This week we have been preparing for 2014! Now I know it’s only September but it’s crucial that any plans for the future are established and in place so work can begin.
The keepers sat down with Simon (our Manager), John (grounds) & Sam & Emily (gift shop) to swap thoughts and ideas to attract more visitors and improve their experience once on site. Obviously I can’t go into too many details but things discussed included improved signage around the park (directional & informative), the potential for more talks/public interaction and what would be needed & if we could improve parts of the park.
We also discussed any work that needed doing on the aviaries to improve them for the public, and more importantly, the birds. We also talked about aviaries we would like to see & the birds that would go in them. In the next few weeks we will be reviewing the year in terms of breeding successes (& failures), birds we have lost throughout the year and anything that we want to pair up or move on.
As the breeding season draws to an end for most species, zoos and bird parks around the country will be circulating lists of what birds they are trying to bring into their collections and what they have available to move on. We are no different and watch this space over the next few months as we look to bring in species both new and already present.
The keepers hold regular staff meetings to discuss jobs that need doing, whats happening on the various sections and health and safety so a larger meeting like we had this week is always good to hear the thoughts of others and to get an idea of what may be happening. It also helps when you get breakfast thrown in!
For guests who have visited over the past few months, you may have seen that the 2 aviaries near the cafe have been empty. The old Roller aviary, facing the picnic shelter, is suffering from rotten posts so the birds have been removed and the pen will be renovated soon.
The aviary opposite the cafe is getting a face lift, with new shelters and a larger pond going in. We also have to screen off the large oil tank for the house beside the cafe. Work has started on the pond this week and we will hopefully have this aviary up and running for the winter.
When designing an aviary we must consider what it will be housing. The plan for this aviary is to establish a second group of Azure Winged Magpies, along with Hammerkop & Egret, whilst having ducks and or plovers on the floor. With this is mind we have to consider shelter as we will have to shut some of these birds in overnight during the winter. As you can see on the picture 2 sheds are present, the one with entrance porches at different heights. Heat lights will be set up in here on thermostat so if the temperature drops too low, heat is provided
The birds will also require shelter outside from the rain, so plastic sheets will provide this. Perching is essential as the Magpies rarely come to the ground whilst the Egrets & Hammerkop will nest in shrubs/trees so there must be ample places for the birds to do this. All birds need water but the keepers must be able to clean the pond so drainage has to be considered. The ease of cleaning must also be factored in, theres no point having all the perching 8 foot off the floor if the keeper can’t reach to clean and replace. Access to the aviary must also be considered, can we get a ladder in or a wheelbarrow.
We’ll keep you posted on developments
News this week:
2 Emerald Dove chicks hatched yesterday and are with the parents and their 3 older siblings
The Java Sparrows also have chicks, with at least 4 hatching this week. The Javas are doing so well we have moved 15 of the group into the Desert House this week
We have taken the chance to clip a lot of the birds this week, before it gets windier and we have keepers away. The Caribbean Flamingos, Pink Backed Pelicans, Marabou Storks and Macaws have been trimmed.
We have moved to Nicobar Pigeon into the aviary boulevard as after 4 months he has decided to chance some of the other ground birds in his aviary. The Palawan Peacock Pheasant has moved into the Trumpeter Hornbill pen to make room
Monty, the hand reared Military Macaw, is nearly fully feathered and starting to wean itself. He/she is also exploring a lot and has been moved to a large pen as he/she kept climbing out of its container
Wildlife wise Kingfisher(s) are being seen at least 5 times a day at all parts of the park. A Sparrowhawk is hanging around having been seen twice this week, last night sat on top of the Desert House watching the Bee-Eaters. Thankfully he can’t get in. Swallows are still present.
Butterfly numbers are still steady, mainly with various Whites around. A Speckled Wood has been seen
We also found a Yellow Tailed Moth Caterpillar this week, on Simons neck where he was pruning!
Thanks for the read