I had been given a voucher to visit a Falconry centre as a Xmas gift, now, anyone who is familiar with my feelings toward caged or tethered animals will be surprised to learn that against my better judgment I decided to use the voucher, mainly because it was a gift and if I had not used it then I would have felt guilty.
I have a life long love for birds of prey and was not sure of how I would feel, to see these wonderful birds tied to a block on the grass all day and then locked up in the dark all night. This is not the picture that I have in my head of how a bird of prey should be seen, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the birds looked healthy, fit and seemed to be enjoying their lot.
I had been assigned to walk with a falconer called Tony, who was very knowledgeable and friendly. We walked for nearly an hour along the country lanes of N/Yorkshire, with a Harris Hawk called Rolf (no prizes as to why he was given that name).While Rolf was flying free along the lanes he flushed out one pheasant, two Partridges and a Wood pigeon, but failed to catch any of them.
I had informed Tony at the start of our walk, that I had never in my life held a bird of prey on my hand, to which he smiled and said " He could kiss people like me" meaning… that there are many people who buy or take direct from the wild, birds of prey just to feed their ego’s. and eventually the novelty wears off and the bird is subjected to neglect and mistreatment. Although I have loved these wonderful birds all my life I have never once felt that I could do the bird justice and so have resisted the temptation to own one just to boost my ego. If anyone who reads this should be thinking of buying a bird of prey please think very long and very hard.
After the walk we were treated to a display of various birds of prey, very impressive I thought, slowly my opinion of falconry centres began to change. I would now thoroughly recommend anyone to visit one. I found it most interesting plus I gained an experience that I thought would never happen… a bird of prey on my hand. I felt humbled and privileged in Rolf’s presence. A wonderful day out indeed.