It was time for my latest adventure and this time it included birds of prey, lots of them! It was with a little trepidation and a lot of excitement that I, and my dad for a belated fathers day present, set off in search of these birds. Well, it was maybe a bit more trepidation as I was hoping that the birds wouldn’t think we were their prey! Somehow I don’t think ‘sorry you turned into prey dad, next year I will stick to a pair of socks or a CD‘ would quite cut it. We set off and, apart from getting a bit lost and being rescued by a randomly appearing man on a golf buggy who swooped in to point us in the right direction and then sped off again as fast as one can speed off in a golf buggy, we completed the journey successfully. Almost. We had been directed to a car park where we were meant to wait for a tractor but, luckily, we spotted the closed sign so we weren’t waiting for long as we headed out again and made our own way to our final destination, the Stockley Farm Birds of Prey Centre. We managed to park around various farm equipment and put our battle gear on – waterproofs and reliable shoes. This battle gear was then made complete when we were handed a leather sleeve. We were then ready to face the birds. My worries soon disappeared as we were introduced to the friendly and very knowledgeable guides. We then got to meet a variety of birds ranging from the cutest, scruffiest owl called Lilly to the magnificent kestrels.
The birds were amazing and we got to fly them between ourselves by tempting them with various bits of chicken. These titbits progressively got bigger with each bird until we were up to complete bodies of chicks when we were flying the kestrels. I did feel a smidgeon sorry for two nearby hens who were wearily watching us fly the kestrels by tempting them with chicken titbits. After mistakenly thinking a stone statue was a bird, yes I was the one in the group to be fooled, we then got to take the kestrels out and saw them in a more natural setting.
One wasn’t so keen at joining us until it was enticed with the prospect of a race with the other one. This race also included another participant of the tour who had to attach a food pouch to him and then leg it towards the furthest tree. The birds were released a short time after and it was amazing to watch them in hunting mode. Although, I am not so sure the participant felt the same as he was being chased by them. I was just relieved I wasn’t the one running for the trees as I was wearing boots that could fit another persons feet in and didn’t fancy my chances of being able to stay upright whilst running! The whole experience was really interesting and it was fascinating to learn more from the guides and to see so many different birds, as well as the other animals around the farm. I would highly recommend a visit there and there is lots to do for everyone! Don’t forget to nip into the café as well for a warm drink and delicious scone or sandwich. It was a really interesting way to spend a few hours.