We had our second school visit to the Scottish Owl Centre today. Getting the word out about the centre as an educational resource has been a high priority since opening day. Our first school visit was a few weeks ago and went so well I was really looking forward to the next one. Now we have two this week and more bookings are coming in daily.
Well to cut to the chase today’s visit went great. The school had travelled all the way from Edinburgh, and after an essential pit stop to the Park play area they came through to our flying display arena.
Our arena has enough seats for over two hundred people, so plenty of room for a school group and any day visitors that may wish to come along for the show too. We can theme our flying displays to whatever a school may want as they cover many topics in the school curriculum, and if a school is studying a particular topic in class then we can tailor our material to suit.
Today we started out with our baby, Sam the American Barn Owl. The children always love seeing a fluffy baby but it’s a great opportunity to learn about the life of an owl in the wild, how they live, nest, incubate and hatch the eggs, rear owlets, how long it takes for the owlets to grow up, when they get their feathers, how they learn to fly, how they learn to feed… all with a living (squeaking!) model there in front of them.
Next I flew Lofty, a three year old Barn Owl of the type you find out and around the UK, and in particular for these children, Scotland. The children here today had been reading ‘The owl who was afraid of the dark’ in class, so as I flew Lofty I asked them questions about the owls, to see what they had learned and remembered. Lofty himself was in a funny mood today, distracted by the strange pops and crackles coming from our speaker system today. We hope to have the problem fixed tomorrow but today it was a distraction we didn’t need. Having said that Lofty flew really well, choosing to fly lap after lap around the arena before landing on a perch at random. He didn’t go where I wanted him to go and when I wanted him to, but he looked fantastic all the same! I like to ask the group questions as I fly the birds, and enjoy seeing them think about what they are learning during the shows. My talk wasn’t quite as flowing or ordered as I’d like but it’ll get better each time.
After Lofty came Broo the Eurasian Eagle Owl. If Lofty flew well, floating round and round like a big white moth, well Broo had the children laughing and squealing all at once as she charged about over their heads and from one end of the arena to the other. It’s always spectacular to see the largest species of owl fly so close and Broo puts on a great show.
After the display I took the group on a ‘Walk to the North Pole’ guided tour. It was more of a whistle stop tour as the kids hadn’t had lunch. We ended up at the Snowy Owls of course, and of course they were a big hit.
The rest of the day was quiet in comparison, but with more odd weather that was understandable too. Sunshine and snow are not expected companions for May, but as long as there is more of the sunshine than of the snow it’s not all bad. Prince and Sarabi flew in the afternoon flying display, and Sam made another appearance in the arena, this time taking a few more steps to investigate the nearest bench. Between myself and volunteers Karen and Mhairi we set out a ‘feed tag’ system around the centre this afternoon too. This will help new staff and volunteers know what food to put in each pen each day. Eventually it all becomes clear and the tags won’t be needed but to start out it can be bewildering trying to remember what to put into over sixty aviaries!
Well I think it’s time I went about finding some food for myself, so I’ll sign off and see you next time. ‘Til then, gnite!