SANCTUARY NEWS - SPRING INTO SUMMER 2017
This year is whizzing by, seems to go faster every year. Thankfully I am now fully recovered from my repair operation and have to say I feel better than I did all last year. I hadn't realised just how much I had been affected, and as I can now eat properly again, amazing just how good food tastes.
We have had some lovely weather but then it turns cold again just as everything is growing away well. Hopefully late frosts won't spoil the blossom or affect the crops. Not much rain and some hot weather inevitably starts talk of drought! Things are certainly early this year and the swallows are back already; delighted to see our stable swallows make it back safely and hopefully they will raise a couple of broods this year.
We have been very busy with rearing baby birds and all the residents are fine. April has been birthday month for our goats, the girls were four on the 20th and the boys celebrated their first birthday on the 28th. Special biscuits on the day went down very well. It was also our tawny owl, Wol's 23rd birthday. He is now our oldest resident.
We have had to add extra bowls of food to 'Wood Pigeon Cafe' as we now have two regular squirrels attending each day, both reluctant to share with the many birds trying to feed. It is fast becoming a popular place in the area. Not quite so welcome although they still have to eat and we do not turn anything away, we have also had a rat visit on a couple of occasions but soon seen off by the squirrels. I am sure he could well find food with the peacocks next door.
Delighted to say we have another first for the sanctuary, we have taken in a raven. Bramble is a mystery, at first we thought he was a young bird learning to fly but the scaling on his legs and feet suggest he is an older adult. However, he cannot fly, he can flutter about but doesn't get any height, also he doesn't behave like a wild bird, even with the large door of his unit open during cleaning out, he makes no attempt to get out, in fact he doesn't seem to like being out much, and despite his large strong beak he makes no attempt to peck, also when cleaning him out, I can hold him in one arm like a baby and he just lies there looking at me. He seems wary of men and tends to panic if Paul sees to his unit or gets too close. As far as I know there are not ravens in the area so we conclude he may have been falsely captive and escaped, also that he could have been hobbled to prevent him flying away and no doubt a man was involved in that hence his anxiety. He was riddled with feather mite when he came in causing baldness around his beak, that has been totally cleared up now and we have him on vitamin drops to improve his condition and passiflora for his anxiety. Bramble is moulting at the moment, when he gets his new feathers he will be a beautiful bird and quite a character. He has settled in well, eats well and we are enjoying the experience of a raven resident.
Our squirrel, Nutmeg, is another character. She is happiest when demolishing something, wood gets chewed to pieces in no time. We give her plenty of things to amuse her, at the moment she is working her way through a bird suet roll holder. She still loves her teddy bear and sometimes carries it around in the unit, and her baby pouch is still most popular for sleeping in. We have discovered what a diverse diet squirrels seem to enjoy, Nutmeg loves dandelion flowers and leaves, cabbage leaves, other weeds and a whole range of treats made for rabbits etc as well as the more expected nuts and fruit she has daily. Even blades of grass have been enjoyed, many things we would not expect to see squirrels eat. Obviously they are known for raiding bird feeders but it is certainly an education finding the wide range of foods she enjoys. Nutmeg is very playful, and can also be quite aggressive at times. Her unit is her personal territory and she does defend it vigorously. Even being hand reared, Paul has to use gauntlets to clean it out as she has extremely sharp teeth.
Sadly our adult cockroaches have all now died so I am glad I got photos of some in time, but we do have a lot of babies to create a new generation, including a completely white one! We do hope that one grows into a beautiful adult and maybe can produce more white roaches. Like all creatures they are quite fascinating to study and have experience of, and while pet roaches may not be to everyone's taste, they are very low maintenance and very interesting.
I know it is a deeply held personal view and I have moaned before about the fanatic 'if it is wild it must be in the wild or die' attitude of some animal organisations. We have raised many wild creatures here unable to go back to the wild and successfully given them happy healthy lives in the sanctuary. Not only that, we have had amazing experiences getting to know various species really well. What a sad loss to put an animal or bird down just because it cannot be wild, and of course, it is not all sweetness and light in the wild. It can be very difficult for many species given the encroachment of humans and destruction of environments. As with any successful life in a sanctuary, the criteria must be if the creature thrives; if it does it is happy and content. If it doesn't, it will simply give up and fade away without any human interference or a needle to end its life. And please never forget, every domestic pet that now share our lives was once a wild animal; a wolf, a wild cat, a wild bird, a wild rodent, so why shouldn't every wild creature have the chance of a life free from the challenges of the wild in a safe loving environment, if there is no alternative. They gain, we gain, and wild creatures are just as capable of loving us and sharing life with us as we do them, so what gives these 'must be in the wild' advocates the idea they know it all?
Another moan I have and we have encountered yet again are the various housing people who refuse folk their pets when they are forced to move. It is so sad to hear someone very clearly upset, even devastated, at having to part with a dear much loved pet, sometimes quite an elderly pet too. These heartless landlords etc give no thought to how that pet must suffer too, yes, they really do have feelings and for an elderly pet it can be very confusing. How much better it would be to agree for that pet to live out its life with those owners and then say no more. How much more compassionate would that be and would it really be so hard to do? Of course not. How many children have to grow up without the benefit of caring for and sharing life with a treasured pet? And how much do those heartless rules result in disruptive behaviour later on? Think about it, for the majority who truly care for animals, a pet brings many benefits including healthwise.
Finally, we have had a happy event in the sanctuary, Acorn and Cone hatched two baby pigeons. After a disappointing start last year when several eggs were laid but none hatched, it was a real joy to see these two lovely babies in the nest. They hatched on St. Georges Day, must be a good omen, although sadly one of the chicks didn't make it, the other is doing well, growing and developing daily. This chick, at just over a week old and quite feisty, he or she started bashing us with a wing and tried to peck, amazing the survival instinct of all creatures.
We did plan to release this pigeon once it could fly but realised the parents are not wild pigeons Both are ringed so captive raised birds. Wild pigeons teach their young how to find food but these will teach that food and water comes in bowls, so Coconut, as we have named him or her, will hopefully join Cedar as a companion in our huge pigeon unit.
What a shame the Conservative manifesto plans yet again a vote on repealing The Hunting Act, big vote loser with 80% against hunting in this country and surely many more important issues to deal with; but pleased to see there is a group called 'Conservatives Against Hunting', all power to them! Hopefully enough will be elected to force Mrs. May to abandon that vote the way Cameron had to.
Our thanks to all our supporters and fund-raisers.
More news soon from the sanctuary.