Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Dolly, Bandit, Jura and Brenin

Both of us have wanted to try our hand at falconry for quite some time. So when we saw that Dalhousie Castle had a falconry centre within the grounds we jumped at the chance, booking two different sessions so we could experience as wide a range of the birds as possible. The first session we had was billed as "The Ultimate Falconry Experience" and is designed to allow you to experience as many of the birds as possible.

We started the session by flying Dolly. Dolly is a Buzzard, the same as you may see flying in the sky across many parts of the UK.

Dolly looked huge, especially when she was flying towards your glove. She was, however, exceptionally light. We were both a bit worried about holding a large heavy bird for too long on our wrists but it really is a shock to find out just how light they really are.

After Dolly we flew Bandit who is a New Zealand BooBook Owl. Given that Bandit is an owl he flies and sits very much like a hawk.

Bandit was definitely our favourite bird to fly, although some of the birds that couldn't be flown (some were mating and some malting) may well have challenged for our affections.

After Bandit, we had a demonstration of Jura, a female kestrel, flying to a lure. Bryony actually got to hold Jura while we walked to the area and the falconer started to spin the lure. To look at close too Jura was one of the best birds. All the more interesting as we see kestrels so often but never close enough to really appreciate their fantastic colouring.

After Jura, we moved onto the last bird of the session; Brenin a Harris' Hawk. Don't get me wrong flying Brenin was really good fun, but he just wasn't quite as engaging as any of the other birds. That and the fact that he tried to take your head off every time he jumped from the glove and his propensity to throw dead chicken down the front of your t-shirt didn't really help.

All in all a very enjoyable morning and something that if you haven't tried before you really should.
9 July 2008 at 09:01 , L'homme bizarre avec la barbe grise said...

That really threw me. I know that there is only one surviving type of native owl in New Zealand: the Morepork or, in Maori, Ruru. So where did this BooBook come from? Wikipedia supplied the answer at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Boobook Oddly the New Zealand encyclopedia Te Ara says that in N Z it is known as the BooBook only on Norfolk Island. We live. We learn. As an aside I have a Morepork living in a tree near The Cottage. I hear him (or her) but I've never been lucky enough to see him (or her).

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