This might just as easily go in Out and About, or even photography, so if a mod wants to move it, that's fine. I've put it here because most of the pictures are of birds.
Anyway, my wife and I booked a falconry experience day on friday, and I thought I would share a few pictures.
We booked with Hawksdrift falconry, in mid Wales, and our host was Layla, who apart from being an excellent falconer in her own right also has a claim to fame for being a successful contestant on the Dragon's Den programme, for those familiar with it. The day actually took place at Nanneth farm, north of Rhayader, in the Wye valley.
First up we flew Olivia the Barn Owl, in a series of short hops from person to person along a beautiful riverside stretch of the upper Wye valley.
Tracy and Olivia. Tracy had specially requested an owl, and Olivia was her favourite bird of the day.
A meeting of minds. Well, two birdbrains, anyway...
Then we took a stroll futher along some tracks with Layla's favourite bird, a Harris Hawk called Hope.
Hope liked to explore. You never know, there might be a rabbit about somewhere...
"Got an 'arris 'awk on me 'ead, guv", or "What the hell is this thing I've landed on now?"
After a break for refrshments we went out to a field behind the farm and Layla flew Midget, a Lanner falcon, to a lure, and Tracy got to feed him afterwards. Actually, first Layla had to go and retrieve him after he flew off with the lure to another field in a burst of enthusiasm. His dive to the lure was fantastic, as when he folded his wings up he was coming straight at me and the speed increase was amazing.
Our host Layla and Midget
Tracy feeding Midget
Finally we went up to the top of the hill with Spark, a Peregrine cross with a Gyrfalcon, By this point conditions were less than ideal from the falcon's point of view, and it was hard work for the bird, so Layla kept it brief, again flying him to a lure. When you have a peregrine hurtle out of a dive and go speeding past your foot just inches from the ground you realise that this is indeed the fastest living thing in the world. Layla said if conditons had been better he could have gone much quicker, which frankly is astonishing. I got to feed him afterwards.
'Mantling' over the lure after catching it
See, fat blokes can get a gorgeous bird on their arm sometimes
The one bird we saw, but didn't fly, was Monty, a Gyrfalcon (Greenland falcon) crossed with a Saker falcon (a desert bird). Amazing looking creature. Apparently Gyr have very poor immune systems, so are usually crossed to prevent them succumbing to infections. A cross with a Saker can only be done artifically, so this is a rare crossbreed, and is Layla's main publicity bird.
Tracy and I had a fantastic day with some superb animals. If you've never had a falconry day, I strongly recommend that you look up one near you. We now have some wonderful memories.
Thanks for reading.