If you don’t already know I am a huge fan of tradition so when we stayed the night in a beautiful British castle what better tradition to try than Falconry. So after spending a night like a Queen it was time to fly a Harris Hawk for the first time, I was so excited but at the same time nervous as I had never held a bird let alone flown one.
We met our bird handler in the amazing lobby surrounded by oil paintings, large chandeliers and a stunning huge fireplace. Initially when we took part in the activity it was a trial activity session and included falconry, shooting and archery – how exciting! So it was time for the adventures to begin.
Luckily for us there was only myself, Richard and another couple which meant that the experience was personal and we were able to spend much longer handling the bird. It had been snowing for a few days before we arrived at the castle and the snowy woodland made the setting for Falconry perfect.
We started with a meeting, with the bird of course, luckily for us she was fully trained so there wasn’t much training required on our part, phew!
I wouldn’t want to be responsible for loosing a Harris Hawk would I?
So with my falconry glove firmly on and a chicken feet in my hand I raised my arm up and the stunning bird came swooping down from high above the trees. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach then with a tight grip of claws around my arm this beautiful creature was sat firmly on me and I had the most perfect view of her.
Then with a firm push she was off with her wings spread and back up into the trees, following us as we strolled around the castle grounds – it was amazing. Flying high up into the trees and from one snow filled branch to the next, stopping every few yards hunting for something to catch.
For half an hour she was back and fourth and she knew exactly how to put on a show, although I’m sure the large amount of chicken feet she ate had something to do with that.
I was disappointed when the falconry had finished and sadly we had to part with her, although I was tempted to take her home!
But I was so happy that I had the chance to fly this beautiful bird in all her glory and the opportunity to handle such a powerful bird.