Thursday, 8 August 2013

Lifestyle Post: Owl Handling & Flying - Absolutely Amazing! (Lots of Pictures)

Hey everyone,
 
Sorry I haven't got back to your comments very quickly, I've been super busy, I haven't even had a chance to read any blogs for a few days! But everythings a lot less busy now, so back to normal hopefully :)
 
So, I have a lifestyle post for you today and its about my trip to The English School of Falconry, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. It was literally one of the best days I have ever had and I enjoyed it so, so much!
 
I am completely animal mad, I absolutely love all little creatures and I actually didn't speak to my Fiance for days when we first started getting together because he squished a fly, now hes been converted into an animal lover, including the creepy crawlies that he hated so much before, haha. One animal I absolutely love is owls, my late Nan was absolutely obsessed with them and I've always loved them because of her. 
 
So, when I saw there was a deal on the Mighty Deals website a few months ago for tickets to The English School of Falconry for a half owl day which comprised of three hours of handling and flying owls and a bird of prey display for the mere price of £18 a ticket, I ordered two tickets for my Fiance and I straight away. The regular price is £78 per person, which I think is still a good price if you consider that at my nearest zoo, Paradise Wildlife Park it costs £50 for ten minutes to feed a tapir, lets be honest, its only 10 minutes and they're not as interesting as owls, sorry tapirs but its true!

We booked up to go on Tuesday 8th August and the weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot, there was 9 of us in total in the group which was good because group sizes can sometimes be 20 people, which means you don't get to handle as many birds because it takes too long to pass them around. We had to be there at 10am and it finishes at 1pm but you could stay and walk around and see another display at 3pm if you wanted to, which I really did, but we had to get back.

So, first we all went to handle some owls, there was three owls being passed around and we had to put the falconer's glove on then the falconer doing our tour, Emily, came and brought the bird to you, then you got to hold them for a good 3 or 4 minutes.

 
I was given this little fella and Luke had another one which I think was a Tawny Owl. The owls are so tame and its just so nice to see them up close.

 
Next we got to hold this gorgeous Barn Owl, this one did flap about once or twice as you can see but it meant we got some great photos!

 
 
Lastly I got to hold the Tawny Owl which was so adorable. The atmosphere there was so relaxed, the falconer was telling us all about the birds, she was so informative and answered any questions anyone had but whilst she was talking you could stand in your own groups, taking photos and talking amongst yourselves. I really liked that it wasn't sort a single file line waiting to hold a bird while everyone else stared at you, it was very casual and made you feel so at ease.
 
 

There wasn't just owls, the centre had over 300 birds of prey and there was everything from little to large. The ones photographed above are in little holding pens as that is where they are kept if they are being handled/flown on that day. They weigh every bird every day to see which ones would be suitable for flying that day, they have to be hungry enough to come for food, but not too hungry that they might fly off and hunt for themselves.

 
 
 Lastly, Luke got to hold the smaller owl, which I think might have been the Long Eared Owl, all the birds we handled first are native to Britain too. My Mum came along as a spectator, it cost £15 to be a spectator and that meant she could come along and watch, take pictures etc! Me and my Mum are best friends and I try to drag her along with me anywhere I go, haha.
 
 
Here are some pictures just to show you what it is like walking around the centre. Its all gravelled paths bordered with bushes and huge trees and there is also a lake that they take the birds of prey fishing in. The centre is in the middle of the countryside so it is surrounded by fields. They take the birds out hunting in the woods and fields and you can actually pay for all different types of activities at the centre, hunting with hawks, training to be a falconer, owl days, eagle days etc, there are so many options.
 
 
Then we got to the flying part, which was so amazing! The falconer held a piece of meat on the glove and they flew to you from a tree stump probably about 25 foot away. The first owl that we flew was one of the ones we held earlier, the Tawny Owl.

 
We then got to the fly the Great Grey Owl which was the cutest thing, but quite heavy and much bigger than the ones we were holding before, hense me holding it as far away as possible, haha.

 
Then we got to fly the Eagle Owl which was really heavy! When she went to put the meat on my glove, it fell to the floor and the bird came swooping over and I thought it was going to land on the floor but it came towards the glove and landed on the glove as I was stepping away, which is why it looks like I am running away lol.

 
This one was stunning but just really heavy, I couldn't hold it for long at all! One of the other birds at the centre, the same species of owl had gone out hunting a few weeks ago, and actually caught a fox, just to give you an idea of how powerful they are!

 
He didn't want to get off of Luke and kept pecking her glove, haha. These owls and all the other birds at the centre are hand reared and each bird is taken home with a falconer for 10 weeks where they begin training them, they take them out for walks around the streets, to pubs, the drive-thru, pretty much everywhere to get them used to people and noises. What a job, I am very jealous!
 
 
Then we went to the 12 o'clock display, no two displays are the same, they are all unique. The first part of the display was owls and there was probably 4/5 owls darting above our heads, they swooped so low and skimmed everyones heads, it was so amazing to watch.


 
The owls all perched on this fence a few foot away and it was such a brilliant introduction to the show. We also had a post a few foot away next to Luke's head that all of them flew to and landed on, it was just so surreal to have all these owls flying above you!


Next, they showed us this bird, I thought it was called the Cara Cara bird but after googling that, I'm not sure what it was! But it was supposed to be one of the cleverest birds in the world and it actually landed on one of the falconer's head, haha. Then when it had had enough it just flew back to its cage, which I thought was crazy!

 
Then they brought of the storks, these are obviously not birds of prey, but someone bet the owner of the centre that he couldn't train one, so he did, then he got two more. The first bird that came out was so tame that it was the only one of its kind in the UK that hasn't had to have its wings clipped, so its free to fly as high as it wants. These all just waddled back to their cages when they had eaten enough too, I couldn't believe that they all just went back home when they'd had enough.

 
 Next out were the two pelicans, which are also not a bird of prey species, they were running about with the storks. They were feeding these whole fish and you could see the silhouette of the fish in their throat and beak as it went down, it was really weird! These were so funny though, they just reminded me of old men, haha.


This was the best part of the show, this was a Peregrine Falcon and it is the fasted animal in the world, when it swoops down on its prey, it can reach over 260 mph! It was amazing to watch this bird, it was right up in the sky then it would swoop down above all our heads and you'd hear it woosh past your eye, it got so close and you just had to shut your eyes it was too quick to register. It flew straight in between me and my Mum, it was just the craziest thing, I could have sat there all day watching it.

One of the falconers was controlling its flight with a 'lure' it was called which was basically a long rope with a bag of meat on the end that he swung around directing the birds flight, he was so skillful and it was amazing to watch. When the bird was starting to get tired, the falconer shouted out and the bird just swooped onto the bag mid air and slammed it into the ground, it was so incredible to see how this bird would hunt in the wild.

 

 
Two young Bald Eagles were the next birds we saw and they were huge, they were swooping over our heads and flying right up in the trees, these were fully grown but still developing their colourings.
 
 
The last bird we saw was this one, and I cannot remember the name of it, but we went down to the lake and watched in hunt in the water which was really good :) The show was amazing, it lasted 45 minutes but it seemed like it was only 10 minutes everything was just so interesting, you didn't know where to look next.
 
 
We were then lucky enough to get to stroke some baby Great Grey Owls! You aren't allowed to stroke any of the birds because the oils in our skin can damage their feathers easily whereas the babies feathers are still fluffy so we were ok to stroke them. They were so soft and fluffy but when you put your fingers a little deeper they felt all spikey, it was really not what I expected them to feel like at all! If you tickled their head they made this lovely little sound and shook their head side to side and it looked like they were smiling, it was the cutest thing I have ever seen. They were like little vibrating furbies, they loved being tickled and were so friendly.
 
 
Lastly, we got to hold two more owls before we went home, these ones were bigger than the first ones we held. In these pictures the owl had its mouth open and it was so loud! It kept screeching and it hurt your ear so much, haha.

 
This little cutie nestled right up into Luke's chest, it was adorable.

 
This picture makes me laugh, the way he's holding his wing reminds me on the Dracula holding his cape across his face pose, haha!
 
 
This is the only picture I had of me and the little screechy bird, but you can see how much bigger it is than the first owls we held and a lot heavier too!

 
Lastly, we got to hold this owl which was also so heavy! I couldn't hold either of these two for long, my arm was nearly falling off! I can't remember what either of these owls were called, which is annoying but they were both just as lovely as all others we met!


 Last picture I promise! This is one of a little boy holding a Chilean Blue Eagle, probably my favourite bird of the day, it was just so beautiful and the kids all seemed to love it there!

Overall I couldn't recommend this place more, it was excellent value for money, the staff were amazing and wonderfully laid back, its perfect for adults and children and I will definitely be revisiting often.

I had already booked a Big Bird of Prey experience at the same time as the owl one, with Amazon Local Deals, I cannot wait to go and this time it will be holding and flying all the big eagles, I don't know how I will hold them up if I was strugging with the owls though, haha.

Its set in a wonderful location and there is also a airplane hangar and restaurant literally on the same plot of land so you can sit in the restaurant and watch all the old fashioned planes taking off while you wait for the next show or whatever, such a lovely place to visit.

Check out the website, there's currently some really good offers on and you can read more about the centre, the birds and the experience days on the website which you can find HERE !

Sorry, this was such a long post and with way too many pictures but it was just such an amazing day, I had to share it with you guys!

Don't forget to enter my competition to win a bundle of 16 makeup items including Essie, Benefit, Bourjois, Dainty Doll and more! ENTER HERE!

Thanks for reading!

Have you ever done anything like this?

Emily :) x

 
 

12 comments:

  1. I just tagged you in my most recent post!

    Georgina
    xx

    http://pictureperfectmakeup06.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. OMG, what an amazing experience! I think birds are the most beautiful creatures, I'm fascinated by them. Thanks so much for sharing, I really loved this post! xx

    ferdies-place.blogspot.com

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    1. Me too, I absolutely love them :) No problem, I'm so glad you liked it :D xxx

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  3. great post! I really like your blog so I just nominated you for the liebster award, go check out my most recent blog post for more details :)

    http://beccahearts.blogspot.co.uk/ x

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  4. How cool and kinda random at the same time! And your fiancé is cute ;)

    Sarah
    Eyeshadow Addicts Anonymous

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    1. Haha, yeah it is pretty random! Ah, thank you, I definitely agree with you there! ;) xxx

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  5. I love owls so much! That's amazing, I'm so jealous xx

    http://dinosaursoiree.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Me too, I have owl ornaments and owl themed things everywhere :p It was such an incredible experience :) xxx

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  6. This looks like such a nice place and it's so close to where i live, i definitely need to make a little visit, my nan loves owls so this would make a lovely gift! x

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    1. Its only about 25 minutes away from me, so close enough too :D It was really amazing, I'm sure you and your Nan would love it :) xxx

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