It was a long day for me at the Scottish Owl Centre today. Long but productive.
Starting out at 8 a.m. I enjoyed my morning check on the owls before anyone else arrived. The place was very peaceful and as I quietly wandered round I saw many of the owls sat in different places than usual. This must be what they do when ‘off show’ and all the people go home, this is ‘owl time’. It was nice to see them more relaxed and enjoying being themselves before the work starts for the day.
Once the rounds were done I got cracking on installing branch perches in the Wee Owl aviaries. Starting with the first pen – temporarily housing a Tengmalm’s Owl – I caught up the owl and placed it in a quiet spot in a carrying box, then began to take out the old and put in the new perching. Knowing that there will be new birds moving into this row of aviaries I was able to put perches appropriate to their needs. I have worked with each of these species before and remember what sorts of perches they need and like. It was quite therapeutic to spend the day doing this task. It’s a bit like doing the decorating in a new house, or unpacking the prized ornaments and placing them just where you think they look best. It’s strangely satisfying to stand back and see your handiwork too. The test of course is to see if the owls will like and use the perches too. Once kitted out with perching that makes best use of the space in the aviary, that gives a good variety of places to sit both high and low, at the rear and at the front of the aviary, I then take out all of my tools and put the owls back in their home. To begin with they often sit and stare around at the new ‘furnishings’, or they fly up to their old perch and stare at everything wide eyed. Eventually you see them calm down and start to explore the new places to sit and that is very satisfying.
I got the whole row of seven aviaries kitted out with perches today and was very pleased with the results. Better still, other people liked them, and even better than that all the owls seemed to like them as well!
By the usual time to finish work I had the whole of the Wee Owl corner of the centre ready for the new birds arrival.
The team working on building the centre had a good day too. All of the new aviaries received the upright tree perches and gravel flooring. One of the guys build at least 6 new nestboxes for the small owls and the painter made the most of the dry weather to give another coat of paint to railings and ledges, walls and roofing frames. We even had a brief glimpse of sunshine this afternoon, very welcome for drying paint – and humans too! The ground work team finished laying the paths at one end of the centre, with only the area near the reception and side entrance still to do.
There was a real sense that things are coming on now, and feeling better about the progress than recent days.
Of course for me there was (and still is) the anticipation of the new owls arriving tomorrow morning. I am really excited actually! As well as some new owls I have never seen let alone worked with before, there will be some old favourites of mine arriving – like the Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, and the magnificent Milky Eagle Owls, the European Scops (‘owl that goes ping’), Sundas Scops, Pearl Spotted Owlet, and the Striated Scops that I haven’t worked with in a number of years. We will be receiving birds to pair up with some of our own collection too; African Wood Owl and Tengmalm’s Owl and it will be good to see them in a pair.
Hometime came and I still had some work to do. I had planned to feed the owls late today, when everyone had finished with noisy work. I decided to start moving birds around ready for tomorrow too. Initially I just intended to move the White Faced Owls that had been in the last pen in the Wee Owl section that I had decked out in perching, but as the sun was shining and it was a lovely evening we decided to move as many round as we could in readiness for the very early morning. It was quite mind boggling to work out which owl was going where but we got them all moved round eventually.
I felt really happy to be moving the owls into their correct aviaries after so long. Some went straight up to the new perches the team had put in for them and looked great! I’m charging up my cameras tonight so look out for some pictures tomorrow!
By the time I got to feeding the owls in the centre it was going dark, and the owls were beginning to call. It was ‘owl time’ again. It occurred to me that they were complaining about room service being very slow today!
So I’ll sign off for tonight and go get some sleep. I’ll be going in at around 7 but the courier with the new owls may beat me there!