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Chairman’s Page September 2021
Arrangements for our long-awaited National Exhibition on Sunday 3rd October, at Stafford County Showground continue apace, with many bookings already made and enquiries coming in. Traders are booking space, and specialist clubs are booking for the Exhibition side. Bookings may be made via the office, or our website, going via the Shop - https://theparrotsocietyuk.org/site/index.php/shop/
Some special precautions will need to be in place to reduce any Covid risk, but hopefully these will be minimal and manageable, and will not detract from the anticipated success of the show.
Once again we hope to have attractive display aviaries, with various species set up by PSUK trustees and helpers. On this occasion, there will be no judged competition, just an exhibit to show people what can be done with a number of different species.
The National Exhibition will be followed by our AGM in November (21st). All nominations for trustees and officers to be elected should by now have been received in the Parrot Society office. The venue announced in last month’s magazine of the Quality Hotel, Allesley, Coventry, will not now be correct, as we were notified at short notice that the hotel has been taken over, and will be closed for refurbishment. We are looking out for an alternative venue at a central location, and this will be announced in the October magazine and on our website.
We have come through over eighteen months of dramatic lifestyle changes owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, and now faced with renewed turmoil in the Middle East, and also undeniable signs of global warming, who knows what the long-term future has for us all? Meanwhile, rest assured that your Council is working hard to sustain the Parrot Society UK during difficulty times, and we will do our very best to put on a successful National Exhibition at Stafford next month.
Alan K Jones Aug 16, 2021
Chairman’s Page August 2021
At long last it would appear that we will be able to go ahead with our major event of the year, The National Exhibition on Sunday 3rd October, at Stafford County Showground, as well as our Help the Birdkeepers Show on Sunday 5th December, at the same venue. Nothing is absolutely set in stone in these volatile times – look at what has happened repeatedly to people planning holidays abroad – but much discussion took place at our first live face-to-face Council meeting for sixteen months, about how we would manage and organise these events. I am pleased to say that bookings are now available for entry wristbands and sales tables – further details are given elsewhere in this magazine. Bookings may be made via the office, or our website, going via the Shop - PSUK Shop
Already interest is growing fast, both for the sale and show side, and the Exhibition from a variety of different breed societies. I am sure you will enjoy the unique atmosphere of this event, as well as the opportunity to meet up again with fellow-parrot enthusiasts. However, I am sure that as mature parrot people, we can be far better behaved than some English so-called football fans!
Once again, we apologise for the long delay on reaching a decision about our shows, but clearly, we had to be guided by Government decisions and regulations, and the ongoing unfolding of this prolonged, nightmare coronavirus saga. Let us hope that this is genuinely light at the end of a very long tunnel.
This is also the time of year that we start to prepare for the AGM in November. To that end, may I remind you that all nominations for trustees and officers to be elected at the AGM must be received in writing in the Parrot Society office by 31st August. We particularly need a new treasurer, if anyone has the interest and ability! Any potential suggested amendments to our Constitution would also need to be received in writing by this date, and possible changes will then be published in our September magazine for your scrutiny.
So now enjoy your birds, enjoy the summer, and look forward to a gradual return to normality – get booking!
Alan K Jones July 18, 2021
Chairman’s Page July 2021
I write this column on what was supposed to be ‘Freedom Day’, with the releasing of all Covid-related restrictions. In the event, it is not to be, with probably at least another month to go before such restrictions are eased. This in spite of the fact that a large percentage of vulnerable adults are now fully vaccinated, while hospital admissions and deaths due to Covid remain low. Thank goodness we did not attempt to go ahead with our July Summer Show. This month’s issue of the magazine normally would contain booking details and prices for our October National Exhibition. This time last year, I was writing to confirm that the 2020 Exhibition had been cancelled, but we are still as yet hopeful that both the National Exhibition in October and The December ‘Help the Birdkeepers’ show will go ahead. Our secretary Les Rance has more to say on the subject elsewhere in this magazine, but unfortunately, although hopeful, we still cannot give a definitive answer. At Stafford County Showground, two smaller events were scheduled for June, and showground staff are hopeful that by mid-July the social distancing restrictions will be removed and then their County Show on 25/26thAugust can take place. We have our first live face-to-face Council meeting on 4th July, so hopefully we will be able to make positive decisions then. The results will obviously be printed in next month’s magazine, but look out for earlier updates on our website or Facebook page.
Talking of the website: it is an ongoing and vexatious issue to many members who live in more distant or rural parts of the country, that the vagaries of our postal service mean that they receive their magazines some days later than the bulk of our UK subscribers. This puts them at a disadvantage if they are anxious to check out the adverts for new birds. A tiered postal rate, or staggered posting schedule, would be logistical and financial nightmares, and would inevitably lead to a substantial rise in annual subscription. Trustees have decided that the simplest practical solution will be to post the advertisements in the Members Only section of our website, two days after the mailing date, which is the day that most magazines arrive through your letterboxes. Whilst we realise that not all our members are computer-savvy, the majority now are, and this will be the most equitable way of reaching most of you in timely fashion. If you are not already signed up to the Members Only section, then follow the link from the Home Page of the website and register, then you will find a page within the Members Only entitled ‘Monthly Adverts’.
I can only apologise for the lack of information and decision about our shows in October and December, but we have to be guided by Government decisions and regulations, and the ongoing unfolding of this prolonged, nightmare coronavirus saga. We will do our best to keep you informed as quickly as possible.
Alan K Jones June 21, 2021
Chairman’s Page June 2021
I thought that last month’s (May) magazine had a good mixture of practical articles for all branches of parrot-keeping from pet parrots and children, through the diet of wild Military macaws, with considerable scientific support, to the breeding of ever-popular grass parakeets in captivity, and a single-species in-depth description of the Meyer’s parrot. Well done to all involved! I am quite sure that many of our members have built up a wealth of experience in keeping their chosen species of parrot – whether it be in a breeding collection or as a family pet. Why not share those experiences and write an article for this magazine? Other readers will enjoy reading it, and you will pass on some valuable tips and ideas, as well as having pride in seeing your name in print!
As Adam Mogg wrote in his article about the Rare & Normal Parakeet Special Interest Group, the breeding of these birds is very much subject to the vagaries of British weather. 2020 had a hot, dry spring, while this year saw a very dry March and April, followed now by a very wet, cold May. This affects not only the breeding or otherwise of our birds, but also the native birds and plants. Tree peonies in our garden are flowering a full month later than they did last year. On my morning woodland dog walk, the delicate perfume of bluebells has now been overwhelmed by the brash, poundland scent of cow parsley. Similarly, the native bird song is drowned out by the raucous cacophony of the dozens of feral ring-necked parakeets that nest in these trees. It is still a wonderful experience to see parrots flying free in England, though.
There are two questions uppermost in members’ minds when they approach our office or individual trustees for answers. The first is – will we be holding a show at Stafford County Showground in July or October? Regrettably, we have agreed that staging an event in July is too soon to be wise, with restrictions likely still to be in place, and logistics too complex. However, we are still hopeful that both the National Exhibition in October and The December ‘Help the Birdkeepers’ show will go ahead. Trial events are taking place at Stafford this month, as well as several national gatherings. Feedback from these will allow us to confirm the next step. This is all, of course, subject to what happens with the current concern over the highly contagious Indian variant of the Covid virus. It is undoubtedly a dynamic, fluid situation.
The second big issue is the difficulty of importing or exporting birds between the United Kingdom and the European Union since Brexit. Just like the fishing fraternity on both sides of the English Channel have found, the procedure is now much more complex, with more paperwork, certification, licensed premises, and probable quarantine all involved. Even the movement of a handful of pet birds is affected. This undoubtedly means buying, selling or exchanging birds with fellow breeders on the continent will be far more difficult than it has been in the past. Organisations like the PSUK, CASC, SUN are all involved in lobbying Defra in an attempt to facilitate improvements for hobbyist keepers of not only birds, but reptiles, amphibians and fish. It is an uphill battle, since there is a strongly-voiced lobby against the keeping of ‘exotic’ species in general, which has also affected major zoological collections.
Meanwhile, the effect will be to increase the value of UK-bred birds, and hopefully raise the quality of their care: people will always make more effort over something that hits their wallet!
Alan K Jones May 15, 2021
Chairman’s Page May 2021
As always, I look back at what I wrote this time last year, and, indeed, the year before that. In 2019 I had just come back from puffin-watching on Skomer Island; there was a veterinary conference to attend imminently as well as a Council meeting; and then two spring Members’ Days Out events to look forward to. None of those are yet possible still, except that we have a Council meeting scheduled. At the time of writing, we are not sure whether or not we will be able to get back to a live face-to-face gathering for the first time in a year, or whether we will need to stay with the virtual format for one more time.
In 2020, I was writing about an anticipated ‘quiet Easter’, but of course this year that weekend has already gone. We have watched the funeral of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, with that event influenced as much as anybody’s life has been by the coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that life as we once knew it will not be the same again for a very long time yet. However, on the plus side, by the time you read this magazine, I shall have had my second Covid vaccination, and renovations to the garden in our new home are taking place successfully!
So, what of the future? We are in ongoing discussions with Stafford County Showground about the possibility of re-instating our shows. Some trial events are taking place there just now, with recommendations and results expected imminently. It is likely that social distancing and mask-wearing will still be requirements at such gatherings, but we are hopeful that we will be able to stage some sort of event for October. The December ‘Help the Birdkeepers’ show should equally be a strong possibility. However, these comments are not gospel – a lot will depend still on our discussions at the next Council meeting, the outcome from SCSG, and the national situation with regard to coronavirus restrictions.
We are still involved in various discussion groups with Defra, SUN, CASC, etc., over longer-term animal welfare and husbandry issues (with particular reference to parrots), as well as the added complications over bird-movements brought about by our departure from the European Union.
Then there are discussions to be had about a couple of UK-based parrot conservation projects that have requested funding, as well the routine search for articles for the monthly magazine, in addition to the on-line Bird-scene. Rest assured that, even though you may not be seeing us in person (some may consider that an advantage!), your trustees and officers are still working hard to keep the Parrot Society going, and supporting parrots and their welfare wherever we can.
Stay well, and – as ever - enjoy your birds.
Alan K Jones April 18, 2021
Chairman’s Page April 2021
Well, we are still not sure what the situation is with regard to coronavirus – at the time of writing, half of the UK adult population has been vaccinated, and infection and death rates are falling fast. But now there is the worry of an interruption in the supply of vaccines, if EU threats go ahead! Nevertheless, we still have to plan ahead, in the hope that shows and events will take place later this year. Watch this space!
Our recent Council meeting proceeded successfully, once again conducted on-line via email. The format and arrangements for potential shows later in the year were discussed, as well as ideas for conservation projects in the UK. These clearly will depend again upon the Covid situation, but the situation is being monitored closely. Hopefully we will be able to carry out our next meeting in May in a live, face-to-face manner. It will be good to have those direct discussions again.
On a brighter note, spring is definitely on its way. Plants are budding and sprouting. In the local Lesnes Abbey Woods where I now live, there are carpets of wild daffodils and wood anemones to brighten the dog walk. Daffodils are undoubtedly my favourite flower. In a month or so, the yellow and white will be replaced by a mass of native bluebells. The ubiquitous feral ring-necked parakeets are loudly proclaiming their presence in the trees above, while green and great-spotted woodpeckers may be heard – the distinctive laughing call of the former, and the staccato drumming of the latter. We have warm spring sunshine today, and in the garden as I write, a robin is singing loudly, and a pair of blue tits is inspecting the nest box on the summer house. Favourite plants transported from the old home seem to be settling in comfortably, and enjoying the south-facing garden - as am I and the dogs!
I hope that all your birds are doing just as well in these difficult times – whether they are pet indoor parrots or breeding aviary birds, they should now all be in peak condition at this time of year. Don’t forget to tell us about your experiences with your birds – even if you are not the world’s best writer, we are happy to edit your thoughts so that they can be shared with others, in our magazine or on the website. Hopefully I shall soon be able to get back to reviewing the site and adding some fresh articles to it, or revamping some good oldies from our archives. With clocks going forward this weekend, we have lighter evenings to look forward to - spring and summer are coming!
Stay well, and enjoy your parrots.
Alan K Jones March 23, 2021
Chairman’s Page March 2021
What a difference a year makes – this time in 2020 we were worried about coronavirus, but still looking forward to shows and events later in the year - then look what happened! But maybe there is not so much difference after all, in that – with my usual optimism – we can begin to look forward to shows and events taking place again later this year. Over 15 million Covid vaccinations have now been administered, so that case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths are all reducing to the point where lockdown restrictions may soon be eased. I imagine that a large proportion of our members (including me!) are amongst those who how now received at least their first dose of vaccine. Therefore, it should be possible to get back to some form of normality as far as our parrot-keeping social calendar is concerned. Many of the public collections of birds that we enjoy visiting so much have suffered severely with such prolonged closures. Let us hope that they can re-open and start attracting visitors again soon, before it is too late.
Instead of the storms of this time last year, we have had extreme cold and snow, but now a milder spell, with both wild birds and aviary parakeets nesting already. Snowdrops and crocuses have bloomed, and daffodils are well on their way, so let’s hope that winter doesn’t return with a vengeance!
On a personal note, we have spent the last several months dealing with the terminal illness and eventual death of an elderly relative, and now probate and estate winding-up and property clearance. On top of that is an ongoing home move, including four dogs and two parrots, and anyone who has been through such upheavals will know how time-consuming and exhausting it all is! Add to that the frustrating struggle to get decent broadband into the new property means that I have not been able to spend anything like the usual time on progressing the Parrot Wiki in the Members Only section of the website, but hopefully I can get back to it by the end of this month. It is amazing how dependent we have become on good access to the internet.
All-in-all, an eventful twelve months have passed, with much stress, frustration, worry, emotional upset and financial concerns for everyone, but hopefully there is now light at the end of what is a very long tunnel, and we can begin to rebuild our shattered lives. It will take a very long time for many things to settle down, and much of our old lifestyle will never return, but we know that it can be done, and we look forward once again to personal, face-to-face relationships with our friends and colleagues!
Alan K Jones February 15, 2021
Chairman’s Page February 2021
We have a New Year stretching out before us, and I think everyone will agree and hope that it has to be better than 2020. But – to quote the first few lines of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of two Cities’ – and with acknowledgments to The Mail on Sunday - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” 2020 was the year of Coronavirus and Covid 19, of lockdowns and social distancing, of vacillating political decisions, of disrupted schooling and family life, and – closer to home – the cancellation of most of the year’s avian events and the return of Avian ‘Flu. But through all the doom and gloom, there were positives: we applauded the tireless efforts of our amazing NHS and other key workers; an effective vaccine was produced in record time; many people had more time to enjoy hobbies and families; a Brexit deal was finally achieved at the 59th minute of the 23rd hour; and nature and our atmosphere had a brief recovery from human onslaught.
One of the most interesting Christmas presents I received last year was Sir David Attenborough’s latest book ‘A Life on Our Planet’. It makes a very interesting and thought-provoking read, and his current TV series ‘A Perfect Planet’ equally makes one think. Unfortunately, neither the book nor the TV series will be seen by those who need to take notice of their contents. They should be essential reading and watching for everyone on this planet. This is no David Icke rambling, but a cogently presented story by a well-respected naturalist, who has seen major changes in our world in his own lifetime, and his conclusions are well supported by scores of quoted scientific research. He puts forward some very strong and useful ideas for preventing the eventual destruction of Earth and its inhabitants by changing our behaviour and outlook, as well as providing examples of the worst that can happen if we don’t. One example of immediate relevance to parrot enthusiasts is the fact that ‘the Amazon rainforest is on course to be reduced by 75% of its original extent by the 2030s’ – if nothing is done to prevent it. This is just a decade away, and at that point, the rainforest would probably be irrecoverable. Sobering thoughts!
However, it is not in my nature to preach doom and gloom. Being a glass half full person, I feel that we can look forward now to a far better year, with a stabilising economy and international trade; the coronavirus vaccine roll-out that will enable a return to a more normal life by the end of the spring; and primarily a return of our open shows and events. Once again, we will be able to socialise and gather to view and talk about parrots! As I wrote last month, it will undoubtedly take several years to recover from both coronavirus and the impact of Brexit, and the next couple of generations will be paying heavily. But we have done it before and we can do it again – this is the beginning of a new era, as long as we learn lessons from last year, and implement the right strategies to avoid similar occurrences in future, and direct our attention to caring for others and the world we live in.
Alan K Jones January 18, 2021