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Here now is February's offering, followed by previous posts from January 2020 and December 2019 -
Chairman's Page February/March 2020
As I write this column, the country is being battered by fierce storms for the second weekend in succession, Parliament and the Royal Family still have their problems, and the population is worrying about Coronavirus, the sudden death of Caroline Flack, and who will be revealed on The Mask! Seriously though, the weather does affect breeding birds – both captive and wild. We have had a comparatively mild winter so far, which has encouraged many species to explore nest sites and start pairing up, only for the floods and gales to batter their nests and general environment. If you didn’t attend to essential bird-room maintenance last autumn, any leaks and weaknesses will certainly be exposed now!
Fortunately, rain has also arrived in Australia, to douse many of the disastrous fires. Trustees are in regular contact with long-term colleague Ray Ackroyd, as well as others involved with Glossy Black Cockatoos on Kangaroo Island, to establish where we can best provide financial support to aid recovery. Unfortunately, an apparently worthwhile project to send parrot feathers out to the USA to pass on to Native American tribes in the North and South of the continent has failed to get off the ground, owing to the costs and red tape involved on the American side.
Meanwhile, your hard-working Council and office staff have been renewing subscriptions and preparing for shows and events later this year. Younger and enthusiastic Trustees Hayley Baker, Mike Roxx and Adam Mogg have re-vamped our Facebook page and developed a new Instagram link, to keep pace with social media, and hopefully to reach a wider and younger audience. Direct links are available from our website: go to the top right-hand corner of the home page on www.theparrotsocietyuk.org.
I recently visited ZSL’s Regents Park Zoo with family members, after a gap of many years, to see what changes there have been. Whilst not renowned for a parrot collection, several interesting avian species were present. I am old enough to remember the opening of the iconic Snowdon Aviary in 1978, and this Grade II listed structure is retained as being of historic, cultural and architectural significance. Its original avian occupants have now been re-distributed around the Zoo, while it is to be re-developed as a home for a variety of monkey species, red duiker deer, and a flock of African grey parrots. These latter will showcase the plight of this popular parrot, whose wild counterparts have been devastated by the illegal wildlife trade. It should be an impressive exhibit when re-opened!
The iconic Snowdon Aviary at Regents Park Zoo, London
Alan Jones 16th February 2020
Chairman’s Page January 2020
A New Year begins, and as I write, dandelions and daisies are bravely peeking up through the muddied grass in the park. Snowdrops are out, and daffodils will not be far behind. A Brexit decision has finally been made, and another General Election has come and gone, while the Royal Family is in hiatus. I feel we are in for an interesting year ahead! Our first Council meeting of the year has taken place, with three new trustees welcomed on board, and much discussion about the future of The Parrot Society. Keep an eye out for new ideas as the year unfolds. All show dates, members’ days out, and related events have been finalised, and posted on our website. Some tweaks have made to the site to make it easier to navigate, and finally the ‘Members Only’ section should be up and running very soon! Please note that on-line booking for shows is available only nearer the show dates, and each will be announced on the website. Also, although annual membership of the Society includes all members of a household, entry wristbands are still restricted to just two per membership subscription.
Trustees are following with sympathy and concern the environmental tragedy of the extensive bush fires in Australia, and offers of financial support where needed have gone out to our contacts working with parrots out there. One photographer reports seeing green shoots of new growth in burnt areas, and hopefully these will increase rapidly now rain has come, but the immediate loss of wildlife, food sources, and nesting sites will take a long time to recover. Some estimates put it as long as one hundred years. We wait to hear of specific projects needing our help.
Meanwhile, back home, no doubt your breeding birds are getting well settled into laying eggs and raising their chicks. I wish you every success with your bird-keeping, and another year of working with a hard-working and enthusiastic group of Trustees for your benefit.
Alan Jones 20th January 2020
Chairman’s Report PSUK 52nd AGM Nov 2019
Much of what I said last year is still applicable, and bears repeating: I continue to enjoy my retirement from full time veterinary work by devoting more time and effort to The Parrot Society as its Chairman, and once again it has been a pleasure to work with such an enthusiastic and close-knit team. We have achieved a lot this year, with further plans and ideas for next year and beyond.
Our Treasurer continues to work very hard in monitoring our accounts, and will report a further reduction in income over expenditure this year. However, for the moment the Society still has a healthy bank balance, thanks largely to a substantial legacy, but we clearly cannot rely on such windfalls, and active planning is continuing in Council for the long-term financial security of the Society. Measures to reduce costs and expenditure, and simultaneously raise income and membership, are still at the forefront of Trustees’ discussions, and hopefully will show benefit in the coming year.
The Parrot Society’s major source of planned income continues to be our shows at Stafford, with The National Exhibition at Stafford County Showground in October being the largest and most successful. It is well supported by increasingly more branches of bird keeping. My thanks to all the many people who are involved in putting these shows together and ensuring that they run as smoothly as they generally do. The new display aviaries organised by Mike Roxx and Kevin Pickup were a big hit, and the progression of this idea into a competition open to bird clubs to display a variety of bird species is a promising development for the future. We look forward to the first such competition at our show next month. Support for this project in the form of certificates for the best displays provided by Cage & Aviary Birds is a reflection of the closer relationship we have had with this publication in recent years. The considerable financial and practical support given to our shows by Johnston & Jeffs is also gratefully acknowledged.
I cannot speak for Flamingo Land, but our days out to Birdworld and Desford Bird Park were disappointingly poorly supported this year. However, the newer event at Paradise Park was more successful, and hopefully we shall return next year. Beale Park is perhaps the most successful because of the liaison with other Societies, and the excellent new education centre as a meeting house. Perhaps involving other bird groups may improve the numbers attending our other venues in the future? I am reluctant to see these days out disappear, as they offer great social occasions to members. The planned new macaw aviary at Beale Park is a project with which the Parrot Society will be heavily involved.
Again, apart from our own shows, The Parrot Society has maintained a useful presence at the Spring Show at Stafford, and other shows at Newark, as well as having a stand at Think Parrots at Kempton Park. The re-designed website is still progressing, while our Facebook presence continues rapidly to attract new visitors and stimulate interest. Unfortunately, the development of the ‘Members Only’ section of the website has been further delayed. The necessary upgrade to the members’ database has been completed, but it cannot yet be implemented on the office computers until the very poor internet access at that site has been resolved. Several worldwide parrot Conservation Projects continue to receive our financial support, with feedback proving positive for the most part. Demand will undoubtedly continue in this area, owing to extreme weather conditions such as forest fires, severe flooding or drought, habitat destruction and political unrest.
I continue to give talks to various groups about avian veterinary medicine and parrots, and The Parrot Society always receives a mention. The most recent of these talks was a prestigious double 11/2 hour presentation on board a cruise ship in the western Caribbean, to approximately 40 ‘Parrot Lovers’, with land excursions to several notable avian collections!
I have also represented The Parrot Society at DEFRA and Companion Animal Sector Council (CASC) meetings, and there is a further such meeting scheduled for December.
I am pleased and honoured to have served, and continue to serve, as Chairman of The Parrot Society UK, and I feel that we continue to achieve much good work. In the current climate of elections and manifestoes, I would like to make the following comments. Over fifty years ago The Parrot Society was founded, with the following fundamental statement – “To encourage the study and conservation of parrot-like birds in freedom and captivity”. I totally understand and fully accept that the bulk of our income comes from our shows, and that without that income the society would quickly fail. But we are neither a high-flying commercial business, nor just an ‘old-boys club’ - we are a charitable organisation, and we should fulfil those charitable objectives. There is still an appalling amount of ignorance and even cruelty out there among the parrot-owning public. I would like to see a lot more done with our years of experience and expertise in keeping and breeding parrots used to educate, and generally improve the lot of parrots, rather than just being a facilitator for trading these birds. To that end I will continue to encourage and support such efforts, and that is the platform on which I would like to move forward as Chairman for another year. We have a great team that will continue to build on this success, and promote the Society. Our final show of the year on 1st December – Help the Bird Keepers – should end this season on a good note.
Finally it remains for me to wish all members and your families a Happy and stress-free Christmas, and we all wish for a healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year. Thank you for your time, interest, hard work, and support!
Alan Jones, 17 November 2019
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