Our lives are ruled by the birds and their needs and so whatever procedures are put in place, they change and grow as the changing needs of the birds and the visitors are understood.
Although we have some staff who are not working with the birds who help with the running of the office, shop café and gardens, we like to think that we are all a team, that no one person is better or less vital than another. We all get together everyday at coffee time, which we share with the dogs and on occasion young birds that might be being hand reared. Here we talk about the day, celebrate birthdays and discuss anything that might be coming up. It adds to the feeling of family which is what we aim at for the visitors. Coffee time can have three people and up to 18 on a good day!
We work seven days a week regardless of whether or not we are open to the public - the birds still need to be fed and cared for. We start at 8.00am every day and finish at about 6.00pm, earlier in the winter as we stop when it gets dark, later in the summer if we are training birds and sit down with a glass of wine afterwards!
Some days we work much later if we are looking for a missing bird. I think the latest recently was midnight when we finally retrieved the White-tailed Sea-eagle. And my staff never complain, they all pull together and out they all come, including volunteers as we trapse around the countryside in the cold and wet following a bird!
Often bird staff are invited to join from the volunteer base, this is a great way to get to know people and what they can do for the Centre, and at the same time for those interested, to understand the work here and what it involves.
We will be doing a myriad of tasks during the day, and these can change by the minute. It's sometimes frustrating not to be able to get on with a job because other things impinge, but you only have to look at the Centre and meet the staff - all of them - to see that it generally looks wonderful and the dedication of those who work here is obviously to all that visit.
All the bird staff have their own team of birds to be responsible for, some of the birds are choosy and prefer just one person, others don't give a damn who feeds and flies them! Sadly for Simon and Holly who do the bulk of the feeding in the mornings, they are not always popular with the breeding birds who know them well by sight.
Of course in how we are run, one should never forget the dogs who are an integral part of the Centre. They join us for coffee and meals, help with the tasks, they are particularly helpful when gardening, and without them the atmosphere would not be as much fun.
All in all it is not really a career, it is more of a vocation to work here, its hard work, but the rewards can be high, although even more sadly not financially!
Neil Forbs from Great Western Exotic Vets
International Centre For Birds of Prey
Present the perfect course for raptor keepers, falconers, zoos keepers, demonstrators, educationalists in raptor understanding and owl keepers.
‘Management of birds of prey for health and longevity’
One Day Course
Presented by Neil A Forbes DipECZM(avian) FRCVS RCVS and European Specialist in Bird Medicine
Two dates available
Sunday February 5th 2017
Saturday April 1st 2017
0900h – 1630h
At: International Centre for Birds of Prey
Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1JJ
Cost £85 for one day
Includes lunch, refreshments + comprehensive A4 course notes
Please phone to book at: 01531 820286