Blimey! Buzzards!

Monday, 28 March 2011

If you get a chance to go on a bird of prey experience day I highly recommend doing it! Afterall, how else would you get up, close and personal with such beautiful birds? Like many people I'm sure, I didn't know what to expect as we approached Gauntlet Birds of Prey. There were hundreds of questions running through my mind, like "Will I be the only one?" or "How heavy are these birds going to be?" The place itself was a brilliant place to visit. The staff were passionate about what they do, the enclosures were clean and spacious and despite it being in the middle of nowhere (as most places are in Cheshire) it had a great professional air to it.

We started off the day with a buzzard, 10 month old kestrel, tawny owl and another owl who refused to keep quiet. They were fairly easy to handle but tying the falconers knot onto the glove was beyond me. I was quite happy to tie it to the stand, but once it came to tying the bird to my glove I was at a complete loss! I was shown 4 times and 4 times I failed miserably xD Next was flying an owl inside, after seeing a rather gross demonstration of how the food was prepared. My stomach is usually quite steady, but whether because I'd had little sleep or because I'm softening up, the sight of yolk and entrails spilling from the rear of a day old chick was a little too much.

Outside we played with hooded vultures and the Harris Hawks, both of which seemed content to either fly into me or hit me in the face repeatedly with their wings. It's surprising how much a thwap from one of those wings can hurt! Perhaps not so surprising in the case of the vulture, but certainly with the hawk. I felt like a naughty child being given an admonishing slap round the head.

All in all it was an amazing day and I'd love to do another one!!! Maybe kick it up a notch and go for eagles :D Though I could barely support a vulture on my arm, I hardly think an eagle is the way forward xD



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