Eye, eye...

Every year at the end of September, we draw the flying display season at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary to a close for the winter. The reasons are three-fold - after a full summer season the birds enjoy some R&R; many of them go into moult in the winter months; and winter is the time when we begin some of the heavier construction & repair work around the centre

Consequently, during the past few days all of our ‘summer’ owls were comfortably re-housed in spacious aviaries, where they will remain until our 2010 demonstration season begins next Easter.

The unmistakable piecing gaze of the Goshawk

Meanwhile the ‘winter’ team - consisting of Harris Hawks, a Peregrine and a Goshawk - are now being exercised regularly in preparation for the activity days & hawk walks which are run from the centre by the East Anglian Academy of Falconry. Spaces are still available for some of these events on selected days and could be the perfect solution if you’re looking for that extra special birthday or Christmas gift - visit www.falconry-east.co.uk for more information.

Just one smile for the camera…pleeease!

Just recently, the Sanctuary received an email from London based photographer Rob Murray, who wanted to take pictures of some of the flying team for a portfolio he is compiling of ‘Wildlife and the Urban Environment’.

We were happy to comply and Rob duly arrived armed with a range of specialist photographic paraphernalia. General Manager Andy spent some time flying European Eagle, Ural and Boobook Owls to and from various perches and to his fist: they all performed brilliantly and appeared completely unfazed by all the lighting and camera equipment around them.

But not everyone was quite so keen to be in the spotlight – our striking Indian Eagle Owl Baloo went into a big huff and flatly refused to go anywhere near the equipment at all!

However, Rob was very pleased with his pictures and has promised to send us the results once he has montaged them onto various different backgrounds for visual effect, which hopefully we will be able to share with you at a later date.

Hospital News

Last week, I reported on several unfortunate birds that had been brought in to the hospital with an assortment of injuries. So far, I’m glad to report that the Barn Owl is continuing to improve and put on weight and as soon as the falconers are happy with his progress, he will be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation aviary.

The Tawny Owl with the scraped wing is recovering well from its operation and - once the wound has healed - will go back to the vets to have the stitches removed.

Much sadder news is that the other Tawny Owl rescued from an RTA was in such a poorly state that the inevitable, but none-the-less distressing decision to ask the vet to euthanise the creature had to be made. Obviously, we would be much happier if every single bird brought in to the Sanctuary could be healed and rehabilitated, but sometimes it’s just not fair or right to let an animal suffer!

We now have two more casualties in the hospital, both of them Kestrels. The first was brought in to the Sanctuary on the 29th of September, again probably the result of an RTA. Thankfully, the prognosis appears relatively good and apart from some inflammation of the right eye there doesn’t seem to be too much wrong. Thankfully the bruising around the eye is coming out, which is always a good sign. I watched as Kate – one of the Sanctuary’s wonderful volunteers – held the Kestrel, carefully but firmly enclosing the wings and holding the feet to prevent it from damaging itself (or her) whilst Andy administered eye drops for the inflammation. I was amazed by how quickly and efficiently it was done, the bird showing no agitation or stress at all.

Our other Kestrel patient was also hit by a car and there was some concern about damage to its pelvis. However an x-ray showed up clear and its legs definitely work, although at the moment it can’t support its weight. It will be a long term project to rehabilitate it, but we are very hopeful that the end result will be a good one!