Our second day open to the public went well today. We were a little more organised, a little less stressed, and a little more in the swing of things today.
We still had workmen on site first thing, putting up more benching, modifying Kenya’s aviary for displays, and continuing to build the main signpost that directs people to the different areas of the centre. Again the workmen were all out by opening time.
Today’s volunteers, Jo and Barry, arrived in time to help clean the aviaries and get the place ready for opening time. They have both had what training they needed to clean the enclosures on previous visits, so were ready today to work unsupervised. This was a big help to me and instead of me whizzing round everywhere doing the basics it was possible to have sections thoroughly cleaned. With around 60 aviaries at the centre it just isn’t possible for me to do a thorough clean of every one every day by myself along with everything else we have on. Fortunately the design of the aviaries was aimed at making them as low maintenance as possible so once we have a routine for everyone to work on a section at a time we will raise our standard even higher. The cleanliness and animal husbandry aspect is another area I am tending to be something of a perfectionist with, and while I’m happy with the current standards I see that there can be a lot of improvement too, in my own work and in the daily routine. That’s healthy though isn’t it?
The flying displays today went smoother than yesterday. Putting on three displays each day is something new to me, so making sure I don’t give the birds too much food in one day will be something I have to learn through trial and error. Sarabi the Milky Eagle Owl was a little heavier today than I would have liked – thanks to me rewarding her a bit too much for her wonderful first flying display yesterday! If their weight goes up to far the bird will ‘switch off’ and not be interested in flying. This is a basic fact of flying trained birds of prey daily. We do have enough birds to switch them round, take one off the team due to being overweight and replace it with a different bird, but at the moment we just have a core ‘A Team’ ready and trained up. Others are in training – Prince the Ashy Faced Owl is getting more reliable and stronger in flight with each day in training for example.
We flew all the same birds today as yesterday, and today their performances were more confident. Lofty is still a little gem as he is so active and makes the most of flying round and round the whole arena. Hosking thrilled more people by skimming just inches over their heads today and Oulu the Great Grey was a lot steadier than yesterday, a spectacular bird in flight.
My favourites today were Tiger the Brown Wood Owl, who was on photo duty again, and Sarabi. Yesterday we discovered that Tiger likes being tickled on top of her head, and I mean REALLY likes it! So much that she starts to fall asleep on the glove! She was popular with people for photos today and behaved really well for Jo and our visitors. Sarabi was good for photos too but it was her afternoon flying display that pleased me the most. She flew without much hesitation today and was much bolder. She flew up to the high corner perch a couple of times, and once comfortable with it actually flew from up there diagonally across people’s heads to my glove as I stood in one of the opposite aisles. Just at the last second she shied away from my glove, swerved away, and landed unexpectedly on a bench in front of a group of startled visitors! I could see that she wasn’t in a panic so played on this new situation to see what she might do next. I strolled over to sit at the other end of the bench and held out some food to her. Rather than fly over she walked with a comical waddle to take the food delicately in her bill. I do love improvising and this was just comical. I don’t know who loved this part of the show the most; the audience or me! Sarabi is such a good owl and every day working with her is a pleasure.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring us?