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Introduction to falconry at the Birds of Prey Centre

falconry2

The second of my themed year ‘hobbies’ was falconry, following my one-day film school for the first.  For this one I went to the Birds of Prey Centre at Old Warden Park near Biggleswade.  They have over 300 birds of prey there, ranging from small owls and kestrels up to big golden eagles.  The introductory course began with handling the birds and growing accustomed to their presence and traits.  We began with small, quite exotic foreign owls, moving on to larger birds.  Then came several varieties of falcon.

The fun part came when the birds flew and came in to settle on my gloved outstretched hand.  The owls did this readily, but the eagles had to be encouraged by pieces of dead chick held in the fingers of the glove for them to fly up to, settle on the glove, and swallow whole.  It might not be for the very squeamish.  All in all it was a thrilling experience and a very rewarding time spent learning totally new things. Oh, and I had to repair a three-inch gash in the sleeve of my down jacket, caused by the talons of an eagle that slightly misjudged where the glove was.

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