shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Dedication // Raining curses on Katie at Falaj Dam // Riam in cage at Jabri

Dedication // Raining curses on Katie at Al Felaij Dam // Riam in cage at Jabri



You all know from ‘ Closing this chapter ‘
and the report just before that I had to look for alternate home for Riamfada. That was a search that started from the first day if you had read the beginning of this saga with Riamfada.
My searching for the best homes and families for them and to train them was to mitigate the pain that I know will be in me when I have to go.

I love my cats and Riamfada so much that in 2009, I turned down unsolicited job offers with much higher financial reward that will require me to leave Oman and them behind. I was happy enough with just Riamfada and my cats. I have no regrets in turning those down to be with my beasties and birdie here.

I took Riamfada as I love her when I saw her and realized she needed my help.

When I looked at the horrors in Haiti , or carnages of car bombs, my problems are so minor and mundane.

I wrote to give reader a window into my style of life with beasties and birdies that hopefully my experiences and thoughts might benefit them and their creatures. Or give them some laughter at the antics I was subjected to by my kitties and Riam.

I chronicled this hand-over of Riamfada so that if anyone should find themselves having to have to part with their creatures, that what I wrote might guide them or console them. In these days of great economic uncertainties and even peril to our world herself, no job can be expected to be permanent, or that one never will fall so sick , homes that are so permanent , that you be able to live the rest of your life with your love ones and your birdie or beastie. If that is the case for you, I am very happy for you.

I am luckier than many , in that I seemed to have the time and luck to find good families , first for Tinkerbell, then for Yingshiong and now for Riamfada. I had been able to have the time to give guidance and give them all, a chance in perhaps even happier with their next family.

And remember, when Pandora opened that box, the last to emerge was Hope. And after the darkest night, dawn of that next day will surely come again.

For those that through no fault of their own, or otherwise, and had to part painfully and unwillingly from their beastie or birdies, whether in the past, or the present, or in the future, I dedicate the saga of Riamfada that I had wrote , and continue to write to that final handover , to you all.


Raining curses on Katie at Al Felaij Dam

more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "

Friday 22 January 2010

Tinkerbell Mash Batch 7 were finally all packed into baggies and stuffed into the freezer.

Not much of the morning was left. So we could not drive too far away.
The last time we had been to Al Felaij dam was in summer when Katie either threw tantrum or had a heat stroke. While the weather was warming up, it was still very nice and cool in the morning at 18 C.

I wanted a change from Buwah. I thought Al Felaij dam was near enough to go to and IT had not the brutal heat of summer when we were last there.

Dommie was not around the house. My calls for Dommie did not make him appear. Thoughts of walking about the neighbourhood calling for Dommie crossed my mind. But I felt that to be too stressful and humiliating. Curses on Dommie did not make him appear either. Katie was around, so she joined us on this trip.

The last time we were at Al Felaij, the bottom of the reservoir looked like the desert it was created from. That made me wonder why a dam was even there in the first place.

As we drove near the dam, I was amazed to see the water overflow covered much of the area outside the dam and over the road as well. Many cars were parked there with families out on picnic. That was a big surprise as the last rains were when we went on that Umq outing a couple weeks back or more. I had not expected to see any water at all.


We drove on to our usual picnic spot under a couple of big trees. And found a different sight from what we saw in summer. There was water in the dam. The water covered a vast area, with flocks of birds wheeling about over the water and feeding at the edge. I quickly parked the SUV under the tree and walked with my wife to the water edge with Riam on my shoulder. Katie had gotten out of the car but refused to join us. Katie was meowing to us to get back to her all the time. If Dommie was there, he would have been with us at the water edge. And with Dommie there, Katie would have been likely to be with us too.


There were tadpoles and frogs and insects at the water edge. The birds were jacarana type of long stilt legged birds.


Katie was a lot happier when we all got back. She was calling and calling. I felt she was calling for her brother Dommie. This was the first time Katie came out without her brother. I then set up base camp. The car rear doors with the rear door always remained opened. The better for the car sound system to reach us. Katie was making her way jumping up and down and inside the car, above the car, underneath the car meowing and calling for the first 30 minutes. Once a while Katie was on the tree that we were under. She was not high up the tree, maybe 3 meters or so, and we thought that was cute and let it be. She came down and back into the car in a few minutes by herself anyway.

more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "


Dyneema loop with silicon cement for perch tie

cable duct stuck with silicon cement holding Dyneema loop for perch tie



I removed Riamfada’s leash. She knew she was free. But she never showed desire to fly away. She flew from perch , to my knee, or to my shoulder or back of chair. But sight of medium size raptors soaring above us made me decide against flying her yet. She was content just to remain there with us on her perch, or on my jeans, or on the back of my camp chair.





I wanted to chill out and read. My wife was doing her own thing. Since I did not care to focus on Riamfada, I clipped the leash line back on her again. She had not spooked ever before in these kind of outings. She knew clearly if leash is clipped on or not. I think the clipping of the leash was more to reassure myself.
Later on, the raptor departed. I thought of removing her leash to do free flights. Then I looked at the vast expanse of water and thought what if she did a parroty joke on me and flew over the water. In addition to Riam spook and scoot, I was also wary of Riamfada’s parroty joke.

Just a few days ago, during one of our regular neighbourhood walks, she did that to me. My wife was down the road 3 villas away from me and I gave recall. Riamfada took off and flew to me steadily. I was using my thumb on the reel spindle reeling in the line as fast as I could. But even so, I never could reel in the line as quickly as she flew. I should have guessed it from the way she flew to me in a straight line. She normally would bank and curved about in a very un-nerving way as she flew to me. She flew to me and flared her wings and tail as if to touch down and land on my shoulder as usual. She had some free line as I could not reel in fast enough. Then just as her claws landed on me, she used her legs to push off again to continue flying down the road with that free line. She did that to me at home a few times. She had no harness or line in the villa of course. She would fly to me as if to land, then ‘bounced’ off my shoulder to continue on elsewhere before turning around and landing back on me. In the home and safe closed environment, that was amusing after the first initial shock.

Out on the neighbourhood walk and even with her leash on, I had to be concerned even if I knew that was not a spook and scoot. I turned my body 180 degree to continue to watch her fly on down the road. I did not reel in the line anymore as that would literally jerked her to a halt. I kept my thumb on the reel spindle to add controlled frictional resistance as when the line came to an end and she had to draw more line, she would be slowed down. Just when she slowed almost to a halt, I released my thumb to let the reel spin freely. I called out to her to ‘come come come’. That slow down of line caught her attention, and my cues to her registered , and she turned in mid air and flew back to me. I think she was going to end her joke anyway. Still, I was glad her leash was on that time, and I used that to end her ‘parroty joke’ safely.

Free flights , or any kind of flights done outside, are not to be done if you have weak hearts.

I do have a system to contain the ‘free line’ when the reeling in of line could not be as fast as her flights to me. If you look at the perch normally used by my wife, you will see a rope loop at one end, useful to loop onto the wrist. You will see also a carabiner on that loop, useful to carabiner onto belt or backpack.


The carabiner had an even more important function. When I felt very fine control on free line was necessary to ensure no overflights passed me, or when ‘teaching’ Riamfada in understanding flights under branches and trees, I would tell my wife to carabiner the leash line. The carabiner then acted as a pulley on the leash, controlled indirectly by my wife holding the perch, and controlled directly by me via my control on the reel. In the cued flights of Riamfada to me, she had to drag out more line from my reel and which passes through that carabiner. I would use my thumb on reel spindle to control or even stop line release instead of trying to reel in line as fast as I could. I last used this function way back in April 09 when I was teaching Riamfada to fly under branches and trees in the back lane.
I should have used this at the flight at Al Awabi fort when she overflew me and went past and up to the ramparts of the fort. But hindsight is useless. With hindsight, I should have bought gold when it was 35US$ an ounce or bought some shares from Bill Gates when he was trying to flog them off in 1981/82.

I still do use that carabiner from time to time to simulate strong head winds for Riamfada during neighbourhood walks. She had to fly from my wife to me pulling the line via that carabiner and controlled by my thumb friction on reel spindle as if she had to fly in strong or very strong head winds depending on the pressure I exerted with my thumb on the reel spindle. When she got near me, she had to beat her wings and forced her way to my shoulder, inches by inches, as I controlled the line release with my thumb. I think she knew, and enjoyed those challenges I set out for her.

So at Falaj dam for her flights, I left her leash on instead. With that expanse of water, I did not wish for a parroty joke from Riam. I had waddled like a penguin after that episode at Seifa Al Sheikh. Read below if you do not know how to waddle like a penquin

Jebel Akhbar with Kat //Seifa Al Sheik - the Great Escape and recovery

Replies & thoughts of Seifa Great Escape // Cyrus Oriole // An iftar meal

I recalled the remarks of Moccasinlanding that she had to swim like a penguin to rescue her Nanday conure who did an unplanned flight despite being clipped. I hate to swim like a penquin as well if Riam decided to fly over the water.

Katie did not even joined us for those flights the way you saw her at Buwah. Katie stayed at base camp waiting for us to get back.

more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "



I went back to base camp to chill out and read my Clive Cussler. With Katie wandering among our legs, or jumping up or down the car. Her meows became less and less as she realized Dommie was just not there. Riam remained happily on the back of my chair getting a headrub or seed now and then. Time passed that afternoon in a very dreamy way with me lost in an imaginary world with imaginary heros and imaginary villains.


We planned to leave at about 4pm as we were going to see Jabri family later at 5 pm.
At 330pm, my wife got me rudely yanked back into the present world from the book I was reading saying ‘Katie is gone’.

She gave me a shock.

I thought to myself that just could not be as Katie had stayed so near us all the time we were there. We looked in the car and under the car and all around us and could not see her. Even if Katie had tried to kill me and stupid to boot, she was still my stupid Katie.

I called her and heard very faint meows in reply. I could not make out from which direction she was calling from. I rushed to the front of the car to switch off Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ and called again for Katie. My wife was already walking away to look and call for her. I rushed to join her again to sounds of very faint meows. As we got further away from base camp, Katie’s faint calls became more faint and faded away.

I was getting worried. I recalled the last time when Katie threw tantrum, she ended up 400 meters away. I had to get her back. I split with my wife to cover more areas with her going along the water edge while I went up on the dam to see if I could spot Katie on the other side.

After 15 minutes of calling, and listening, I was despondent and sick in my heart. The vast area was daunting prospect to look for a little kittie.

Not withstanding I normally cursed Katie as often as I called her, I had not the heart to curse her this time. I was feeling devastated by the loss of Katie and laying out plans in my head how to get her back.

I saw my wife walking back to base camp. I thought I better go back to get my mobile and give a call to Jabris that we would not meet later that afternoon. Then my wife was signaling to me to hurry back.

I got back to see my wife pointing up the tree. I could not see why at first. Then I saw Katie, so high up the tree I could barely see her.

She was directly above the brown camp chair back on a thin branch


more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "

That was why her meow was so faint. And why I could not make out which direction she was calling from. She was calling from way up above me and directly above me.

All of a sudden , I rediscovered my ability to curse Katie once again. My wife was an idiot in panicking and rushing off to look for Katie. I was a bigger idiot in following my wife rushing off to hunt for Katie.

Raining curses on Katie was a lot wiser, soothing and less damaging to me than scolding my wife, and less painful than kicking myself.

While packing up base camp at the same time. I then called Katie to come down. She looked down on us for a little while. And then she made her way down slowly along the branch . That branch was very thin, which was why Katie could not have rushed down to join us when we rushed away. And why her calls became more and more faint as we moved further and further away. Once she was on thicker branch, she leaped and bounded on the thicker branch and down the tree trunk. And then on the ground, she jumped immediately through the open door into the car. Katie was so sweet that my curses changed immediately to praises.

We then drove off. We stopped for a while outside the dam to admire the flowing waters and the people picnicking there and kids swimming in the stream. Did a few recalls to entertain them and then headed home.



more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "


more photos in flickr folder "Riamfada visits Jabri in her cage "

Riamfada in cage at Jabri

I was actually supposed to leave Riamfada with Harry over the weekend of 21/22 January in earlier plans to go to Dubai. My passport had a few months left and a new passport had to be gotten from my embassy in Dubai as they have no representation in Oman. I had gone to Dubai in November last year to make my application but had not collected the new passport yet.

I liked those water recreation parks such as the one in Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah. It is still kind of cold for me at 17 C morning temperature. Even if the water in those park was heated to body temperature, the air is still chilly. I thought of going to Dubai to get my passport a couple weeks later when it would be warmer too.
The mash was running out with me down to the last pack. That new batch had to be made which was another reason why we did not go to Dubai over weekend of 21/22 January.

But the embassy had not forgotten me. My wife received a call from the embassy shortly before we went to see Harry on 21 Jan. They will not hold on to the passport much longer, and if I do not get it the coming weekend, I had to reapply all over again.

So I agreed to their request that I had to present myself in Dubai on 28 January to pick up the passport. Dubai’s weekends are Friday/Saturday and Oman’s weekends are Thursday/Friday. I will have to leave Muscat on Wednesday 27 January to avoid driving at night and then pick up the passport the next day and enjoy ourselves in Dubai for a couple of days.

In the past, Riamfada would be ok in her room and kept there with more than enough food to last her until we got back. You have seen her water dispenser, good for a year.

But in the transition period, it would be best to leave her with her next likely family for them to get use to each other. If any problems cropped up, I would be able to try to resolve those issues. This was done with Tinkerbell of Taiwan too.

Mr. Mohamed Jabri (referred to as MJ) and the family were delighted with my request during the mash cookout yesterday that they keep Riamfada over that time to get better acquainted with her.

I thought before that time, I should bring Riamfada over at 5pm on that 22 January for Jabris to practice handling of her. I told MJ that it would be better if he was dressed in something casual to be able to handle Riamfada instead of his formal Omani dishdasha dress.

Then I thought I better take Riamfada over to Jabris in her cage to get them use to taking Riam in and out of the cage as well.
So after we all got back from Al Falaj dam and Katie booted out of the car, we set off to the Jabris just a couple km down the road with Riamfada in her cage at the back.

I took my folding camp table to place the cage on. I opened the cage door and got Riamfada to step up on perch and taken from the cage. This was very new to me. From day one, Riamfada’s cage door was always wedged open. I never got her to step up inside the cage as she was always outside the cage. I think I caged her deliberately only once, when she did a flying lunge at my wife long time ago.


I showed how Riam should be handled when she was on the lap. How always to treat Riam with respect and to be careful and watchful of any changes from her during head rubs. Jabris had a CAG before and they knew better.





I wanted MJ to have the experience of a parrot landing on him. I gave him almond seeds that Riamfada love. How to hold those bribes in front to show her and holding his perch about 300mm or a foot away. Too far to step up onto. I tried to coax Riam to fly over to him just a hop away. Riam refused to do so. I twisted the perch rotating it and Riam had to catch her balance by flapping over to J. He was delighted. He now knew the feeling of Riamfada flying and landing. I hope he would add on to those memories later on when with love and patience and understanding, he will persuade Riam to fly over to do that.


I did not repeat that trick again. I chose that short distance. I knew from experience if the distance be greater, Riam would have the space to fly, get over her surprise, and turned around in mid air to fly back to me. I tried so many times to get Riam to fly to my wife so I knew Riam very well. I felt Riam did not like the trick as I ‘forced’ her, something I very rarely did to her. But I will think of ways to get Riam to fly over distances to them, that they will feel the impact of her landings.

The next time the distance between perches was set even closer at about 3 inches or 75 mm apart. I hoped that if Riam did not wish to fly voluntary to MJ, that at least she would cross over to him to get almond. This was a different exercise from step up with the perch placed at breast and kind of over the toe, pushing to her breast to nudge her to step up. Cross over would be a voluntary step up from Riam to get over to MJ. Riam stood still a while as if to consider. She then leaned forward and reached with her foot. At which we all happily accepted as a cross over bringing the perches that bit closer to enable her to step up. While Riam did not willingly fly over, we all were happy Riam did cross over to MJ. And repeated a few more times. I tried that with Asia and told them to practice that while I left the house.

To remove my presence and to have my ciggie of course.

Riamfada was then placed back into the cage by MJ. To be taken out again by MJ.
Then I found out ‘step up’ which I thought I hard wired into Riam was hard wired largely for me. She not only chose not to step up when she was in the cage. She had this steely look ‘ I SHALL NOT BE MOVED’. One of her foot on the perch in the cage and the other foot firmly grasping the cage bars on the side.


I had to intervene as I had other exercises to go through with them. She still did not step up for me on the perch I presented to her. I knew she would never ever hurt me. I reached in , pull her toes from the cage perch and placed it on my perch. To my shock, I saw Asia by my side watching that. I told her she must never do that to Riamfada , please not to do what she saw me do. She smiled and told me she knew.
I told them if Riam did not want to step up to get out of the cage, they should leave the door open until she got out of the cage. And how to use bribes to persuade her to step up like what was done in the cross over.

showing how to 'beakrub' with clenched fist to minimise hurt against bite.



With one thing and another, time passed quickly by. And we had to go home.

Riamfada in her cage will be brought over to the Jabris on Wednesday afternoon before we leave for Dubai. We will get her back on Friday afternoon when we returned.

There after, Riamfada will be periodically kept by Jabris over the weekends.

By March, Riam will be left with the Jabris for longer periods such as a week.

Then for longer periods, until half the time, she will be with the Jabris. It will be shared guardianship, until the time I have to say the final goodbye.

more photos in flickr folder "Al Felaij with Kattie "



If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.

or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

hit counter code

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.