Category Archives: Crowned Eagles

Rosy and Girl part 2.

Rosy and Girl part 2.

Before finishing on Rosy and Girl’s breeding attempt I am happy to see that they still have followers of the blog! I apologise to them all for failing to keep up a routine. Truth is that exciting and positive things to report have been few and mundane entries are strictly prohibited in my book. However we are recognising a need to keep with it so as to raise awareness, and at some point try to expand and get raptor rehabilitation back on its feet again. Not that it is not so today, but all would admit it is low profile and coasting along awaiting official recognition and encouragement. I could get red in the face about various aspects of animal rehabilitation that are so often ignored that ultimately proves fatal. These are practised largely to conform to the myriad restrictions placed upon us.  But today there is a perceptible change back towards accepting public involvement and it is probable that we can grow and fill a sourly needed niche. There are thousands of raptors in need of care each year, but only a handful are brought in. This was not the case 20 years ago when I and others, were inundated with crippled birds. I guess one of the first things to do is to inform, and the internet (blogs) are one way of doing so.

So here goes: Rosy and Girl on eggs.

Rosy and Girl on nest

Rosy and Girl on nest

Just before February 2011 I was busy in Athi and the Mara doing other things, thinking all the while that I was more needed at Naivasha to tend to Rosy and Girl. Hatching can go wrong, and one can assist if need be, by prying miniscule pieces of egg shell away if the chick is exhausted. Easy to say as one would be having to fend off two fierce Velocaraptors with one arm. When I returned on the 2nd Feb to look in the shed, they were still on eggs. The eggs failed to hatch. We all hung on hope for a few more days until we knew nothing would happen. A great pity, for Girl seldom incubates an infertile egg. In the past she would sit on ¾ of the term and leave it without much concern. This time both she and Rosy sat determinedly and hung on well after the end.

Sarah Higgins, Mwanzia and I all felt it possible that disturbance may have contributed. It only needs a 20 minute period of absence during intense heat or cold for the eggs to die. There are fighting hippo crashing up against their shed, wandering students (not sure which is worse), and the occasional tractor. We closed up the area and crossed fingers.

In mid June they started to rebuild, in late June they were very active, in early July they were mating, in mid July things calmed down. We are having a problem feeding them the right food. I have to admit here that we feed them rabbits too seldom (dead rabbits). It is the only food that nears their diet (of monkeys, small antelope etc). To fill in the bulk is beef, and turkey heads. Neither have the nutritional value to keep them in prime health or get them breeding. Rabbits now cost as much as a goat did and contrary to popular belief they do not breed anywhere near fast enough to feed one pair of eagles. However we found some good food in mid June and hey presto, they were mating again. On 21 of July I came back from fixing my car to find them incubating! I think it is one egg, but will leave them a few days before I check.

Boo Boo the Tawny Eagle

Boo Boo the Tawny Eagle

In the next few days I will be releasing a Tawny Eagle called BooBoo. This is a bird that was found being sold on the side of the street, rescued by a pilot, part trained, rescued by another pilot and given to Sarah Higgins. I would pass by and fly it down below the house near the lake shore. Now BooBoo is ready to go. I’ll put a radio on her and have a team of volunteers at Soy Sambu Conservancy all fired up to keep a daily eye on her.

Rosy and Girl, back together.

News on Rosy and Girl:

Those of you who remember Rosy and his cataract eye operations may be curious to know how he is getting on. The truth was that for months after his operations and prolonged treatment he was a shadow of his former self, usually sitting idle in his corner half blind and unable to interact with Girl, his mate of some 25 years. He could not easily find his food or build a nest and he just spent his day loafing with glazed eyes. Every now and then he’d crash into the shed wall and our hearts would sink. I had little hope and therefore no reason to write about him when in so pathetic a state. While it has been incredible that he could see a bit and look after himself we’ve all been disappointed that it was not a miraculous total recovery. But sometimes he’d surprise us all by being seen high up on a perch looking cocky. How did he get there?

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Girl inspects Rosy's DIY skills.

 For the last year and more I usually spend 2 to 3 days in one place before heading off to another destination in my camper car. It (then) hadn’t resulted, as I had hoped, in employment or a place to live. But I think I am doing a number of worthy things and being productive nevertheless. But when I am utterly fed up with everything and in despair, I end up going to see Rosy and Girl now happily housed at Sarah Higgins’s sanctuary at Naivasha. I feel good and among family when I see them. When I visited in October 2010 Rosy and Girl, were showing distinct signs of breeding.  They would sometimes sit side by side. Rosy would try to get the food to the nest, or Girl would take a sprig of green leaves in her bill and look confused. In mid December, while asleep in my car roof top tent behind their shed I was awoken by Girl calling at night. That was always a sure sign when we were all together in Athi that she was thinking of breeding. It was a low monotone call, somewhat sad and foreboding. I went down to see them in their pen in the morning and saw Rosy at one end low down on his usual perch and Girl up in the old nest. Nothing had changed.

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Rosy and Girl on nest

By mid October 2010 I was helping Masumi Gudka to do a Fish Eagle/pesticide project. We were all staying at Sarah Higgin’s place where she also has a research facility. I heard Rosy and Girl make a “mating” call! By the time I rushed down to their shed I saw nothing other than Rosy and Girl on the nest looking innocent. But Rosy was on the nest….a rare feat for him. Over the next few weeks Mwanzia and I with the help of Sarah’s workshop fundis put together a King Sized eagle bed, built for having large and strapping eaglets. A massive iron structure some 2.2m across was set, with some danger to life and limb, on top of their old nest. Not only is the centre nest tree flimsy, but Rosy and Girl could of course drop you with one single blow. We then added a few extra poles to assist Rosy in getting to the nest. Within minutes after we departed Rosy was in there busying himself with nest renovations. By late November he was totally at home nest building and rearranging. I suspected that they had mated, but I was not sure. Still almost blind, his determination is so admirable that it just makes all of us stand back and shake our heads with wonder. He is incredibly clever at using what senses he has at doing what he was always good at. He used to be an exceptional nest builder and father who used to take on incubation, brooding and feeding chores with rare dedication. During the beginning of his current nest duty he would charge threateningly down the perch to collect fresh green branches we placed for him. He would return to the nest to place it with artistic flourish in the bowl, and I smiled a lot for no very good reason. I haven’t smiled in this paternal stupid way since they last had a chick in late 2005. Rosy and Girl look to be back in business, and with them I feel as though things never changed. It would be better than just “good” if they did breed. It would defy all that stood in the way. Much did, and I still harbour simmering anger at those that did harm and ruin so good a thing. But this great news would surely delight all those that helped by gave funds when Rosy needed two cataract operations. Those that contributed and those that did the surgery and cared for him would all finally feel it worth their while. Rosy and I owe so many people, especially Sarah Higgin’s. Above all, everyone can rest assured that the operation was no failure and Rosy and Girl are back together.

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Eagle foreplay. NB: Closed 3rd eyelid.

(At this point I had hoped to close one blog entry so as to build suspense for the next. But caution ruled and I did not post it. Part 2 of the story follows)

In January 2011 they were both busy making the nest. It was impossible now to enter without Rosy or Girl attacking. When the mating call was being made I would rush down and just miss it. Sarah too would dash to see what was happening. Only Mwanzia witnessed them mating, but something was not exactly right. When I finally did see them mate I was confused to see Girl on top of Rosy! It is a very rare thing for eagles to do. Physiologically the mechanics of the whole process just don’t work in this position.  I assumed Girl was frustrated with Rosy’s ineptitude at this tricky task. It takes a lot of caution (those feet could kill the female), and balance to mate. But every time Rosy looked near to mating (lots of nibbling and foreplay etc), Girl would back off. Rosy is smaller than Girl and I worried that this odd mating position could end in serious injury. Girl’s feet are massive. However on one occasion in late January I rushed to the peep hole to see Rosy dismounting. What happened I was unable to tell.

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The nest and eggs. The metal nest rim can just be seen.

On the 2nd Feb 2011 I came in exhausted from a long drive to look into their shed and see only Rosy. Alarmed I swung open the door and entered, only to have Girl rise like a massive demon from the nest and glower with gaping mouth and open wings. She was on an egg! Rosy stood statuesque and in solemn pose a few feet away. His demeanour may look calm and composed, but he was anything but. Had I stepped one more foot into the shed he would have flung himself at me and Girl would have certainly followed. I raced off to tell Sarah. When I returned to Naivasha a week later Girl was on two eggs!

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An egg! Girl attacked so photo poor!

Eagles, unlike people have two birthdays. There is cause for celebration when the egg is laid, and there is yet another celebration when it hatches. In a way, the nail chewing period stretches the entire incubation period for nearly two months. If one or more eggs hatch, Sarah, Mwanzia and I would be thrown into disarray. Good food will be the top priority, and not easy to find.

Of course this is something of a record. Rosy is the only eagle in the world with 2 artificial lenses. He is the only one with such a disability to breed. That both are in the mid thirties is also a feat of sorts. And in Africa captive breeding eagles of any sort is extremely rare. On top of all that, not much was going for them when Sarah stepped in and helped us all out when we had to separate and go our different ways. One thing is for sure, I have felt an inexorable pull towards them and failed hopelessly in the attempt to rid myself of the birds and get a “real job”. I can’t, and should they have a chick I see it as inevitable that I slide back into doing what I always enjoyed. Breeding eagles and releasing their young is about the only thing that has made sense to me in a conservation world utterly bogged down in semantics, strategic plans, funding proposals, jargon and futile inaction. Rare is it to break through and actually work with wildlife make it grow, nurture it and set it free.

(Here I end the second blog entry……read on if you wish to know what happened!)

Rosy’s eye check up

Rosy the Crowned Eagle has not been improving as well as we hoped after two cataract operations. Dr. Dan Gradin, the ophthalmologist who did the operations, was going to be in Naivasha and he and Sarah Higgins had arranged a meeting on Saturday, January 24. Laila and I were able to meet them.

The last time I met Dan he was first in a floppy surgeon’s overalls, with mask and surgeon’s cap. After the surgery he morphed into a regular sort and took off on his heavy motorbike. On this occasion he was wearing a Scout Master’s uniform as he was in the middle of taking a number of children out camping.

We gathered up Rosy from his shed. Girl, his wife, was very distraught and hung from the roof. They both hate these examinations but it must be done.

The right eye, which looks the worst because of its torn pupil does see something. But it does not allow Rosy to see his perch properly or to fly up and sit with Girl. Last week we saw him take off from his perch and fly straight into a solid wall! The wall was fully lit, and surrounding it were deep shadows. If you squinted and pretended you were near blind you could understand that to him it might seem like open sky.

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Rosy’s right eye

Dan had a look at this eye and tested its refraction by bouncing light from a special gadget off the back of the retina. He was able to measure the eye’s focus, and although he said it was slightly too long-sighted he was pleased with the result. The smoky fibrin goo that had obscured the lens had receded allowing a completely clear path. But it does seem that although the lens is clear the inability of the eye to see clearly stems from a damaged retina. This eye on two occasions had suffered from glaucoma, and on the first occasion it was very severe and we wondered at the time if the retina would be permanently damaged.

The left eye, with its neat round pupil was obscured by a fibrin coat. The pupil itself acts as a matrix close enough to allow the fibrin to cling to it and bridge the gap.

Dan had the tough job of telling us that he felt the chances of improving Rosy’s sight was very slim. About as much chance as finding oil off the Kenya coast.

dan and simon examining rosy
Dan examining Rosy’s eyes

We released Rosy and he turned on us threateningly. He has guts!

Rosy may or may not undergo another operation. Dan first needs to communicate with some of his colleagues. What we do not want is to stress Rosy unnecessarily. If another operation will not improve his eyes then it makes no sense to try. The left eye might have a good retina. There are tests that can be done using a machine that measures retina function, but such a thing is not available in Kenya. If we knew the retina was OK then surgery to clear the lens would be advisable. It may be necessary to take Rosy to South Africa, or bring the necessary machines and technicians to Kenya.

Rosy remains enormously strong. He functions semi-normally in his huge shed. Girl is capable of breeding or even being released. Rosy cannot breed in this condition. We have discussed the idea of giving Girl her chance at a better life. But I am certain that if Girl goes out of Rosy’s life, he’ll have nothing to live for. Eagles mate for life, and although they will find a new partner if one dies, Rosy is likely to be confused and without much to do. We still have not given up hope.

If you love Rosy and Girl, Digg this story!

Boredom In the Hospital But Freedom At Last!

Few things can be as boring as lying in hospital. Laila stayed with Munir Virani a fellow raptor fanatic, and with Sandy and Sandy, friends of ours at Athi. She managed to get in well before visiting hours. I was lucky. Lucky to not have the water tank fall a few inches closer and lucky that Laila coordinated such a cool-headed rescue and stayed and helped me through the following days. We had only just begun a few tentative excursions to the Aberdares, and were trying to be as productive as we could given that we still cannot leave Kenya because there is still the Lammergeyer (the most valuable of all the birds) left for release. We were testing out the vehicle and getting the hang of the cameras and procedure. We were doing quite well under these circumstances and had already got the best photograph I have seen of a Mountain Buzzard. It wasn’t great, but if we dally weeks to get the perfect shot of each of more than 100 species, we will be on the road for years. We cannot afford this. Laila has to get back and continue her life at the end of the year and time can run out quickly. We cannot let this accident slow us down.

I am known among friends and family as being able to bounce back very quickly after an accident. I have had quite a few. But I am older now, and the body just doesn’t do what it used to, nor recover as fast. But the head is the same and I have no intention of drawing this injury out any longer than it should. Laila is very strict that I should do as the doctor orders. I must now behave and listen because this trip is a joint effort. Laila is as much a part of the expedition as I and has as much to lose. We are partners in this work and I cannot let her and the many others down who have an interest in this expedition.

We went by taxi to the outskirts of Nairobi to stay four nights with David Gulden at Hog Ranch. This small sanctuary of indigenous forest and bush is the home of Peter Beard and shares it border with African Fund for Endangered Wildlife giraffe centre. It is a remnant of Karen Blixen’s old farm, unchanged from the original bush she first found there “under the foot of the Ngong Hills.” We stayed in spacious tents, surrounded by a busy family of Warthogs and a herd of Rothschild’s Giraffe. It looked and felt as though you were in the bush, but for the hum of humanity near its borders.

The days passed slowly with little to do but paint. Laila befriended “Becket” a black Lab, and videoed enough Warthog footage to make a documentary. When we arrived there were six babies, one dragging a back leg but in good spirits. Later that day, there were five. Laila thought to go find it to feed it up and make it strong. We went to go look for it, I on crutches. We found he had died in peace under a bush. His siblings thrived and continued to entertain us by pirouetting around in tight circles and having mock fights. Laila got to scratch a huge fat female warthog, while I filmed.

We saw a mewing Steppe Buzzard. It cries like a thin cat mew, high overhead. Odd that it should do so in its wintering grounds. There were distant vultures framed by the impressive Ngong Hills. We saw and filmed the Little Sparrowhawk, who sat bold and perky in a tree. We were desperate to photograph but the cameras were at home in Athi. A video camera was all we had. High overhead one morning, we heard the Crowned Eagle. Beneath in the thick foliage its cry was taken up by Robin Chats that mimic the call of many birds.

We were sorry to leave when Sandy and Sandy picked us up and took us to their home at Athi but it’s good to be back and we now have the cameras again.

Up and Down Week for Rosy and His Team

From Sarah Higgins

This has been a week of ups and downs. Rosy had an operation on both of his eyes on Saturday the 11th and now we are back to putting drops in his eyes four times a day. He was a very much quieter bird for the first few days after the operation, which was hardly surprising, but there were definite signs that now he really can see something. Prior to the operation he was always ‘scanning’ or ‘reading’ (as I am told it is called) which indicated that he could see nothing, but that has stopped altogether since this latest op. Now he points his beak or left eye right at you when you talk to him. I don’t think that he can see too much yet, but part of that is because of the milky steroids that were injected into his eye.

On the 15th he started calling again and called four times that day and was answered twice by Girl who was perched on the branch within her ‘palace’ that overlooks where Rosy spends his days. BUT the same day that Rosy started calling I could see the dreaded fibrin again, poking its way through Rosy’s newly opened right pupil. My heart dropped down to my boots and I sent of a picture of the eye to Doctor Dan. He too was disappointed but not despondent.

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Rosy on October 15

The next day when I went to see Rosy I had my camera slung round my neck. I approached him from the left and as I bent forward to greet him the camera swung forward towards him and he nearly jumped out of his feathers. There is absolutely no doubt that he saw something coming at him although he probably couldn’t make out what it was. Despite this, when I looked into his left eye this too was showing signs of the fibrin beginning to fill up behind the pupil, although not nearly as severely as was happening in the right eye. Yet another photo was sent to Doctor Dan who again was not despondent and assured me that the steroids that he injected into the eye should eventually clear everything up. He said that Rosy’s eyes were reacting exactly like a human baby’s eyes do and that things really should start to look better soon.

Because the news was basically depressing I was reluctant to write up my Rosy Report. But today it looks as if the fibrin is beginning to retreat from his right eye and so things are definitely looking rosier. The big boy still chats to me in his silly little un-eagle-like voice when I spend time with him but that same voice is also regularly raised to its full volume as he claims his territory and makes absolutely sure that no one is going to trespass on HIS patch or try to steal his Girl.

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Rosy on October 18

Please keep sending your good thoughts to Rosy as I am sure that it all helps in the healing process and we do so want him to be able to see again and be able to go back to his lonely Girl.

Return from Naivasha: Rosy, Eagle Sightings

Rosy stepped out of the kennel and onto the glove with a vigour he has not shown for months. I walked him about and reassured him in soft tones that all was well. For the last few months during his complete blindness, he had been mellow and calm. He also “read” – a term used when a hooded (blindfolded) raptor scans his head back and forth as if reading a book. This habit is a sure sign that he was blind. Now he stood with his head still and looking hard. Today he was nervous. This is great news, and I was hopelessly emotional for only a short while till Mwanzia came walking down the path.

Rosy two days post-op
Picture of Rosy this morning

After breakfast, we thanked Sarah and Mike for being such great hosts, for us and the eagles. We got to Nairobi and dropped in to see Dr. Munir Virani, a colleague now heading the African programme for the Peregrine Fund. We then went together to Ngong Forest to view the Crowned Eagle nest where Virani and a photographer friend hope to build a hide. The nest is remarkably exposed, easy to access, and very close to high human density. We discussed various options to minimise the level of disturbance on this apparently tolerant pair. We also talked of the enormous development projects regarding the rural electrification of Africa and the apparent loss of environmental issues in the haste to get this mandate completed. Just what can be done to insure human development and not compromise wildlife and raptors in particular is an enormous challenge.

Approaching home from Nairobi, we turned off into Portland cement ranch. Immediately there were the large herds of wildlife and we aimed for the Martial Eagle nest. This is an odd site as we saw the adult male and female, large chick on nest as well as a 3-year-old sub-adult that was completely tolerated at the nest.

Driving on, we encountered an over-wintering near-adult Steppe Eagle, and three Tawny Eagles as well as a half dozen White backed Vultures roosting in a few yellow fever trees. It was an opportunity to compare these two similar eagles.

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Tawny Eagle

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Steppe Eagle

Finally arriving home near sunset, Tim flew in and landed on my back as I ducked down to avoid him. Laila then fed him in the evening light. Poor Tim, he still thinks we are family. Thankfully, he is not stupid and I am sure he would not do this with strangers. I hoped he would leave of his own accord, but as he persists in coming home, another solution may need to be found. We could, for example, release him along with the Bearded Vulture near the Tanzanian border in a beautiful mountainous location.

Rosy Recovers After His Operation

Rosy stepped out of his dog kennel and onto the glove this morning still groggy from yesterday’s operation. He was a little different from usual in that he was more active in moving his head and scanning the world through open, if bleary, eyes. The eyes themselves were opaque, but that was to be expected given the recent operation and the injections of milky white anti-inflammatory drugs.

Rosy getting his eye drops
Rosy getting his eye drops

He sat on his perch in the early morning sunlight, while I put various eye-drops into each eye. It seemed as though he flickered an eyelid before I touched him. I asked Mwanzia if he could look after him while Laila and I walked to view the lake shore and the incredibly tame herds of zebra and waterbuck. Pied Kingfishers and Great Cormorants offered superb photographic opportunities. The pair of resident Fish Eagles often sit on a flimsy dead tobacco plant overlooking the water and this morning, the male was there allowing us to approach within 50 meters.

We returned for a late breakfast with Sarah and Mike on their verandah accompanied by a menagerie of wild weavers, doves, babblers and finches that busied themselves establishing the pecking order of the day. The ancient pet African Grey Parrot added some pertinent comments to the conversation that could have only meant it understood the gist of what we were saying. I felt a disturbing awareness that I might have been more careful in what I said, lest I offend the bird! I am not a great parrot fan, maybe because I have an uneasy feeling that they know very much more that what you think. Besides, the worst bite I ever had was from a parrot.

After breakfast, we “coped” one of Sarah’s Marsh Owls, who had a slightly overgrown bill. “Coping” simply means trimming the bill or talons of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. It entails the use of a sharp knife and a file. The idea is to remove the overgrown part and return it to normal shape. The Keratin part of the bill and talons has no nerves or blood supply so it is a painless task. But the owl was very indignant.

Sarah and marsh owl
Sarah and one of her Marsh Owls

We planned to visit friends Tommie and Annie at Carnelley’s Camp for lunch and then go to Hell’s Gate National Park. But the meal there was so good that we overstayed. Annie took showed us the newly fledged chick of a Fish Eagle, born in a massive tree in their garden. She is looking after one of the ugliest of all things, a baby Hadada Ibis, knocked from its nest at night. Despite its grotesque gargoyle shapelessness it was, of course, adorable.

At Hell’s Gate, we were unable to meet the Warden and the acting deputy. I had worked for some years in Hell’s Gate with students studying Augur Buzzards and Egyptian Vultures, and latterly releasing Bearded Vultures (Lammergeyers). I always had a great affection for Hell’s Gate and its towering cliffs. It is our hope that we can also do a census in the park and its nearby environs in order to continue to promote raptor conservation and awareness.

We returned to check on Rosy. He had not eaten much during the day, but this was not unexpected. He was much more jumpy than he had been since May 2008. As my hand approached his face to put the eye-drops in, he threatened it! I turned my head upside-down and he threatened that, too! Laila stood up and he followed her with his head. He definitely has more vision than at any period in the last five months. We can only pray that this improvement continues, especially as Girl sits confused and lonely in her grand breeding pen. I retired Rosy early to bed where he bounced about with something of his old belligerent manner.

Rosy’s Second Eye Operation

Laila and I drove to Naivasha to stay with Sarah and Mike Higgins on Friday night where I was able to reunite with Rosy and Girl for the first time in weeks. I was shocked at the condition of his eye, but Rosy was in good spirits and was particularly talkative. The iris of the right eye had, within the last few days, burst forward to coat the inner side of the cornea. Sarah had earlier sent Dr. Dan Gradin a photo of this eye by e-mail. Dan viewed this as an emergency requiring immediate surgery. I went to the shed to see Girl, and half hoped that she would be pleased to see me. But she was not and made it clear by launching herself around the shed in mad abandon. We did manage to exchange a few words after she recognized me.

Early next morning, after taking pictures of wildebeest, zebra and waterbuck at the lake shore, I took Rosy out for a short walk to enjoy the warmth of the sun. He leaned his body against me as we had done for so many years and seemed happy. But he was totally blind.

view of animals from Girl’s shed
View of animals from Girl’s shed

We were able to convene at Dr. Barry Cockar’s clinic on Saturday at 10 a.m. After taking pictures in the morning light by the lake shore, we all had breakfast and then drove to Dr. Cockar’s, with Sarah following close behind. We arrived late but safe.

We met Dr. Barry Cockar, Dr. Nonee Magre and Dr. Dan Gradin and soon anaesthetized Rosy and proceeded with the operation to relieve the glaucoma. Pressure was immediately reduced by puncturing the iris. Within a minute, the iris collapsed and returned to near normal shape. Dan removed a coat of fibrin from the acrylic lens but in the process he had to remove some of the iris. He joked that should he be photographed, we would have to use his “good side.” The iris shape may look odd but it is of little consequence to good vision.

Dr. Gradin looking down the scope
Dr. Dan Gradin looking down the scope

Rosy’s support group
Rosy’s support group

The other eye needed similar treatment. The lens was coated with an amazingly tough layer but the process was very much shorter than the previous operation. Both eyes were injected with steroids and anti-inflammatory agents that are slow release and would inhibit the fibrin growth.

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Drs. Nonee Magre and Barry Cockar preparing injections

During the operation, Rosy awoke and leapt about scattering people and equipment. This relieved the tension as there were times when it was difficult to hear his heart beat or breathing.

Like last time, we retired for a great lunch at the Cockar’s house. It was great to stand back and watch Rosy’s support team gather together on a veranda. We all had his interest at heart. Rosy was handed around and held like a baby as he recovered from the anaesthesia.

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Rosy and Barry

We drove back with Rosy recovering on Laila’s lap. That night he spent standing up in his dog kennel. He did react to light, and the prognosis is good that he will see again. How well is not known.

Rosy and Laila on way home
Rosy recovering on journey back

Crowned Eagle Faces Another Eye Operation

We are in Naivasha as Rosy the Crowned Eagle is set to undergo emergency surgery on his eyes tomorrow. We get online as often as we can and when Simon checked his inbox yesterday, e-mails were flying around between all concerned parties about a sudden change in Rosy’s right eye. It seems he has glaucoma which, if left, could be disastrous.

Rosy’s eye pre-op

We were up before the sun this morning to drive Jim, a friend and fellow wildlife enthusiast who teaches baseball here in Kenya every year, to the airport. We took advantage while we were in Nairobi to pick up the Range Rover, our expedition vehicle. It has been kitted out with a huge water tank and a tent that opens out on top of it. It was amazing to see this car that is effectively home for the coming year. It is not yet finished as it still needs to be kitted out with fuel and gas tanks but it looks and feels good already.

While we were at Bali’s garage, picking up the car, Simon was madly on the phone and it was soon established that Rosy would undergo surgery tomorrow. Sarah Higgins and her husband Mike kindly invited us to stay with them in Naivasha tonight so that we could be there first thing to bring Rosy back to the vet clinic. On arrival, Simon had a nice reunion with Rosy who seems to be in good spirits despite what must be a very painful condition. Girl is living in a large, well-designed shed that she seems pleased with.

A special treat for the evening was being able to photograph a pair of resident wild African Fish Eagles. Sarah has not only taken on Rosy and Girl but is also caring for an unreleasable Fish Eagle and a pair of Augur Buzzards. The good news is that the Augur Buzzards are on eggs which, if successful, should hatch within the coming days. We are keeping our fingers crossed. They have not yet bred successfully and if this is to be the year, Simon and I will return to release the young back to the wild.

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Rosy Getting More Comfortable In New Home

From Sarah Higgins:

Unfortunately I didn’t know Rosy before his operation so can’t be sure that what I am saying is fact, but I am getting the impression that Rosy is feeling perkier. In my discussions with him (he is a great talker) he is getting louder in his responses and appears to be feeling happier particularly since, on doctor’s orders, we reduced the amount of drops being put in his eyes. Certainly he is calling more often. Yesterday he called at 10 a.m. and again at lunch time and today he has called four times already and it is not yet midday! It is an intriguing call, rather like a giant hacksaw through metal (you can tell I live on a farm!). This may also be because the short rains seem to be upon us at last and this morning has been overcast with that ‘it’s gonna really rain today’ feel to it. Everyone and everything in Africa always feels happier in the wet weather. There is a general feeling of optimism and recharge as the grass grows, the flowers bloom, crops are sown and nests are built.

mwanzia_and_rosy
Mwanzia and Rosy

Rosy’s eyes are clearing although his pupils are still ‘stuck’ and he is still totally blind. Nobody has given up hope though. There was always the possibility that the retina could have been damaged with the pressure build up after the operation or even that there was an underlying condition that was hidden by the cataracts. Those that know all say don’t worry, give it time. So time and lots of prayers from a lot of caring people are what we are giving.

rosy’s eyes on september 4 2008
Rosy

I ‘parrot-sit’ when my neighbours are away. Jo (an African Grey Parrot) was rescued as a little wild defeathered baby from an illegal bird exporter. She was lucky as very few of that consignment survived and luckier still in finding Peter, my neighbour, to take her on, as he and his wife Jane adore her and give her an interesting and varied life. She is now 40 years old and one of the happiest birds I know (also one of the bossiest!) and I love being allowed to look after her when her ‘folks’ are away. Having said that – I was a little concerned that she might have been worried by Rosy’s call (they are both birds of the forest), but not a bit of it, she continued cracking sunflower seeds and paid not the least bit of attention!