For Feb 13th my daughter Katy had organised a visit to a birds of prey centre at Stockley Farm, Cheshire as a treat for Jamie’s 11th birthday. Jamie wanted Granddad to go as well so I helped transport some of the 7 kids and adults.
I have never previously ever had any desire to visit such a place when I have had opportunity away on holiday. However, I have to say, that Saturday 13th Feb 2016 will live long in my memory as a simply wonderful experience.
Gary and Pam took us out from the centre with a Harris Hawk (Georgia) on gloved hand. She was free to fly off at will, often landing in a tree above us, always returning to the hand for a tit bit. Shredded chick-meat was the tempting bait but it looked more like a bundle of feathers! Each of the kids took turns to experience the bird returning to their gloved hands from a position in the trees. Wonder and joy and excitement was written over their faces. For me the special highlight of the hour was seeing the hawk take off and land on the ground a couple of hundred metres away – after a rabbit Gary said – and then return from that distance when she saw a tit bit being jiggled on a gloved hand! They told us of the exceptional sight that hawks etc have.
Back at the centre we were introduced to other hawks and some owls, including the European Eagle Owl, which is the biggest owl of the lot. The barn owl was so soft to touch - so beautiful.
As a dedicated bird watcher I had some interesting conversation with Gary and Pam. The children asked some pretty intelligent questions and I was surprised at the knowledge some of them displayed. I had the bright idea to ask Pam for a couple of feathers for Jamie’s nature table and she returned with a kestrel feather and one from a Harris Hawk – what a memento from the visit!
Add to all this the farm animals and the bouncy castle and the kids had a very special experience to remember.