Yes, love is in the air (again)

Seven days ago we were hopeful that 'spring had sprung' and, apart from a couple of lingering frosts this week, there are still more signs that mother nature is waking up from her long sleep.
Great proof of this is in our woodland walk, where the primroses are already blooming and there is an abundance of green foliage where the bluebells and red campion are beginning to flourish.

The primroses are up, whilst bluebells & red campion show first signs of life

On the hospital front, the Tawny Owl with the infected foot is doing well, though we thought it appropriate to keep him in the flight recovery aviary for a few more days, just to be on the safe side; hopefully he will be flying free again within the week.

The second Tawny Owl brought in recently - the one who appeared to have been in some kind of road traffic accident we reported on last week - benefited from a quiet spell in the hospital and was successfully hacked back to the wild during the week.

Demonstrating the superb camouflage of the Tawny Owl,
our road casualty from last week was released this week and we managed
to capture a snap of him hiding amongst the ivy...

Romance appears to be well & truly in the air as far as the birds are concerned, with our Great Horned Owls among the first to demonstrate that they are 'getting in the mood' (to use Andy’s technical term) for breeding again as they go through their pretty agressive mating display. This pair have successfully bred for the last two years and are a very good mum and dad - so here's hoping!

Huron & Phoenix are in the mood for lurve
and both are strutting their stuff with a mating display
typical of the Great Horned Owl

Meanwhile, as we benefit from improving weather, preparations continue for the new season of flying displays which start early in April and most of the birds that participate are pretty much up and running, or perhaps I should say, flying.

Now is the time when our avian friends are exercised regularly to acclimatise them to their natural flying weight. For the Owls, this entails some fairly stately flying back & forth to the glove of the falconers, but for some of the falcons the exercise regime is more vigorous in nature as the falcons swoop & dive to a 'swing lure'- a leather pad attached to the end of an eight foot line onto which a tasty morsel is tied, which is skilfully swung by the falconer to simulate the way that the falcon would chase its aerial prey in the wilds.

Three more raptors have also now come back into training this week and are out on their perches enjoying the warm spring sun. Taiga, the Great Grey Owl; Aukland. the Boobok Owl and Ash, the Common Buzzard are each an important part of the team here as they are the ons involved in the half day hawk and owl awareness sessions that the sanctuary runs in the summer.

And last but not least, the human team are continuing to make impressive improvements here at SOS. The gift shop has had a makeover and looks very bright and fresh andAndy has put the finishing touches to the new children's playhouse and the pavilion has finally been completed, so all in all, we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Centre again as the drab days of winter recede.