As yesterday’s readers will know, we visited this charitable body dedicated to the preservation of birds of prey in a natural environment, but that I had insufficient time to produce the pictures.
The trust’s own website https://www.hawk-conservancy.org will give details of this marvellous resource.
During the day there are three different public displays, this first of which we missed because we were so late, and the third I missed because I needed to take a rest. Before the 2 p.m. presentation we wandered around the lengthy rows of aviaries for individual species.
Little burrowing owls were the first I encountered.
Bald eagles came next. One, preening, looked warm, fluffy and much less fierce.
There were other eagles;
Harris and harrier hawks;
palm nut vultures;
preening eagle owls splendidly camouflaged.
white headed preening vultures looking rather ragged;
others on steps;
a bateleur eagle turning its back on
a blinking secretary bird.
In the ancient wildflower meadow groups of visitors were given the thrill of dressing up and providing a living tableau of medieval residents. Two young girls pulled a plough; boys ran around with butterfly nets; a goose girl was led by her charges; a royal party engaged in a progress; bee keepers tended their hives and a pair of miniature donkeys were taken to work.
A barn owl was released to perch on a log.
Ben, who began his career in the trust as a ten year old volunteer, was at home with his vulture.
Mike, the Sarson’s falconer, displayed his skills, from releasing the bird to calling it up to replace its hood, the purpose of which is to calm the falcon. I imagine this is like a small child covering its own eyes so you can’t see it. The square frame in the first two pictures is known as a cadge, on which the hooded creature is carried to the field.
We were entertained by exhibitions of flying kites and vultures.
Speeding over the heads of the rows of spectators these birds both delighted and terrified assembled children.
As the event came to a close, the threatening clouds overlooking the final aerobatics released their load and we fled for cover.
At one point we wondered whether Nugget had arrived before us. Then we realised that the row of robins on the sleepers were it fact metal sculptures.