Walking with Birds.

Saturday 1462 – 21st July 2012.

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Last Saturday I brought you a taste of Tango as I celebrated my daughter’s birthday ( it was in December!) by taking her to see a show called Midnight Tango and you can read that post here if you haven’t seen it.

This Saturday it was the turn of my son but at least his birthday is near his celebration as it’s not until Monday. My gift to him ( and to me of course 😉  )took place at the Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre and you can read about this great place here

It was a 2 hr session ( which turned out to be 2 1/2)  doing this – to quote from the website

2 Hour Hawk or Owl Experience

An experience you will never forget
On arrival at the centre we invite you to choose a bird of prey to spend time with during your visit.
To start off you are given the chance to sit with your bird for a while during a short talk on your chosen species, then receive a demonstration on how to carry the bird on your fist.
Once you are comfortable with holding the bird YOU will walk with the bird on your fist around our 42 acre centre. The beautiful woodland setting plays host to an abundance of wildlife which you can enjoy during your walk.
Sit for a while in the Flying Field and listen to a more in-depth talk on the history of falconry. Then carry on around the route back towards the reception area to sit with your bird for a while before they are returned to their blocks.
You will then be given the chance to witness a display of one of these beautiful birds in flight.
On completion of the experience we will allow you time to look around the rest of the centre and the wide variety of birds of prey that live here

Very enjoyable experience indeed and I’d recommend it to you. Here are a few photos from the day.

This first one is of the very inspirational Chris Lawton who runs the centre and talks with real passion about his mission to give Birds of Prey a safe, enjoyable life in a natural habitat. Many of the birds have been rescued but they do also breed at the centre.

First thing he talks about is respect for the birds.. I liked him 🙂

You get to choose whether you’d like to walk with an owl or a hawk.

I chose this little barn owl called Mr Pip such a beautiful bird

and my son chose this magnificent falcon ( hope I’ve got that right! )

He doesn’t look too sure does he?   My son that is.. don’t blame him just look at the beak !

We walked through the woods each carrying our birds on our hand protected by a VERY thick leather glove and you can see why if you look at the 1st picture of the falcon.. lethal talons ! When we got to the flying field we all sat at tables resting our arms ! while Chris talked to us about each of the different birds and the work of the centre which includes rescuing rare big cats ( you can read about this if you follow the link to the centre near the top of this post )  and here’s my son and his bird listening intently as well as a few of the other people in the group

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They didn’t always sit so quietly though as my son discovered

This is what my little owl did while the talk was taking place sitting in a lovely warm sun. He wasn’t used to the heat either !

After the talk we made our way back through the woods, gave our birds back then headed to the flying field again where we were each given the opportunity to have a magnificent large owl fly to us. It was the one you can see in the top picture. A great experience!. You stand sort of sideways with your back to the bird, gloved hand outstretched with food held between you fingers, looking over your shoulder as the bird flies towards you, getting bigger and bigger;  it’s beady eyes focused only on the food.

Plenty of opportunity after each flight for the obligatory memory photos 😉

I think the funniest photos of the day were taken by my son with my camera when it was my turn to have the owl fly to me.   As the Owl landed it swept its wing down my face. Not THE most flattering of photos son but very well captured !! and a reminder of a rather exhilarating feeling.

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You always feel like the birds are really in charge and I like that. If you haven’t had an opportunity to do this and you get one I’d say take it !

You can see some other posts of mine from a different Bird Of Prey Centre here

That’s me done for this week.. though I’m sure at some point there may be a few more photos posted on my other blog Photomania which you can find here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.

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30 comments on “Walking with Birds.

  1. Craig says:

    Just wanted to let you know that we visited the Rutland Falconry Centre today and the experience is one I’ll never forget… for all the wrong reasons. We were first greeted by the most disgusting toilet Ive ever seen, think Train Spotting and you’re about there! Following that, we went to ask a member pf staff if it would ok if my mother and I join my girlfriend and father on the walk, but only to take pictures, and not to part take in the full falconry experience, they said yes, for £5 per person, which we paid. We then went into the waiting area, where we were greeted by the rudest, miserable and intimidating man Ive ever seen. His aggression was only 2nd to his seeming hatred to the human race. He spoke at length about how great HE was with the birds, and how those taking part “must NOT touch the birds!” leaving all very confused as to why they were there.

    The weather today was particularly cold, so my mother and I waited in the “tea room”/shed while he gave his talk, which lasted an hour (already half the experience gone. Following his talk I asked if it would be ok if I could have the £10 I paid back, as we had decided not to walk along with the group while they did the experience. The manager then got in my face and the following conversation took place:
    Manager: “You’ve been in that room for that last hour, and now you want your money back?!”
    Me: “well, it’s snowing and raining out here, so surely you can understand why I didnt want to wait outside”
    Manager “you are ignorant, and you need to leave the site! I dont want you on here now!”
    Me: “pardon? All Im asking for is that the tenner is returned, as we arent going to come along for the walk”
    Manager: “you are the most ignorant person Ive met, here’s your tenner, now get off the site, fully off the site”
    Me: “ok, thanks, I cant leave the site as my girlfriend and father are here as paying guests today, as its my dad’s Christmas present”

    I walked away at this point.

  2. […] I have visited a beautiful woodland burial site, a 40′s re-enactment, a craft fair, theatres, listened and watched Gamelan (what’s that I can hear you ask!)  and taken you with me on a falconry trip. […]

  3. Adrian Lewis says:

    What a wonderful experience! Yes, that’s a falcon – a Peregrine or Lanner maybe – and my favourite picture is without a doubt the full frame portrait of the Barn Owl’s face – wonderful! A

  4. […] the last 2 Saturdays I shared Midnight Tango ( a birthday present to my daughter) and Walking with Birds ( a birthday present to my son) both great experiences and if you’ve missed them clicking on […]

  5. iveneverseenaplatypus says:

    Helen, birds of prey are amazing! I’m so glad you got to encounter such fantastic birds. I love the descriptions of the pictures – I’ll definitely be reading more of your adventures! 🙂

  6. Emily Gooch says:

    Lovely capture of the amazing experience. Love the face of the white owl. I took a bird watching class many years ago and it was a great learning experience. I definitely have a lot of respect for birds of all kind after the class…

  7. WOW. What an experience and a way to learn about these beautiful raptors.

  8. Mark Goodwin says:

    I love the pic where you have captured you boy and the Falcon and they are both kinda looking up in the same direction. Excellent capture, what a wonderful experience to actually be able to come so close to these wonderful animals.

  9. scillagrace says:

    Marvelous idea! What a great opportunity, and great shots! My son would LOVE this right along with me! Steve and I went to a raptor lecture & demonstration at a Nature Preserve for our first Valentine’s Day date. Then we had sushi…eat like a bird of prey: raw fish. It was a very interesting, non-traditional date. Very like us!

  10. bananabatman says:

    A super series Helen. I think that all ‘birds of prey’ make such excellent photo subjects. I think it is because they are such ‘grand’ birds, and they know it.

  11. Marleen says:

    Oh, I would love to do something like that! Always been fascinated by birds of prey but also respectfully afraid. So I’d carry a little owl like the one Chris has sitting on his shoulder.
    Steven has grown into such a handsome man! Reminds me of his father.

  12. Rachael says:

    How wonderful. And some super shots to remember the day.

  13. Eleanor Lamport says:

    Rather you than me! Lovely birds but not on my hand! Eeleanor x

  14. mary says:

    wow that was wonderful will have to try it

  15. Powerful birds and handsome son.

  16. Caroline Warnes says:

    What an amazing experience, and what beautiful birds. I think your son is holding a Peregrine Falcon although I am happy to be corrected.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      As long as it’s definitely a falcon that will do for me Caroline ! I’ve been to a couple of these kinds of places but never done a walk like this. I think what made it extra special was Chris Lawton’s passion.

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