Monday, 4 February 2013

Radical Raptors

Back in PMB, I had the awesome privelege of going to Raptor Rehab run by Ben Hoffman, part of the African Birds of Prey Sanctuary, to ring some rehabilitated raptors. To see these powerful birds up close is really amazing, and then to handle them and ring them, and on occasion to release them, what a pleasure! Just before I left for Plett, a group of us (Lindy, Patrick, Shane, my dad and myself) went to ring some of the rehab birds, which are at various stages of rehabilitation and will one day be ready for release. I had a wonderful time and thought it would be the last time I would ring rehab raptors.

Holding a Jackal Buzzard, Buteo rufofuscus. Photo by Lindy Thompson.
My crazy people, Patrick (left), Lindy (back) and Shane (front), ringing a Long-crested Eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis.

But last week I went with Mark to Radical Raptors, birds of prey rehabilitation and awareness centre, run by Dennis Robson, to ring some owls. Maybe it is their beautiful big eyes, watching everything, or the impressive snap/click type sound that they make with their beaks, but owls seem a little more aggressive and scarier in the hand than some of the other raptors I've handled. Mark and I each ringed 2 Spotted Eagle Owls, Bubo africanus, that had been brought to the centre as fluffballs that people had picked up off the ground thinking they had fallen out of their nests. The birds are all under six months old and are ready for release into the real world, now with metal rings around their legs! I took the opportunity after ringing to have a quick look around the centre, it is a well kept, well presented centre although it does have a smaller selection of birds than ABoPS, but this is not necessarily a bad thing considering why the birds are kept in captivity. I am looking forward to return trips to the centre, and hopefully some more rehab birds to ring for release!
Grumpy bird! Bubo africanus. Photo by Mark Brown.
Measuring the bill as Dennis holds the bird. Photo by Mark Brown.

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