblivious to all of this work, the owls in their aviaries are getting on with their lives. The Great Horned Owls are feeding at least one owlet, the Milky Eagle Owl must be sat on two eggs now and the female Northern Hawk Owl is looking quite broody. The female Ural Owl was on the nest for the whole day until it was feeding time – just like yesterday. She must be close to laying eggs now.
I hope the owls in the Rainforest Realm are having a good first night in the new aviaries. I’ll look in on them first as I do my morning rounds tomorrow (and try to take some photos too).
So until tomorrow I’m off, goodnight all!