Blimey! Buzzards!

Monday, 28 March 2011

If you get a chance to go on a bird of prey experience day I highly recommend doing it! Afterall, how else would you get up, close and personal with such beautiful birds? Like many people I'm sure, I didn't know what to expect as we approached Gauntlet Birds of Prey. There were hundreds of questions running through my mind, like "Will I be the only one?" or "How heavy are these birds going to be?" The place itself was a brilliant place to visit. The staff were passionate about what they do, the enclosures were clean and spacious and despite it being in the middle of nowhere (as most places are in Cheshire) it had a great professional air to it.

We started off the day with a buzzard, 10 month old kestrel, tawny owl and another owl who refused to keep quiet. They were fairly easy to handle but tying the falconers knot onto the glove was beyond me. I was quite happy to tie it to the stand, but once it came to tying the bird to my glove I was at a complete loss! I was shown 4 times and 4 times I failed miserably xD Next was flying an owl inside, after seeing a rather gross demonstration of how the food was prepared. My stomach is usually quite steady, but whether because I'd had little sleep or because I'm softening up, the sight of yolk and entrails spilling from the rear of a day old chick was a little too much.

Outside we played with hooded vultures and the Harris Hawks, both of which seemed content to either fly into me or hit me in the face repeatedly with their wings. It's surprising how much a thwap from one of those wings can hurt! Perhaps not so surprising in the case of the vulture, but certainly with the hawk. I felt like a naughty child being given an admonishing slap round the head.

All in all it was an amazing day and I'd love to do another one!!! Maybe kick it up a notch and go for eagles :D Though I could barely support a vulture on my arm, I hardly think an eagle is the way forward xD

Ferret Diaries 1

Thursday, 17 March 2011

As some of you may know I now have two new, beautiful ferrets named Guybrush and Flo. Since arriving with me, Guybrush and Flo have lived quite happily together despite their differences before coming here. Perhaps they accepted each other in the stress of moving, who knows but it's great to watch them curled up asleep on their cushion! They don't appear to sleep as deeply as Plode and Pep as whenever I move near the cage they're up and about to see what's going on.

So hopefully, I aim to get all four ferrets living together...Something which will take longer than I originally thought. But it's a challenge I'm all too willing to accept! It's been 5 days now of half hour introductions each day. Each time it starts out nice and civil. They all run around sniffing, playing with toys, seemingly oblivious of each other. Then Pep will launch herself at Guybrush and a mini fight will erupt. Plode keeps himself out of all the fights if he can and I think it's clear he's at the bottom of the hierarchy. But once the fighting has begun between Pep and Guybrush, Flo leaps in, almost in a tag-team effort, and really starts going at Pep. Yet makes yelps and squeals as if it's Pep attacking her. It hasn't changed in intensity in the past week, but I imagine things will begin to settle.  If Pep, Plode and Guybrush are out and Flo is caged then things seem to run smoother. Pep and Guybrush just need to sort out who's the top ferret!

Guybrush has begun a somewhat annoying habit of banging on the cage bars at 6am in an effort to get let out, which I'm stoically refusing to acknowledge. Needless to say it meant I had only 3 hours sleep last night so I'm somewhat knackered. Hopefully that habit will be kicked soon. Pep got out of it rather quickly when she was young. Though Guybrush is coming up to 2 years old now.

I think come Saturday evening I'll be giving them all a bath again to try and bring them together. It'll make them a lil stinkier, but behaviour needs to be sorted before I think about musky smells!

Disaster in Japan

Saturday, 12 March 2011

When major disasters happen in countries far away, although it saddens me and my heart goes out to the victims and families of victims, I guess I never really worried about it. I imagine it's probably the same for many other people, and although I'm not proud to say it, it's likely to do with the fact that it's so far away it couldn't possibly affect me. So when I woke up yesterday morning to hear about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, not 50 miles from where my best friend is living I was horrified. In fact. it still hadn't quite sunk in as I was walking to Uni and it took  a call from James to make me fully realise the seriousness of what had happened/was happening.  When I returned home from Uni I sat in front of my pc watching the BBC News live coverage, and must have remained their for a good 4 hours until Chris came, trying my best not to think the worst and to keep myself together. Even when Chris came I was watching the coverage for another couple of hours, not daring to move in case they said something which would be relevant to Amanda. I must have watched each report at least half a dozen times and it never said anything useful. It struck me that the news only reported about Tokyo and Sendai, purely because they were the only cities anyone in world was actually going to care about, with Sendai being the worst hit city and Tokyo being the capital.  It didn't matter that there were many other cities and towns suffering, as long as they covered the two major ones.

I know how bad I was feeling yesterday, and the worst was not knowing what was going on. Whether Amanda was hurt but safe, completely fine or the worst case scenario that I dare not think about. I can only imagine the worry her family were feeling.

Waking up this morning after a rather fitful night of sleep, both good news and bad news became apparent. We'd had word that Amanda was safe but with no power, a relief to all of us. But the nuclear power station that was across all the headlines yesterday due to the cooling system failure, that is situated only 20 miles away from Amanda's city, had now suffered an explosion and it is unsure as to whether it was a steam explosion or whether the reactor was going into meltdown. The news are trying to reassure everyone by saying it is unlikely it was a reactor breach, but the constant increase in exclusion zone fails to reassure me. Nor the silence about what the explosion actually was.

Looking at the pictures and videos of the devastation caused by the water and the quake, it's hard to imagine how the nation is feeling. Thousands of people have lost their homes though thankfully the Japanese are a prepared society and the death toll is much lower than it should have been. Had Britain suffered a disaster of this magnitude, I've no doubt half the population would be wiped out. As a nation we are far too complacent. Aid is being sent out and swiftly and hopefully Japan won't let this setback keep them down for long.

I myself wish I could do something to help.

Ferrets and other things!

Monday, 7 March 2011

The changing of the season is not going so well in my room at the moment. Beneath my quilt it can't decide whether to stay warm or go really cold and as such I'm having some pretty restless nights. Waking in the morning feeling like I've just gone to bed certainly isn't fun, I'm sure you can all agree. It doesn't help to be woken up by your darling ferret at 8am because for the third time in a week she's managed to escape her cage! I've just upgraded their cage to a double tiered one, having done some pretty experimental DIY on my part. What I hadn't banked on was Pep finding out how to push out one of the lower walls enough to squeeze up it. Three times I have come into my room to find it trashed. So now I've resorted to tape. Yes that most basic of tools! I'm hoping cellotaping the wall to the base will be enough to stop her pushing it away. The question is how strong is the tape???? We will soon find out I don't doubt.

Continuing on with ferrets, me and Chris took my two crazy critters to meet Tammy and Will's ferrets on Saturday morning to see how well they'd get on. Pep and Plode were obviously in their territory so there were a few altercations, none of which any more serious than battling it out for dominance. It became clear that Guybrush and mine got on well once Pep had established she was top dog by rolling poor Guybrush over and over again in a crocodile roll. Pep and Flo will be a little more of a challenge, but I'm convinced it will work. As such I'll be gladly looking after Guybrush and Flo and bringing the ferret count to 4 :D What is a group of ferrets called? I'm sure I can google it.

In the past week or so since receiving my results I've been applying for things left, right and centre. 3 PhD's and 3 jobs so far I think, though I'll be applying for more jobs this coming week and closely watching the PhD list for ones I might like to do. It's becoming quite stressful not knowing what I'll be doing when I finish my Masters, and especially stressful knowing my Masters doesn't finish till September and my rent contract end in June...If I knew I'd be continuing in Liverpool there would be no complications at all, I'd just find a new house and carry on. But until I know what I'm doing I'm in no man's land and I don't like it! I can't just go home like everyone else because I have a course to finish, but nor can I take out another contract in case I'm in say Edinburgh or Cambridge after the Masters.


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