Well I’ve had a day or two off so a day or two without blog writing. Back in this afternoon and other than being a bit nippy for the time of year (come on, it’s nearly May!) the sun was shining and the centre had good numbers of visitors.
I was pleased to see that the Great Horned Owlets are now getting so big there is at least one visible most of the time. They seem to almost double in size every day at this stage! I’ve never seen owlets from this species before so I’m loving every day of seeing them.
No news is good news, definitely the phrase of the week as far as the other nesting birds go. Our female Ural Owl is still sitting tight on her nest, and the male is calling to her in the afternoons after food has been put in the aviary. They must have one or more owlets, surely? Over the way in the Northern Hawk Owl aviary the male spent most of the day sitting either next to the nest box or on a perch where he could face the box – could he hear owlets/hatching? The fact that both these female owls are still sitting in the nest box is a good sign, but we won’t know for sure that any eggs have hatched for some time yet. If only I had the Great Grey Owl’s super hearing I could hear if there are owlets in these boxes!
In the last few days we have added more owls to the breeders board; Southern White Faced Owl, Mottled Owl, and hopefully tomorrow the Ashy Faced Owl.
I doubt our Siberian Eagle Owls will breed this year given that the female is going through a moult at the moment. Today I found one of her primary feathers from her left wing – it’s huge! I have in my collection the same feather from a Eurasian Eagle Owl, a Turkmenian Eagle Owl and a Red Kite, and this Siberian’s feather is the biggest of the lot! She’s a very impressive bird!
Today’s flying displays that I took part in were not my best, nor did the birds perform that great either, but everyone has an ‘off day’ every now and then. Sarabi had a bad encounter with wheelchairs in the morning, and seeing another in the afternoon show just put her in a stubborn mood. She was still lovely for the photo sessions, just not inclined to fly today. Hudson the Great Horned managed two short flights and one long one today. Not great by flying display standards but still a milestone; his first flights with an audience and the mic system switched on, so two distractions to put him off. Luckily Prince the Ashy Faced and Lofty the Barn Owl put in good performances, Lofty being particularly aerobatic showing off his hover and pounce technique!
Before my days off we had our first school visit here to the Scottish Owl Centre. One of the local schools – Polkemmet Primary School – came to see the centre. There were maybe 40 to 50 children I think, and they enjoyed their ‘Walk to the North Pole’ guided tour followed by a flying display. There were other visitors in that day too and they were invited to join the tour if they wished, then see the flying display in the indoor arena. The owls put on a good show for the children – I could hear their gasps, laughs and squeals from through the wall as Broo the Eurasian Eagle Owl swooped over their heads. I prepared Lofty for his turn as Hosking the Tawny Owl whizzed around the arena before returning through his little door in the wall to his aviary. Lofty was in a good mood and really showed off for the kids. He is stunning as he is so pale underneath and a rich honey colour on his back, and he flies around the arena quite happy to do his own thing while I talk, then comes over when I offer food. As he will fly to the glove I can go and stand behind – or within! – the audience and bring him over to fly right over their heads or land right next to them. I love seeing the reactions of the audiences as our owls do this, and the school children really enjoyed it. I rounded the display off with a ‘question time’ and was amazed and pleased with all of the things the children asked. There were so many questions I had to stop myself from getting carried away, I could have kept on going all day with a crowd as enthusiastic as that! Well that couldn’t happen of course, and I suggested that the children send us questions through the school or ask next time they visit, maybe with their families.
I really enjoyed this flying demonstration as it was quite different from anything I’d done before – so much fun! We hope to have a lot of schools visit us this year. If you live in the area, maybe you are a teacher or know a teacher, or have children at a local school – get in touch and arrange a visit!
Anyhow I think I’d better log off and get some sleep, it will be a busy day tomorrow!