My better half bought me a joint birthday/Christmas present, my birthday was last September and I got some vouchers for a day out with some birds of prey
(It has been an ambition of mine for years to have a bird of prey on my arm)
There's various packages available but she doesn't do things by halves and booked a full day!
Today was the day and so off we set for Cheshire Waterlife Falconry Service, we arrived and met some others who were on the course too. Our guide for the morning was a chap called Joe and he took us for a "Meet the birds" He gave us a chat on the various birds we would be handling and then introduced them to us, we then made our way to the flying arena, 1st up was Buzz the Buzzard (Original name I thought) Buzz would fly up to a post or a tree and sit there, and as soon as he saw Joe putting some meat on our glove he came in for it
Believe it or not you could hardly tell he was on your arm, so light, weihing at less than 2lbs
We all had a couple of goes with him and then it was onto Bomber, a Harris Hawk. We were told how this was one of the few birds of prey that will hunt in groups of up to 40 which means the prey has virtually no chance whatsoever
One of the most popular birds, due to the Harry Potter films is the Snowy Owl, what a stunning creature
Embarrassingly I can't rememeber what type of eagle this was But the mornings session was finished with this chap
We retire back to the centre for a much needed brew and to get some warmth back into our toes. The others then said their farewells and were off. We then had some lunch and then the afternoon was EAGLE ENCOUNTER We had a new guide, Dean, who explained that I must be one of the luckiest people around because there was only me booked on for the afternoon session and so it was a 1-1 and would get loads of flying time, and would I mind if we flew a more than normal (AS IF!!!!!)
We start off with this fella, a Verreaux Eagle Owl, apparently one of the rarest wild owls in the world.
Once done with him I get the honour of walking back to the centre with him and then it's the turn of the Marshall Eagle called Snowflake, again we are told loads of facts and one that stands out is it's the 2nd strongest in the bird world and can squeeze with it's talons a nice soft pressure of 3000psi (Yes 3 thousand )
We get down to the arena and for wahtever reason he didn't want to play ball, Dean was very embarressed about this but said when we get back he would make up for it. Dean passes him to me and then puts a dead Quail in my gloved hand and the bird just ripped into it.
Once finished I think he was eyeing up some dessert
Whilst at the centre Dean got out one of the retired owls for me (Called Kevin)
I also feed a few chicks to these critters "Peggy Sue" the Peregrine
and Hercules (A hybrid eagle)
Finally it was time for my last bird of the day, a White Tailed Sea Eagle called Aaron, most of the other birds I could use a "normal" glove but for this fella I had to have an extra long one due to his huge feet.
So, an absolute fantastic day and the memories will stay with me forever