Busy Birds

art, birds, cute, events, fairies, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, Hoots, nature, Owls, Owls, photography

Training and caring for my birds certainly keeps me busy, and I try to make sure the birds keep busy too.  The past few months have seen the birds entertaining families while they get creative in the yurt; hosting summer feast nights; giving people the thrill of having a bird of prey fly to their glove for food and taking part in several bespoke photo shoots.

The feast nights brought lots of new people to the Owl Field in August.  With the Keep Cornwall Fed chefs and Kim’s Kitchen cooking up some delicious meals we will definitely be planning more for 2018.

Photography sessions have also been a big part of our activity, and the cows like to join in too and surprised Maryna of Photography by Maryna!  She got her bag back with only a little cow slobber on it!!

So if I ever wonder if I am doing the right thing – I look at my birds, reflect on how much we have achieved together, and know that I am doing exactly the right thing…then I put the kettle on!

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Busy Owls

birds, cute, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, Owls

How time flies in the summer – especially with my owls, a hawk and a site to complete before my first ever field event on August 13th – that’s less than 2 weeks!!!

The birds are all moulting like crazy – it seems like I have more of their feathers than they do 🙂

IMG_4369

 

Peanut lost his last tail feathers last week and looked like a kid with gappy teeth!  He has been busy helping me with my summer sessions at Trenython Hotel and Fowey Hall as well and it seems it is all very tiring for a little owl…

peanut sleeping at work

Peanut still loves his cuddles, especially when we tickle him behind his ears – at least I think that is where they are!

Chaya, my Harris hawk, has been soaking up the sun at every opportunity.

sunny harris hawk

She is also moulting like crazy so I am giving her a rest and feeding her up – she has been a very happy, if a little fat, hawk and today I saw her new tail feathers appearing – much nicer than the one I found in her aviary the other day…she had definitely worn that one out!

Time to go and cut the grass…again…..and I can see the sun 🙂

 

Owls, Fairies and a Mermaid too!

art, birds, cute, fairies, Hoots, mermaid, nature, Owls, Owls, photography, Selfies

The two youngest owls, Peanut my Burrowing Owl and Whisper my Barn Owl, were invited to attend the Three Wishes Fairy Fair in the beautiful grounds of Mount Edgecombe House near Torpoint last weekend.  This was the 10th year the Fairy – or Faery to be precise – Fair has run, all thanks to my ‘sister-in-law’ Karen Kay.

Love Karen

Love the Fairy fair with Karen Kay

The sun shone on Saturday afternoon as I arrived with owls and my daughter, Hayley who was helping me by taking charge of Peanut for the afternoon.

Of course the owls got a lot of attention from all the wonderful people there, and everyone was amazed to see the owls so calm even with the crowds wanting to all say hello.  Whisper was so relaxed she even fell asleep on my glove – twice!

Whisper snoozes by the mushrooms

Whisper snoozes by the mushrooms

Whisper relaxing with the fairies

Whisper relaxing among the fairies

I made sure Whisper wore her special colourful ribbons for the day,  and I was amazed to hear how many people – or I should say faery folk – have an owl as their animal spirit!  I learnt a lot about faeries that day!

There was so much to see and people to meet.  However imagine how surprised Hayley and I were when we walked around a corner and found a mermaid!!  Yes, a mermaid!!  She introduced herself as The St Ives Mermaid. I introduced myself as The Bird Lady of Fowey, of course!…it was wonderful to meet her and she was so lovely to talk with.  Of course I have invited her to my In the Company of Owls event in August, I hope she comes – I have a paddling pool she could use!!

St Ives Mermaid meets Bird Lady of Fowey

St Ives Mermaid meets Bird Lady of Fowey

Mermaid and Owls

Owls and a Mermaid

Further down the field we came across this beautiful vintage wagon adorned with amazing artwork and carvings.  I think the owls would have quite happily moved in and stayed there!

Beautiful vintage wagon.JPG

Owls and beautiful vintage wagon

It really was a gorgeous afternoon, walking around the wonderful grounds of Mount Edgecombe House with the owls, sitting on the grass and taking in the sites and generally enjoying chatting with my daughter – all in the company of owls!!

Thank you, Karen, for inviting us.  We would love to come again next year!!

Love Owls and Faeries.JPG

Owls and Karen Faery Kay – thank you!

A Harris Hawk called Chaya

birds, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, photography

On Pancake day this year I collected my very own Harris Hawk.  After over 30 years of waiting I finally got a Hawk of my own – so very exciting and nerve racking all at the same time!  I love my owls and always will, but a Harris Hawk is a completely different bird all together.  Much more like a working dog in the way a relationship can be forged – becoming partners in nature.  As a child I dreamt of this day.

Chaya Harris Hawk

She arrived angry and disgruntled – her previous aviary had it’s roof blown off by the storm Imogen 2 days before, and with her owners moving soon they did not want to rebuild so put her up for sale.  She had only been with them for a few months and had flown free just a couple of times, hunting but not caught anything yet.

Still a young bird, hatched in 2014 at the end of June, she had not been trained or flown as much as she could have been so it was going to be up to me to bring her ‘in to her own’.  I had briefly worked with her early last summer and I hoped she may remember me as the person who had encouraged her to fly to the glove for food, and on a creance too.  However with her strong feet and attitude I really wasn’t sure if she did, or ever would!

Feb 2016 yellow feet Harris Hawk

She needed a name – Birdy was all she had been called before.  After searching through my usual Google pages of goddess names and the like I chose Chaya – meaning Full of Life in Hebrew ,with similar words in Gaelic meaning hawk like, and in Mexican meaning life giving.  A good strong name for a beautiful, strong female Harris Hawk.

She showed good spirit [or temper!] and was very keen for food so I quickly got her flying in the field on a creance [long 30 metre leash] while we got to know each other.

Chaya on creance.JPG

Chaya loves playing in trees and chasing squirrels, though still hasn’t caught one yet.  She is getting used to the wind too, after the storm she really did seem quite unnerved by the wind, especially strong gusts, but with regular flying she is getting stronger and more confident by the day.  We go out every day possible, wind or rain as long as it is not too rough!

 

Chaya loves company, Harris Hawks are very social creatures, so she is by my side most of the day – watching me tend my parking area, visiting friends or on her bow perch in my garden as I type my blogs.

She will, hopefully, live to the age of about twenty, and I look forward to our adventures together.  She is now flying free every day and has started preening my hair [which needs it after our walks].  I have found a good friend.

Harris Hawk flies over willow

Owls by day

birds, cute, nature, Owls, photography

So much has been achieved since I started on my new adventure in the summer, yet there is still loads to do.  The owls need there daily care, of course, as does Blue and the chickens; the parking area and shed renovation are getting there, just not quite done yet; Victor and BB need better aviaries before the winter really sets in and the shed needs moving to a more level site…busy days!

Daily routines with Peanut and Whisper already feels like this is what I have always done.  Each morning starts with a quick check out of my bedroom window where I can see both aviaries – usually Peanut is on his top perch looking like a puffball.

Good Morning Peanut

Good Morning Peanut

If I call out he will answer with his little chirrup that sounds so much like he is saying ‘Alright’ – he is proper Cornish!

He is slowly developing his grown up call, a quick double ‘hoot hoot’ which we have only heard a couple of times so far.  I even played him a recording thinking that may encourage him to hoot…instead he looked confused and continued with his usual chirrup.

Hello!

Hello!

Whisper is often still awake in the morning, though not always.  I never knew that I would be able to tell if a Barn Owl is tired just by looking at one, but Whisper actually squints if she is up too early or stayed up too late.  You would think that she would go into her box, but no, she is often sitting on a perch on one foot squinting at the morning light!  If anyone goes near the aviary she then dashes into her box to hide – I wonder if she is thinking ‘No, I do not want to come out and play, it is bedtime’. Just like a teenager – she hates mornings!

Morning Whisper!

Morning Whisper!

I managed to record her sleeping a while ago – we had been to the farm for a few hours and she was obviously exhausted by this. Here she is – Sleeping Whisper – you can see her gently moving with her breath as she sleeps. Beautiful!

So, back to the routine.  Once I am up a quick visual check of owls and aviaries shows me if there is anything that needs attention.  The water is changed and the casts collected.  It’s important for me to note if each bird has cast and if the cast looks ‘normal’.  Depending on the diet the casts will differ in colour – day old chicks are quite pale where as rats and pheasant certainly makes my four owls’ casts much darker.  Any unusual changes may indicate the bird is unwell so this is an important check to make.

If all is well, and after a cup of coffee, I spend time working with Peanut in his aviary training him, at the moment getting him to go into his burrows on command with a reward of food.  He is learning well and is very quick to fly for a treat – a bit of beef or cut up chick are his favourites.  When the training is done, basically when Peanut has had enough to eat, I stay for a few more minutes as this is when he is very sociable and at his cutest – Cute Burrowing Owl says ‘Which way is up?’

Mid afternoon I usually head to the field to see Victor and BB.  I am working on building their confidences with being handled, or manned to use the correct term.  They were both hand reared but had not been handled much at all before they came to me this year.  As they are now both about 5 years old this may take a lot of time and patience on my part.  However as Eurasian Eagle Owls can live up to 60 years I figure it is worth it.

BB sitting on a glove!

BB sitting on a glove!

So now I spend time simply being near them in their aviaries and talking to them.  They are both free lofted – not tethered – so it is good that they usually remain sitting calmly when I am with them.  If I do catch them to take them out they still tend to flap but soon settle once on my glove.  BB struggles to stand on the glove, showing that he really hadn’t been handled much at all, and so he needs more practice but as he is such a large bird he gets quite heavy to hold for any length of time!!

Tempting Victor with food

Tempting Victor with food

My aim is to one day be able to fly them in the field – just got to get them to feed from the glove first, which they don’t at all at the moment…..like I say, I will keep trying.

So then after a few hours hanging out with my boys I head back home in time to feed the youngsters.  My days are getting much shorter now it gets dark by 5pm!  My lovely husband has put outside lights for me as it was getting tricky undoing the padlocks with one hand while holding a torch with the other.

I like to fly Whisper every evening, weather depending, and she looks gorgeous flying at dusk.  If it’s wet I bring her in to the house, which is much nicer for both of us!

Good evening Whisper

Good evening Whisper

Whisper evening flight

Whisper evening flight

A pretty good way to spend a day, I think 🙂

Playing indoors

Playing indoors

Owl Shoots in September

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On the last day of September my niece, Zinzi Graham came by to photograph the owls.  It was a glorious sunny afternoon and the owls behaved perfectly: as in they looked amazing – as usual – they looked cute – as usual – they were happy – as usual – and Peanut flew well – as usual! Peanut really enjoys interacting with people, and he has a good appetite which certainly helps to motivate him to fly to anyone holding a treat for him. I have read that Burrowing owls often have a big attitude for such a small bird.  Fortunately his big attitude is a very happy one!!

Smile!

Smile!

Zinzi took some really lovely shots; mostly of Peanut as Whisper decided she would siesta for the afternoon and really wasn’t going to be interested in food or flying at all, so she stayed on a bow perch in the shade – 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon really is too early if your’e a Barn owl!

BB by Zinzi

BB by Zinzi

   BB also preferred to take it easy…

…and Peanut flew – mostly with the sun directly behind him and I really love the way his wings are lit up showing his flight feathers beautifully.  Poor Zinzi was getting blinded every shot but still took this lovely one showing Peanut’s focus – he definitely is going to get that food.

Peanut in focus by Zinzi

Peanut in focus by Zinzi

We moved around the field a bit, working out different ways to capture Peanut just as he is flying – his wings move so quickly.  Whisper would be easier to capture in flight as nocturnal owls hardly flap their wings at all, keeping their flight as silent as possible while they hunt.  Burrowing owls are diurnal, active both day and night, and have a quicker wing movement. They don’t have the cover of night so don’t need to be silent.  But Whisper was asleep by now.

Zinzi even took some shots of me – though I didn’t know at the time…it felt like summer was here all over again.  Such a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.  I hope to be able to offer these sessions to more photographers soon – and really look forward to seeing the results of more owl shoots.

Peanut and Me by Zinzi

Peanut and Me by Zinzi

Apples and Owls

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While I could easily spend every day just chilling with my owls the rest of the garden chores are piling up so this week I had a catch up.  We have 6 apple trees which all have loads of fruit in spite of us being high on a hill where, apparently, apples don’t do well. The Discovery apples always look so red – like real Snow White apples!

Discovery Sept 2015

Discovery Sept 2015

Now the freezer is full of sliced and peeled apples and I still have a load more to deal with so Apple Jelly it is.

leftoversAs it has been raining more and getting dark earlier I have made a papermache burrow for indoor bird training sessions,

Burrow and Apple Jelly Sept 2015

Burrow and Apple Jelly Sept 2015

just a bit of fake grass on top and it’s finished – Hope Peanut likes it!

My lovely husband has made a 5 foot self standing perch so Whisper can fly indoors too. Now I am ready whatever the weather 🙂

Both birds have happily settled into the routine of daily weigh ins – it is essential to monitor their health and be sure they are of a good weight to fly them.  If they are too heavy they may not have cropped yet [cast a pellet, which also needs to be looked out for daily].  This will only lead to frustration as they will probably be more interested in everything and anything else rather than the food I am holding to entice them to fly to my hand for – as they wont be hungry until they have cast!  Equally if they are weighing too light they may be unwell or too hungry and ill tempered which will not give good quality flying time. Each bird is different, so it is difficult to state what weight a bird will behave at it’s best, which is why daily weighing and record keeping will give me the information over time.  Peanut and Whisper have got very used to standing on their scales every day.  Whisper is so relaxed she is standing on one foot…

Whisper weigh in Sept 2015

Whisper weigh in Sept 2015


Peanut weigh in Sept 2015

Peanut weigh in Sept 2015

Peanut usually weighs around 4.8 to 5 ounces, and keeps his focus flying well at this weight.  Occasionally he goes up to 5.2 ounces and isn’t interested at all – I am sure he catches bank voles in his aviary!

Whisper stays between 11.5 and 12 ounces and usually flies really well with good focus on the food.  She tends to be more easily distracted by noises than Peanut, although she is 3 weeks younger than him so still a bit nervous of new things.  The combine harvesters in a near field stopped our flying time short the other evening as there was no chance of getting her attention!  I forgave her though and the following evening my daughter took these beautiful shots of her in flight – stunning!!

Whisper evening flight

Whisper evening flight


Whisper evening flight 2

Whisper evening flight 2