A ray of sunshine...

As you will probably be aware, we like to keep our readers informed about how birds-of-prey are faring not just locally but also across the UK. The really great news is that, all over the country, birds-of-prey are doing better than they have been for years.

The 1950’s & 1960’s were a bad old time for the nation’s raptors, which seem to have been the focus of a merciless mass slaughter – almost, you might say, a heinous witch-hunt. There was no discrimination and the shooting and poisoning of many magnificent, awe inspiring birds caused their serious decline. In some cases, they disappeared from our shores altogether.

Of course the persecution of birds-of-prey is nothing new, but neither are the attempts to prevent. You may remember from one of last year’s blogs (17.7.09) that Henry Vlll outlawed the killing of Common Buzzards way back in Tudor times. Killing raptors is still illegal today, but it is also, sadly, still a fact of life.

However as reported her a few weeks ago, in early February a petition of 200,000 signatures was handed to Huw Irranca-Davies, the Wildlife Minister. The petition was backed by the RSPB and solicited an end to the killing of birds-of-prey. The Wildlife Minister was supportive of the proposal and it’s extremely heartening to see such a fantastic public response to the plight of our nation’s raptors.

As for East Anglia, things are really looking up. Marsh Harriers were reduced to just 1 breeding pair in Britain in 1971, but their population is now estimated to be approximately 160 breeding pairs, many of them located in this region! Buzzards too are on their way back, a far more common sight over our skies than at almost any time within the last 200 years. And to top it all there is even a chance that the great White-tailed Sea Eagle will grace our shores once again (see this years blog 21.01.10).

Back at Base
Things are looking good here at the Sanctuary, too. Just last week, we reported on a Kestrel that had been brought in to the hospital a few weeks ago after having flown into a patio window. As you may recall, the main problem was that it had a very short tail, which made flying a rather hit & miss operation – obviously rather more ‘hit’ than miss in this raptor’s case! Anyway, I’m happy to report that, a few weeks later, with a fully regrown tail and at a good healthy weight, the Kestrel has now been released back into the

As a result of an old calcified injury which is making it difficult for this
buzzard to fly, it may stay with us rather than be returned to the wild.

The hospital is more than used to a steady influx of Barn Owls & Tawny Owls, but its latest patient came as something of a surprise. Unusually for us, it’s a Common Buzzard which was found at Kettleburgh in Suffolk, in the middle of a field, unable to fly. A visit to the vet’s unearthed old fractures of the ulna & radius bones in the left wing, both of which had calcified. (Calcification is where the affected part has become abnormally solid as a result of the deposit of calcium salts). The buzzard is now in our large rehab aviary, receiving antibiotics & plenty of TLC. Given the bird’s condition, it’s highly unlikely that it would be able to hunt or fend for itself in the wild again, so we will make sure it has a safe home with us here at the Sanctuary, where it will be well looked after for the rest of its life.

And finally, on a more aesthetic note

Last year we held a competition for A-level students of Northgate High School to produce some owl posters and we were absolutely thrilled with the results. The posters were put up on display in our pavilion and visitors were keen to vote on the poster they liked the best. All the posters were wonderful and all had their fair share of votes, but our eventual and well-deserved winner was Rachel Anne Taylor. You can see the winning picture and all the other entries on our new YOUR PICS webpage - click here.

This year we are running the competition again, this time with an adoption theme in mind. If last year is anything to go by, then we’re in for a treat, so when you come to visit, remember we’ll need your all-important vote!