2015 is here! So too is the return of the Senior Keeper’s Blog, absent for the last couple of years, the blog is back to keep people informed of what is happening at the Scottish Owl Centre, particularly during the period the centre is closed to the public in January.
We are opening Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of January of course, for the last weekend of our Winter Wonder Owls themed event. Each day has a shortened opening period, and just one flying display, but the display is themed around the Owls of Winter and how the chilly season affects the owls of the northern hemisphere.
Back to the blog though, it is my aim to keep writing updates of the projects going on at the centre this year. We have a lot planned and a few surprises in store too.
Traditionally, centres like ourselves close over winter and do the major maintenance jobs. Our big white owl signpost suffered some damage in a storm and so needs major repair work before we open in Feb. We are continuing with the work to replace some of the original materials used in the build of the centre with newer and more durable ones. Some of the plywood panels used when the centre was built three years ago have been splitting as water gets into them. This not only looks unsightly, it threatens to cause holes in aviaries, which will not do at all. New natural coloured wooden boards or planks have been used here and there around the centre over the last year. The British Owl section has seen such repair and replace work as has the aviary beside the entrance to the Rainforest Realm. This was the aviary where Kara the beautiful Turkmenian Eagle Owl lived. She has moved into one of the new aviaries built next to the reception and gift shop. She and Altai the Siberian Eagle Owl, and Moose the Canadian Great Horned Owl moved there for Christmas, and have been settling in since.
The Rainforest Realm is another area we are working on this year. One of our volunteers began to refurbish with the Black Banded Owls enclosure last year, and the natural looking ‘slab wood’ with bark covering has made a big improvement to the aviary. We are awaiting delivery of more of this wood and we will use it all around the walls of the Rainforest feature. Hopefully this work will not only make the feature look nicer, it will help the owls living there feel more relaxed as they camouflage better. This might mean they feel ready to breed in 2015 too. This would be fantastic as we have a pair of tiny Ferruginous Pygmy Owls who seem to be bonding well. The chirping of tiny beaks would be wonderful!
More construction work. The aviaries already mentioned, where Kara, Altai and Moose have moved to, were the start of a new generation and new style of aviary in the centre. These three enclosures were built in-house by staff and volunteers, mainly led by long term volunteer Ian Clarke. We like the look of these new pens, and intend to build more in that style. Our next project has already begun down at the opposite end of the centre. We have begun to dig the foundations of a new aviary tagged onto the MackInders Eagle Owl aviary. This pen will house a pair of new owls that we haven’t had in the collection before; a pair of Aharonis Eagle Owls. They are beautiful looking birds, a sub species of Eurasian Eagle Owl that inhabits the Middle East. I have worked with them in my previous job, but they are becoming very scarce in collections in the UK, and I hadn’t seen any mention of them for some years. We were lucky to locate a centre with two pairs, and have arranged to bring the older pair to Scotland. With any luck their aviary should be finished in time for our opening in February. As you can see in the picture, we have a lot of tidying up to do before we open too! It will be a very busy month for us all!
So that’s where we’re at at the moment. I aim to keep this blog going weekly, but there may be one or two in between if anything exciting or big happens!
See you next time, and Happy New Year!