This week we went over to Spalding in Lincolnshire to see our friend Marcia. She wanted us to see the Baytree Owl Centre whilst we were over there and I must admit that it was an excellent idea. It has a reputation for being one of the most extensive collections of Owls in the UK.
The birds are mainly housed in pens, often in pairs. They have nesting boxes and appear to be well balanced and calm in the presence of the general public.
The thing that struck me was the variety of different owl species represented within the collection. They came from all over the world.
If you are at the centre at 2pm, a selection of Owls will be demonstrated by the handlers in the indoor flight enclosure. You can sit on a comfortable padded seat and watch a small selection of owls flying.
Of course, there are occasions when the display is limited. It often depends upon the mood of the owls and the weather. The birds are not pushed to do anything they do not want to do, so it may be a 15 minute display or it may take a couple of hours. You take your luck! The staff seem to have a lot of time to talk and answer questions.
The pens are arranged in rows, a few at a time, with greenery and trees to break the view. I noticed that almost non of the pens were faced by other pens, most looking out onto vegetation of occasionally nearby walls. The exception being the pens in the warm room.
These owls are a pair who are kept within their own pen, but you can identify the owls that are used in the arena as they have leg straps fitted.
Some of the birds are quite curious and inquisitive, but beware, they can give a very nasty nip if you get too close. Their talons and beaks are well developed for tearing flesh.
This little devil is a Great Grey Eagle Owl chick hatched by a breeding pair called Mystery and Jergen. These Owls are found across Asia and the North Americas and the Owl Centre are quite excited about the chicks. They Snap their beaks as a warning to stay away.