One of our local conservation organisations, the Greensand Trust, holds a yearly “feed the birds” day where kids are actively encouraged to get messy making feeders stuffed with fat and seeds. Large pine cones and logs with holes are a couple of natural feeder designs used. Being a Greensand Trust volunteer, Carol tends to get in on the act, getting equally as messy, if not messier than the children. It’s a great way of trying to get the youngsters more engaged with wildlife.
There are a number of side shows, too. The BTO comes along to demonstrate the ringing of wild birds. Mist nets are set up with recordings of bird song acting as a lure, and the subjects thus trapped, all in a good cause and delicately handled by experts, are shown to the public before being and ringed and released. This year, unfortunately, they seemed to net just a solitary Goldcrest, so there wasn’t much ringing going on to keep the adoring public amused, or the poor BTO, come to that. It’s possible that a veranda extension has now been made too close to the normal netting site and was keeping the little darlings (the birds, not the kids) away.
The RSPB was on hand to bang its worthwhile drum, too. The RSPB seems to be changing its focus a little into a supporter of wildlife in general, as opposed to its original focus on birds, and this is a change that I wholeheartedly support. They do an excellent job with general wildlife sites and lobbying our normally insensitive government.
The most interesting thing for me was the presence of a raptor rescue organization, including flying demos. Regrettably, since raptors tend to swoop low before flying up to a handheld lure, decent flight shots were nigh on impossible given the nasty orange plastic netting and Joe Public background surrounding the entire flight area. However, sitting on perches rather more statically were about six birds which they’d brought along, including a Harris Hawk, an impressive Eagle Owl and a very sleepy-looking Tawny Owl. Most peoples’ favourite, though, was a very attractive Barn Owl and it was this, which clearly has a sense of theatre, that posed before a nearly black background to make what I think is a decent portrait shot. There’s even a delicate catch-light in the eye. This beautiful creature is called Trevor (go figure), though it shouldn’t be ‘cos it’s a female, supposedly. The original naming was due to incorrect sexing as a youngster (something to do with flecks, or lack thereof, on the chest).
OK, it’s a captive bird so not technically wildlife but it’s an irresistible little chapess, no?