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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday 14 June 2024

Flying the raptors.

How does the saying go? Best be early than late? But 90 minutes may have been a bit OTT. It was 9:15 am when we took the very sharp right-hander into the dead-end lane leading to the  Bird of Prey center. The lane is narrow, can't stress that enough and even with passing places, which in a car would be okay, was impossible for a motorhome. So imagine our dismay when coming toward us was a tractor with trailer. A short distance back was an open gate to a field, Ian reversed MB, the tractor driver beckoned that he wanted to go straight on, so nothing for it but reverse into the field and hope the ground was hard enough to support MB. Thankfully it was and luckily nothing more was met but a sigh of relief from us both when we got to the car park.

After several cups of coffee, (blast hope I don't need the loo during the 3 hours) we were met by David and Keiran. Keiran was holding a Lannar falcon called Daisy. This falcon hates David although it should be very grateful to him for saving her life. Daisy was ill and had to be taken to the vet, reason enough for Daisy to hate him but it was the force-feeding he had to do to get her better that irked the bird, and has never forgiven him for it! When Keiren flies Daisy, David scarpers, we saw just this later in the day.

A short walk up a steepish slope was the area for Breeze to fly. Breeze is a Buzzard more interested in finding worms for himself than the chick legs offered. Took a while before he finally started to perform but when he did, he was magnificent and for a biggish bird, very light when it came to landing on the arm.


 Having spent a good 30 minutes with Breeze, he was taken back to the avairy and Daisys was brought out. She still wore the blinders (hood) because until David was out of sight, all her attention would be in getting back at him.So taking the order for out lunch,  he legged it back down the hill. Yep, lunch was to be served at Elaines Tea Rooms a stone's throw from the carpark. Goody...a toilet break. Once David was out of sight, the hood came off and Daisy was allowed to fly. This time the only one doing the flying was Keiren, A lure was used and that takes some skill in mastering the art. It was used to demonstrate how swift this bird was in catching prey.



Back down the hill to the Tea Rooms. Egg and sausage burger for me, Bacon and egg for Ian, and a basket of chips to share, a welcome cup of Yorkshire tea was also brought out.

Lunch over the Harris Hawk Michael was brought out. We went for a long walk, and another climb to where the views were pretty spectacular. Michael followed flying from one tree to another until nearly at the top we stopped to admire the views and get him flying onto the gloves. A good hour was taken up, the wind became a bit of a problem and Michael found it difficult to land on our arms because of the direction we had taken.

So it was decided to go back to the field, bring out Violet, a Peregrine Falcon Hybrid, with the aim of gaining as much height as possible before diving for a peice of quail thrown to the ground. Wow, what a bird. It had a tracker on it which recorded the dive at 50mph. She has been known to reach 90 mph!Amazing. Of course she was mobbed by other birds, it was gulls this time that harassed Violet.

 There was one more bird to handle, a gorgeous young Specaelled Owl called Elton. It was the black eyes that made David think of the name, Elton suited it very well. Still only 9 weeks old, it was just starting the training and could only manage short flights. A tether was attached to its leg purely for the safety of the bird. Too young to fend for itself, if it got spooked and tried to fly away, would never be able to survive. I think Elton was by far my favorite. What a magnificent bird he is yet to become.

 Three hours flew by, and all too soon it was over. We will never be able to thank Marilyn and David enough for this wonderful gift. All we can say is thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. This is one day we will never forget. Xxxxx


Jenny said...

What a great day you had with those magnificent birds,

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

I am so pleased you had a great time. It looks amazing and the expressions on your faces showed just how much you were loving it.

You are welcome, sweethearts - you did a huge amount to help us and we truly appreciated it.


Ian and Irene Jameison said...

It was brilliant Jenny, thank you. Xxx

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

You and David are just the best and we love you very much. The most memorable day for a long time. Xxxx

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