I first met Tessa Kum last summer through the Glasgow Science Fiction Writing Group. Originally from Australia, she was living in Glasgow with her partner for a while. I went back to Canada about a month after meeting her; she went back to Australia maybe two weeks after I came back to Glasgow. We’ve functionally spent maybe a week in each other’s physical company, but she is absolutely one of those people who makes you feel like you’ve always been friends within an hour’s amazing conversation.
To my delight she’s back in Scotland at the moment, and blew through Glasgow on her way up to the Highlands. While so doing, she invited me to accompany her and our friends Chris & Alex on a mighty excursion to Polkemmet Country Park and the Scottish Owl Centre.
There is only one sensible answer to make when someone invites you to spend a day hanging out with owls.
This is Sarabi, a gorgeously sassy Milky Eagle Owl. She weighs about 2 kg and is eighteen years old. We also met Broo, the Eurasian Eagle Owl; Hosking, the Tawny Owl; Rocky, the Indian Eagle Owl; and Spock, the (of course) Long-Eared Owl. We also wandered a fair bit and saw just about every owl from Ferruginous Pygmy Owls (SO TINY and they flit about like FINCHES it’s incredible!) to Siberian Eagle Owls, which I thought to be the absolute prettiest, while Tessa favoured the Ural Owls. The centre’s owner, Rod, and senior owl keeper, Trystan, were very kind and incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. I think Tessa and I must have stood listening to Trystan talk about owl-rearing and Sarabi’s blushing eyelids for over an hour, completely enchanted.
I can’t wait to go again. I love knowing this place is only a 40-minute bus ride away. It was always a source of some sorrow to me that I’d never made the effort to visit the Screech Owl Sanctuary in Cornwall while there (which I will forever remember as sharing a big brown road sign with GNOME WORLD — another, alas, missed opportunity), so to be introduced to this place and enjoy it so much is a gift. I’m hoping that my Glaswegian and I can wrangle his whole family into visiting it this weekend.