Friday, 2 July 2010

Tempest Fugit

Last week I was on a weeks holiday. And I had big plans to write a blog a few times during the week. But as ever, time flew by, it was too hot to think. So the best laid plans of mice and men fell by the wayside and as such as a belated update, a quick update from a wonderful day at Mere Down Falconry last week.

Back in March as both Julie and I have birthdays 4 days apart I bought as a joint birthday present a full day flying experience with Mere Down Falconry, near Mere on the Wiltshire and Dorset border. And we picked a fabulous Tuesday to do this as as this is a one man band operation only Julie and I were there with Alan Gates the falconer. What a day.

Arriving in hot sunny weather at only 10am we wondered what the day would be like, but needn't have worried. After coffee and a chat Alan showed us his collection of birds ranging in size from a Golden Eagle to a Little Owl.

We were particularly taken with Peace a Barn Owl which had such a gentle manner we flew and fed it ourselves. And Bramble above, the sleepiest Tawny Owl I've even seen. Flying for Bramble was a chore but he managed it, a couple of times. Alan also brought out the falcons and flew them from the lure, having a falcon zip past one's head at break neck speed was a glorious feeling. But after 3 hours or so we'd fed and watered all but two of the birds, Molly and Bond, related Harris Hawks.

That was for the afternoon.

And what an afternoon. If you ever want to feel like someone in tune with a wild animal and be part of that animal's environment, I'd recommend you go for a 3 hour walk through countryside with two free flying Harris Hawks. The sensation of walking, the birds flying past, over, alongside and behind us and the glorious countryside, it was an experience I will never forget. I loved the fact too that the birds would come onto the gauntlet and sit there while we walked along. It really is something to have a killer on one's arm and only 6 inches away.

Above, Julie with Molly when we stopped for a rest. Molly sat on Julie's arm for ages. Whereas Bond below decided my shoes needed a good seeing to.

The final picture just says it all for me. I lay back on the grass, Bond sat on my leg and watch the world go by. It was hot, it was sunny, and I was at peace with the world with my bird for the day. Yes these may be imprinted birds, but they're still wild enough to fly free and enjoy a good life.

An absolutely fantastic way to spend a day, just the two of us with Alan the falconer and some stunning birds of prey. I'm absolutely hooked.


  1. What a great way to spend a day, and really different too. I think birthday gifts of things to do are so much better than more stuff to clutter yourself up with. Nice post as always.

  2. This looks amazing. I'm definitely putting it on my wish list for my next birthday. Trouble is it's in December, so it won't be so warm!

  3. Thanks Goosey, it was certainly a special day.

  4. Hi Jane, actually Alan the falconer said winter is often a great time to do the free flying walk - less cover and the birds often fly harder (presumably to keep warm)

  5. Hi Andrew - sorry I've been so rubbish at keeping in touch of late - it's been SO busy with work and this summer in France has been SO dry too so much of my spare time has been out watering in the evenings... hope your summer is going well for you, still haven't made it over to Bristol as yet this year... not sure when this might be at the moment! Been an exciting day today - I was thrilled to see the return of the Nuthatch here and this morning spotted 3 of them in the garden which is fab - had quite missed them and their antics on the bird table! Hope they're here to stay. Then whilst making a coffee this afternoon a very young weasel decided to approach the front door and scuttled away again - simple things to keep us entertained in the countryside!! Enjoy your weekend and will visit again soon.. Miranda