Saturday, September 03, 2011

North Devon Hawk Walks

How about this for an experience? Falcolnry, but not just watching, actually getting to have the birds fly to and from your arm! It was amazing.
We didn't have the best weather in the world, after all the sunshine of the previous three days, but at least it didn't rain while we were there. We drove to the little village of Withypool (mentioned previously) and met Nigel Penfold, the Falcolner. He took us up into the hills above Withypool and from there we walked about 100 metres down into the valley. After that we took it in turns to do things with the birds.
Nigel took two birds with him, Cassius and Lady MacBeth. We spent ages with Cassius, the younger bird. They are both Harris hawks. He told us all about them - their features, how they fly and hunt, etc. It was very interesting. We wore a thick leather glove on our left hand and Nigel gave us bits of rabbit to hold and the bird would fly onto the glove, eat the meat, stay for a bit and then fly off into a tree about another 100 metres away from us.
We were with the birds for an hour so we all got a fair few times of doing this. My only criticisms of the whole experience were that it didn't really qualify as a walk, since we didn't really walk anywhere. And we didn't see much of Lady MacBeth because she wasn't hungry - we'd booked this a month in advance so you'd have thought he would have not fed her to ensure she was hungry, wouldn't you?
Still, it was a great way to end the school holidays. The girls really enjoyed it and I can't think of anywhere else where you can do this, certainly not in your average theme park or zoo. If you're interested, just Google 'North Devon Hawk Walks' and you'll find Nigel's website. It costs £10 per person.