Officially I’ve been in the U.K for 6 weeks now and boy am I ready to get back, don’t get me wrong England’s great but its just not Belize.
After spending my requested 14 days in quarantine, I have been spending the last month catching up with family and friends as it’s been a long old 18 months since I’ve seen them all!
As well as the picnics and days out enjoying the British summer sun, I’ve also had my hands full visiting my old boss for a week at ‘The Grove’. A multipurpose yard run by Barrett Watson (private collector, parrot breeder and show jumping teacher) and Tim Davies (experienced show jumper) in Bury St Edmunds, Sulfolk where they teach and train professionals in horse show jumping as well as catering and competing with their own horses. And as if he doesn’t already have his hands full with horse life, a love of parrots spanning over 40 years has lead Barrett to keeping a flock of a brilliant species variety, numbering over 120 birds!
It was great being back and helping out in my old role as parrot keeper and horse groom as well as seeing all the friendly faces of the ‘extended family’ I’ve known and loved since I first started working for them 6 years ago.
While there I helped lend a hand to one of the new projects, constructing a new outdoor flight aviary to train some of the younger birds.
Still an on going project, it’s getting there slowly and will be lovely and greatly appreciated by all the birds including my favorite Yellow once it’s built.
While there I also lent a hand in my old horse grooming position (though I can’t say I’m any better with horses now as I was back then!).
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic as it was with most events, all the larger horse jumping shows for the remainder of the year have been cancelled but smaller shows are just starting to open up and needless to say ‘The Horse of the Year Show’ prodigy that is Lionel Van De Markieslanden (Yh I know it’s a mouth full so just plain old Lionel to us) was very excited to be back doing what he does best!
Can you tell how excited he is from all that bucking? click here to read the article of Tim’s 2019 win at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on Lionel.
Tim had four horses entered in the show in two separate classes and not surprising (due to his skill and that of the horses) came 1st, 2nd and 4th in the 1.10 m and 1st in the 1.30 m with the only horse ridden being Lionel – the others weren’t quite ready for the big leagues like Ly.
This year has also been very productive on the bird breeding scene with many beautiful babies born, including this little one which hatched while I was there.
Two of the amazing parrot species that Barrett cares for are actually natives to Belize and for those of you who don’t know it’s working with these species in Barrett’s collection that spurred my Belizian worldwide travelling spirit.
The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a beautiful bird, well known by people for its dramatic red coloration and a popular bird in the pet industry. Its a species that needs little explanation and probably is the exact image people conjure when presented with the word parrot.
The Scarlet macaw is one of many birds in the psittacine order suffering from decreases in population due to human activity. The illegal trade in poaching is persistent across its range in Central America and numbers have decreased rapidly in the last 50 years as the pet trade for parrots has boomed. For this reason it is import that captive breeding programs take a strong hold in an attempt to reduce wild nest poaching. Unfortunately the demand for pet parrots is stronger than ever and as we can start to convey the understanding and intelligence of these beautiful creatures to the public, as well as there self-destructive habits in captivity it stands to say that it is important to provide people with a safe, sustainable way of owning their pet without dramatically effecting there wild populations.
In Belize the Scarlet macaw is described as ‘endangered’, with fewer than 250 individuals. In 2010, Britt et al. conducted a nest survival analysis of breeding Scarlet Macaws in Belize and Guatemala. Their nest survival estimate suggested that overall reproductive success was too low to sustain a viable population in Belize. The major threat to the survival of A. macao cyanoptera (Northern scarlet macaw subspecies) was determined to be poaching by Guatemalans in the Sibun forest Reserve area of Belize.
Another incredibly popular pet parrot species is the Double Yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix) known for its talented talking abilities, it is also endangered in Belize, perhaps more so than the scarlet macaw as populations across Mexico and Guatemala are severely in decline. Poaching for the international pet trade as well as habitat destruction has driven the species to near-extinction in the wild; around half of all wild-caught birds are thought to die in the process, and recent conservation action is what has prevented there species going extinct.
There are some dedicated conservation biologists in Belize working hard to preserve this species before its too late, such as Belize Bird Conservancy who we as T.R.E.E.S work with and support.
It’s truly the spread of knowledge and education that is the step forward to bringing these species back from the brink in Belize.
I hope I have provided some powerful parrot talk as food for thought, keep reading to see what we get up to next!