A Long Haul...

Last August seems like an age ago, although in reality it’s only seven months. Something to do with this winter having felt like it’s lasted a whole year I suspect! Anyway, at the beginning of last August I wrote about a Marsh Harrier which had been brought in to the Sanctuary from Fingringhoe in Essex. Apart from having had a very unpleasant encounter with a shotgun, which resulted in two bits of shot in the poor bird’s wing, it also had a very nasty, open, infected wound on its right foot that was swollen to about three times its original size.

Raring to go - once the tail feathers have moulted properly,
this Marsh Harrier will be released back to its natural habitat

The team here had hoped that, all being well, the bird would be released within a few weeks, but unfortunately things weren’t to prove quite so simple. So the harrier has been kept quietly in seclusion with us here since last August and, despite numerous ups and downs and several trips to the vet, is now finally in the best of health. All that remains now is for the bird’s tail to moult down properly and then, fingers crossed, the falconers will finally be able to release it back into its natural habitat.

You may also remember that in last week’s blog I told you about a buzzard which had come in to the hospital. Conservation officer Dean reports that it’s doing well and is now off the antibiotics, so that’s looking really encouraging too!

Off with the winter pounds!

A couple of weeks ago, the first two of our flying demonstration birds, Mir the Steppe Eagle & Pungu the Bateleur Eagle were reclaimed by head falconer Matt to begin their exercising for the flying displays which start at the beginning of April. Suddenly the time seems to be whipping by fast and before you know it Easter will be upon us, so by next week all the demonstration birds will be out and flexing their flight muscles once again.

On Thursday, I went to put Bali. the Sanctuary’s Malaysian Brown Wood Owl, out on his perch. He was looking in really fine fettle and definitely somewhat on the plump side. I also put out my mate Aukland, our little Boobook Owl and star of our school visits. I like to think he remembered me after his restful winter break, but his nibble at my glove was probably more to do with his impatience at my slowness with the falconer’s knot than affection!

Aukland, our feisty Boobook Owl has returned from his winter retreat in fine fettle

Several of the other birds are already enjoying the sunshine – if not yet any actual warmth. Baloo, our Indian Eagle Owl is chattering away on his perch as is his wont, whilst the Harris’ Hawks Saracen & Josh have been pretending that they’re completely wild and honestly have never been on the glove before! Ash, our Common Buzzard kept his back to the sun for most of Thursday, with his wings stretched out in sheer sun-worshipping bliss.

So it will be a busy time at the Sanctuary from now on, as there are still a number of birds to reclaim and they will all have to be carefully monitored and gradually brought back to the right weight and fitness to enjoy showing off their stunning and incredible aerial skills for the benefit of the many visitors who come here to learn all about the care & conservation of wild birds of prey.