COMMUNITY: Gainsborough U3A

Community event.
Community event.

Annette McKenzie returned to U3A to talk about her involvement with birds of prey, particularly owls, and to introduce memberss to two of her friends.

Both of her avian pals were delightful and well behaved, even if her smaller friend was unwilling to share his bark.

Annette’s love of birds of prey dates back to 1996 and a Christmas present which was a gift of an ‘Insight Day’ at a butterfly park which happened, also, to have birds of prey.

Arguably this must have been the most successful Christmas present of all time as her involvement with this park lasted for a further 13 years and she finished as head falconer.

The group were then introduced to Barney, a barn owl, who had been borrowed as Boogie, Annette’s own barn owl, had sadly died just before Christmas. It was evident that Barney had quickly developed a friendly relationship with Annette and he showed off by taking very careful note of all his surroundings. He was a splendid animal and showed members his wings, when asked. Whilst showing Barney to the audience Annette gave a wealth of information about the barn owl and explained that numbers have dropped alarmingly due to a several factors – not just humans, but we take most of the blame.

Next, members met Eric who was a little owl. This species of owl is not native to the British Isles, but was introduced into the country to remove cockroaches from houses and has since thrived in the country.

As mentioned above, Eric was well behaved, but would not bark on request. This was a little disappointing as he was said to be very noisy most of the time. One of the little owl’s major defensive techniques is the fact that the back of its head resembles the front, so that confuses predators which do not know whether they are being watched or not. Annette explained that he had rather stubby wings and a very short tail, but he didn’t take umbrage and again looked splendid and studied his audience carefully.

This was a fascinating talk and the time passed very quickly. The session was completed by questions and then the opportunity for members to have photographs taken holding one of the birds.

The next meeting is on February 9,when John Terry will be speaking on “Hopping On and Off in Strange Places”.

Meets at Gainsborough Methodist Church, North Street, Gainsborough, for refreshments at 10am and the talk will start at 10.30am. Visitors welcome.