Looking forward to 2010
Despite the unrelenting cold snap, everyone at S.O.S. has been hard at it outside preparing for the New Year ahead. The falconers’ huts are well on their way to being finished, Andy and co. having spent the last couple of months insulating & cladding the bare walls of the external structures, laying the floors and sectioning off the interiors as mews, food preparation room, weighing room, incubator room and general office. All-in-all the new buildings are taking shape nicely into what will provide a safe and secure environment as the fulcrum of our activities.

To paraphrase Bob, “It’s not done yet... but it’s gettin’ there”

Once completed, the yearly round of renovating and repairing the aviaries begins and generally making sure that the Sanctuary is all ship-shape for the season ahead.

It’s also time to start the changeover of the birds that are kept in the weatherings. During the late autumn and winter months, many of the raptors flown on our winter course days take up residence in the open-fronted weatherings by day and retire to the mews room by night, whilst our summer team take a long break away in the aviaries to rest & moult. As spring approaches, the winter team are returned to their spacious aviaries as the falconers begin to reclaim the summer team, who transfer back into the weatherings.

After a winter moult, our Steppe Eagle Mir will soon be back in the air

A couple of days ago, I watched Matt put out the first two birds of the season and, as ever, was intrigued and delighted by their unmistakable characters. The first out was Mir, the Steppe Eagle, who thoroughly enjoyed stretching her feathers. The second was Pungu the Bateleur Eagle, who flirted outrageously with Matt and was insistent that he scratch her under the chin and on the top of her head. Mir squawked and flapped her wings jealously, but she tends to be a little unpredictable, so advisably Matt declined to give her a scratch too!

The Sanctuary has some really exciting events planned for 2010, so check out the
S.O.S. Events 2010 page for the list so far, or watch this space for further additions - just subscribe to our RSS Feed by simply clicking the button at the bottom of the left-hand column of this page and then all the news from the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary will automatically be delivered to your computer or phone whenever it’s published. And not to be left behind, yes, we’re all of a Twitter so if you’d like our hottest news delivered instantly, why not join our band of followers - you’ll be very welcome.

Bitterly cold… or Bitternly Heaven?
Apparently, this winter has not been a misery of chattering teeth and ploughing through snowdrifts for all, in fact it would appear that the severity of the winter weather on the Continent has meant a boom in the number of Bitterns that have been spotted in the British Isles.

The booming Bittern has been more prevalent on these shores in recent months

Bird reserves across the country have reported seeing this shy bird in far greater numbers and in some cases for the first time ever.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is reported as saying that it has received a large number of photos of Bitterns in some very strange places and also that it believes the UK has seen the arrival of perhaps three times as many Bitterns as in previous years!

The male Bittern has a distinctive booming call, which makes it relatively easy to record and conservation charities are particularly eager to ensure that the British Bittern population doesn’t drop as low as in 1997, when only 11 males were recorded!