First School Visit

Raptor Magic

Pungu, the Bateleur Eagle, is always a firm favourite
with visitors because of her stunning good looks - which grow
more impressive as she reaches maturity

Last week the Sanctuary had its first school visit of the year. The rain threatened for a while and we had one sharp shower, but otherwise the weather decided to be kind to us and it didn’t rain again until just before going home time. The children visiting us came from St Felix, an independent school in Southwold and, after a short welcome, were given a guided tour of the Sanctuary. They were full of enthusiasm and questions about the birds and were especially enchanted by Pungu, our Bateleur Eagle, who impressed them with her exotic looks and Auckland, our Boobook Owl, who looks too tiny to be fully grown.

All the youngsters tackled the colouring-in session with relish
- resulting in some very colourful results!

The children then spent some time on a craft activity where they made ‘funky owls’ to take home and also coloured in some pictures for us to put up on our pavilion walls. Although the flying displays haven’t yet officially started, the falconers were exercising the birds in the afternoon, which gave the children the opportunity to see some of the raptors flying and to ask more questions. I’m not sure who enjoyed the day most, the children or the adults, but the raptors worked their usual magic and we were assured that a lot of fun was had by all!

A Helping Hand
We are extremely lucky at the Suffolk owl Sanctuary to have a very dedicated team, but we would also be lost without the help of our loyal and hard working volunteers. Every year, we also have several work experience students who come to learn about the care and welfare of our birds of prey here at the Sanctuary and help with the daily chores. Just recently a young lad called Ben joined the team for a two week work experience. He came to us via the support of the Prince’s Trust, an organisation that works with 14 to 30-year-olds giving practical and financial support and encouraging the development of key workplace skills such as confidence and motivation. During his two weeks at the Centre, Ben learnt to assist the falconers in their daily tasks from the general husbandry of the birds to tying the tricky falconer’s knot. I gather he didn’t much enjoy preparing the raptors’ food (a rather grisly operation) but he was a good worker and keen to learn new skills. Towards the end of his time with us, he also flew Ash our Common Buzzard and Josh the Harris Hawk, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Time for a good spring clean
You may have read in our previous blogs that, amongst other things, the team here at S.O.S has been working hard to freshen up the Sanctuary ready for the new visitor season. One of the most important areas to receive a good spring clean and general refurbishment is our raptor hospital, where injured and orphaned birds of prey are kept safe and quiet and given any medical attention they require, before hopefully being rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitat.

The walls of the ante-room to the hospital area illustrate some of the
activity from recent times, and the monitor pipes in pictures
from one of the re-habilitation aviaries next door.

The inner door to the recuperation area had become a little warped, so Andy duly replaced it with one that now (thankfully) doesn’t stick. Dean spent several days (when there were no residents in the hospital) giving everything a bright, fresh new coat of paint and Maz put together lots of up-to-date information and photos about birds of prey that the Sanctuary has been able to rehabilitate and return to the wild. An excellent job guys, it all looks very smart!