Wintery Grips


Along with the rest of the world, it seems, the world recently disappeared into a hazy blur of white. I thought I had a car in my driveway but at times all I could see was an amorphous blob! Apparently, weather determines the seasons and, to aid meteorologists, some bright spark decided in 1780 that each season should have three months. Winter, for meteorologists then, starts on December 1st in the Northern Hemisphere and June 1st in the Southern Hemisphere.

Three MONTHS! After a few hours The Sanctuary was covered in a swathe of white nd we were soon playing ‘Spot the Snowy Owl’... in three months it could be more a case of ‘Spot the Sanctuary’!

For the last few weeks we have had various items of clothing (not to mention falconers) steaming dry over the heaters in the office, the aforementioned having been drenched from head to toe cleaning snow off the aviaries. It’s amazing how much a layer of snow cuts out the light and of course there’s always the worry that if we had a particularly heavy snowfall on top of existing snow, it could cause damage to the aviary roofs. Not the most glamorous of tasks then, but one that has to be done.

On the positive side, the Sanctuary does look stupendously beautiful, not to mention exceptionally serene and tranquil. And the birds don’t mind the snow. Their layers of feathers, especially the downy ones close to the skin, can be fluffed up to keep them nice and warm and, whatever the weather, they can be assured that one of our hardy falconers will make it through the most treacherous of conditions to provide them with a tasty chick or two. (Not, in my opinion, as comforting as a steaming cup of hot chocolate, but then I’m not an owl!)
Hey ho, hey ho! It's off to Wales we go!

No matter how intemperate the weather conditions, the work of the Sanctuary goes on. Regular blog followers may remember that back in mid July we proudly announced the arrival of our Red Squirrel kits (as in baby squirrels rather than the Airfix variety), which have continued to grow and thrive ever since. The key purpose for breeding our Red Squirrels is the opportunity to work with various Red Squirrel regeneration projects, among them ‘The Friends of Anglesey Red Squirrels’, who are successfully re-introducing more Red Squirrels across the island on the north coast of Wales. The kits are now old enough and robust enough to make the long cross-country journey from Suffolk Wales, so just before the now arrrived, Head Falconer Matt spent two days trying to tempt some of them into travelling boxes, so that they could be transported to their new home. By the end of the second day, two of the kits decided they would play ball, but the rest were intent on staying in their nice cosy drey.

Wednesday arrived along with the youngsters’ conveyance, but after several more fruitless hours trying to coax out another kit, Matt gave up and just two of the kits set out on their journey to a new life. Matt then went back to the squirrel enclosure to remove the last box only to find 3 cheeky faces peering at him from its inner depths! What’s the old maxim… ‘never work with children and animals…’?

Well anyway, we hope the kits thrive in their new environment and hopefully we will be able to further our breeding program next year.