20/12/2013 – Christmas is a coming

It’s now the final countdown to Christmas and although it’s a few days before the big day, we are busy getting ready even now.
In the weeks before Christmas it is a case of making sure that we have enough supplies to see us over the festive/New Year period as a lot of our suppliers are closed. Extra fruit has been delivered as has a bulk order of corn. Deliveries of crane, pheasant and waterfowl pellet mean that the birds won’t be going hungry over Christmas.
From Sunday onwards the keepers will be preparing their aviaries indoor quarters. Fresh bedding (straw or wood shavings) will be going down, perches cleaned and fresh water dishes provided. For the day itself some of the birds will be kept in so it’s important to make sure they are going to be kept as comfortable, clean, fed and watered as possible. We will also have a check to see that all the heat sources are working so that we can replace anything that is not functioning.
On Monday night, just before we go home we will be getting twice the usual amount of fruit, chicks and fish out ready for Christmas Eve. That means we can prepare Christmas Days and Boxing Days feeds on Christmas Eve, meaning the Keepers working on Christmas Day won’t be spending a couple of hours on food prep. Clean food dishes will go out in all aviaries on the 24th and all ponds will be cleaned.
Then it is the day itself. This year myself and Chris are working, whilst Rob & Helen will do New Years Day. As Christmas Day is the only day of the year that we are shut (weather permitting) we will probably start a little earlier than normal. If everything has been prepared the previous day all we will have to do is make sure everyone is alive and accounted for, feed the animals and make sure everything is OK (electrics, aviaries etc).
All the feeds will be in tubs ready so we can head around and add food as necessary. As I said earlier, some of the birds will be kept in for the day. In total we will probably be at work for about 3-4 hours before heading home for food and presents. Chris lives on site so is on hand to check things before the day is out.
In this weeks news……
A Male Hammerkop has departed for Flamingoland in Yorkshire. Simon has taken the bird up and is bringing back with him 2 Pink Backed Pelicans, 4 Fulvous Tree Duck, 2 Cattle Egret, 2 Little Egret, a female Crowned Crane & a male Coscoroba Swan. Unfortunately, at 1pm I had a phonecall to say he had broken down and was awaiting rescue.  All the new birds were OK and I believe they finally arrived at about 8pm last night.  We had pens ready around the park but because of the delays all the new arrivals have gone into our quarantine shed for now.  We’ll get some photos for next week
Both species of Egret are also new to us and will be housed in the aviary opposite the café. They will be pretty similar to our Ibis and Spoonbill in terms of requirements, with a diet of mince meat, fish and chicks.   The Pelicans and Swan will be introduced straight to their respective groups and the Ducks and Crane will be off show for a weeks quarantine.
The Ross’ Geese females are both looking in better condition this week and have been moved to an outdoor off show area to meet the new male from Pensthorpe.
With the departure of one male Hammerkop, we have been able to move another male from an off show area into the Azure Winged Magpie aviary. This male stayed with us as he is originally a Flamingoland bird and probably related to their female, hence the other male departed.
Still not a great deal coming into the nature area, Coal Tit are regularly seen as are Bullfinch. A Peacock & 3 Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies have been seen this week.
This is the penultimate blog of the year, next week I’ll round up the year.
Thanks as always for reading and a very Merry Christmas to you all

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