I’m not going to lie its hard work trying to get everything done. Setting up as a charity has been a life long dream but it doesn’t make it any easier getting stuff done, if anything it makes it worse because the expectations are increased now we have some form of platform to work from.
The biggest issue will always be raising funds and then where to direct these funds, its a hugely competitive area, charities and fundraising and we are just small fry at the moment. I have to admit that one of my weaknesses several friends have pointed out to me in the past is how blase I am when it comes to money, its not because I’m rich (I’m certainly not) it’s because it doesn’t rule my world. I get asked how much to do a talk and I say make a donation of whatever you feel necessary when maybe people need some direction. This is partly also because I don’t want Raptor Aid to be exclusive to just those that can afford to make a set donation. I’ve been to some schools for instance where the head is probably on a six figure salary and then I’ve been to another school where they won a scarecrow designing competition and with the prize money paid for us to come in and carry out workshops because they couldn’t afford it otherwise.
This also worries me because although we don’t take captive birds into schools there are many organisations that do and we have found the cheaper ones are the ones which often don’t have the correct paperwork in place (Insurance etc), have poor welfare and ethical standards and are giving out bad inaccurate information. There are amendments in the Animal Welfare act taking place as we speak which we hope with the support of the wider bird of prey captive community will protect the birds.
One of the biggest issues I personally find with many people using birds of prey commercially is they don’t see the birds as individuals and by that I mean individuals with their own personal needs and cognitive abilities. It’s easy to turn individualism with animals into anthropomorphism and that would be wrong. I mean that when an event or school books an ‘owl man/woman’ or something similar to visit they often (not always) check for public liability, risk assessment and provide hand gels for the humans but they never stop to think about what the birds might need in terms of personal space and respect. It still amazes me how many can find it acceptable to pass any individual animal around a large group of people repetitively and find this acceptable for the animals individual needs and overall welfare.
It will be interesting to see how the amendments to the welfare act play out and we will keep you updated as we find out more. What can you do? well as March turns into April and we move into the summer months, if you see a bird of prey (or animal exhibit) please stop, take a step back and ask yourself whether you feel it is being carried out ethically and with the welfare of the animals in mind. As always if you have any concerns let us know.
The nest monitoring season is upon us, there will be Tawny owls and Ravens already sat on eggs so we will start checking them in the next couple of weeks. Last week I got excited as I thought we had a pair of Ravens moving into the local church yard, they are about today flying around but sadly I don’t think they have nested as it’s been very quite the last couple of weeks. The bad weather played havoc with us visiting Scotland to start our annual Golden Eagle monitoring, we now have a potential trip back out to the Philippines getting in the way so it won’t be until the eagles have chicks in nest’s before we can make it up which isn’t ideal for finding active nest’s. The trip to the Philippines is a bit up in the air, I can see it being a last minute flight if it does happen but I can explain more in another blog, what I can say is the chick from the image I shared previously is doing well and if you haven’t been on our Facebook then get on there and check out the brilliant clips of the film made by Cornell on the Philippine eagle!
On the topic of cold weather, last night I went out to monitor Long Eared owls at a site near to my home. I went with a friend who I’m not sure took to monitoring this species of owl, there’s a reason LEO’s are so under studied in the UK, because it was freezing and dark and we didn’t hear one! Nearly two hour’s stood in the cold pitch black on the edge of a plantation meeting a moor isn’t most peoples idea of a night out. They have bred in the area though in the past and we’ll need to do a few more nights to make sure we don’t miss anything. Maybe I’ll do a Vlog to show you all next time.
As always there is a load more things I won’t tell you for fear of them not happening but this year is going to be fun trying to get many projects off the ground and collaborating with people. I decided when starting Raptor Aid as a charity that is the way forward, collaboration and education, you don’t need money you just need passion!
Get out and watch them birds!
P.s apologies for no pictures, I’ve got a new phone with no images on it, in fact I can’t work how half of its functions work!