Sunday was a bit windy and cloudy again but at least it was dry. I was driving to Moss near Askern in South Yorkshire to spend a couple of hours in the company of Hawks and Falcons. It was a workshop with A.K Falconry.
I pulled into the small housing estate following my directions on the scrap of paper stuck on the dashboard of the Landi, I didn’t know exactly what to expect but had heard about it from my friend Emma, she had experienced A.K Falconry with her Dad a few week earlier and told me during a conversation on FB.
Its a bit different from having Gnomes in your garden!
I knew I’d found the right house because I saw five or six birds of prey sitting out on the front lawn! Aden was bring another one out from his extensive Avery. I introduced myself and Aiden introduced me to the birds, firstly Ringo and Chief the Harris Falcons, and another noisy and by far the youngest one in the corner called Ike, another Harris. A superb looking Peregrine Falcon was giving me the eye and kept flexing its wings on the perch. This creature was just so beautiful with sleek lines and a waistline to die for.
You looking at ME?
Near me a Eurasian Kestral was sitting on the garden table, just 5 months old she was extremely friendly and gorgeous! Lola was her name after a few minutes with Lola Aiden showed me into the Avery building where a pure white common barn owl bobbed about excitedly as Aiden arrived, this was Blu, unfortunately it hadn’t got the hang of the concept of doors yet because every time Aiden appeared it flew down to the door to meet him, standing right behind the door so we couldn’t open the door! In another room sat Mrs Penny-Apple. She was a huge Eurasian Eagle Owl, she was nearly up to my waist and had feet like shovels, two huge orange eyes zeroed onto me saying “t-wit t-woo” I have to admit the look she was giving me was quite intimidating to begin with! Damien the other handler said hello as he was busying himself getting the equipment ready so we left him to it and returned to the front lawn meeting the other couple of people who had arrived. Aiden spent a while explaining what we would be doing for the next couple of hours as Mum came out with cups of tea and chokki biscuits.
…I just want to fly!
The leather glove was offered to us, I put it on and one of the Harris Hawks just hopped on! Damien sorted out the short straps of leather showing me how to secure them. After a few minutes and making sure I was comfortable Aiden said “OK then shall we walk down to the fields?” Erm.. What like this with a big bird on my arm? Again Aiden asked if I was OK. I grinned nodding yes “Ok then Im up for it let’s go”! Someone else had the other Harris on their wrist and so off we went down the crescent, our Hawk experience had begun!
Get these straps off, I want to fly too!
We were on open farmland after a ten minute walk, the birds wanted to be off, the wind was gusting and Ringo kept spreading his wings when the wind began to gust in his face he rocked backwards a bit before gripping tighter catching his balance.
Let the flying begin!
I was amazed how light Ringo was, just over 1 pound in fact. Aiden said I could ” put him up” So with a quick lift of my arm Ringo went with the wind, keeping low across the field then flicking up and landed in the small tree.
A quick pit stop in the trees
Chief was also up and dipped to grass level before landing, they both looked at the tan coloured gloves. This is what they associate with food and as soon as I gave my glove to someone else, in they came! She suddenly had Ringo and Chief on the one glove looking for meat.
Ringo and Chief looking for scraps
This was fantastic even though the winds were making flying hard work and the landings on the ground a bit rough! Constantly we swapped the gloves about and both Hawks flew on and off at will, there wasnt really the need to hold your arm stock steady and call one or the other, you just had to keep your eyes on as they took turns to fly low towards you then swoop up at the last-minute to lightly hop on, latching tightly with razor-sharp talons.
Right then… what do I do now??
Can someone come and take the lens cap off?
A closer look at Ringo standing in the grass
Ringo is too quick for me and I only manage a blurry photo
The winds got stronger and unfortunately they tired and began to spend more time standing than flying in fact Chief stood there in the grass and waited for Damien to go and fetch him!
Chief waits for a lift from Damien
We made our way back to the lane and walked back to the house through the housing estate.
We watched Ike a very young Harris Hawk. Damien hadn’t got Ikes full trust as yet though he did make a few flights from perch to glove, it would take time to build up the trust between them. Ike just had a few minutes doing this before retiring to his room.
Mrs Penny-Apple cuddles with Damien
Damien returned with Mrs Penny-Apple for us to take a close look at…or was it for her to take a close look at us? She had HUGE claws and stepped up to the glove locking on. She was beautiful and opened her wings to give Damien a hug as he gently stroked her…I kid you not. Blu still stood behind the door so didn’t come out today! We took a close look at the newly acquired Peregrine Falcon, Aiden put the leather hood on and let me have the glove! Wow this was some beauty, only half the size of the Harris Hawks but twice the weight.
Photo taken by Damien on my camera phone of me and Lola
Time passed very quickly and it was soon time to leave. It had been a great hawk experience indeed. I think I will go see them again soon, Id like to get some practice with the camera and try and get some clear photos of the Harris duo in the air, in a few months if the training goes well Aiden will have FOUR Harris Hawks in the air at the same time, wouldn’t that be something? You can find Aiden’s A.K Falconry Facebook page on this link with more photos information and when the next events are
Aiden of A.K Falconry with Ringo…or is it Chief!