For Peter's 13th birthday we had a private session with the falconer Gary. He was brilliant with Peter, and was very passionate about his birds.
He started with a history of falconry and some information about the different types of birds, then we got to hold some that we weren't going to fly, including a lovely little merlin.
We then moved out into the arena where we were able to fly the bigger birds, such as the Harris Hawk here. Each of us got a chance to have the hawks land on our arms, then fly off, and land again.
Gary also put the birds though their paces flying from post to post.
They are so accurate in their movements, that even though it looks like they are in for a crash landing they elegantly pull up at the last minute.
Gary threw a piece of meat up into the air and I managed to get a photo of the hawk flying up to get it, then following it down and getting it before it hit the ground. I am amazed I got any photos of it as it all happened so fast! The little black dot is not a speck on the screen, it is the piece of meat!
This is an Eagle Owl from India. Owls have to be hand reared to work with humans, as they are normally solitary hunters, unlike the hawks who are usually parent reared. Hawks know they are hawks, and will work with humans as they are used to working cooperatively to hunt. On the other hand, this owl thinks he is human!
He took a liking to Peter. We had been told not to hoot at him as he was approaching his mating time, and they didn't want him to latch onto a human. However, he did seem to like Peter a lot, and Peter said it was all he could do to resist hooting at him!
As we were the only ones there, Gary had no problem setting up a couple of shots for me. I still haven't got to grips with the camera though so they are not the best, and the weather didn't help, but it does give you an idea of the wing spans of these beautiful birds.