Hawks and Me

birds, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, photography

Flying hawks can be a full time job, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  My 3 Harris hawks all have different characters.  Loki is my prince, he is so loyal and mild mannered everyone who meets him falls in love a little bit.

Loki Feb 2018

Loki Feb 2018

He and I enjoy long walks across the fields; this afternoon he watched me bash tall patches of stinging nettles with a stick – how have they all grown so fast already? – Loki is watching out for any animal he can grab and flies between the branches following me, sometimes dashing past and clipping my shoulder with his wing tip as if to say ‘I’m still here, right with you’.

He rarely catches anything, but always gets a good dinner back in his aviary.  Such a lucky, happy hawk, and lady!

 

 

The other 2 boys are quite different to work with.  We haven’t known each other for as long as Loki and I as they both came to me just last Autumn.

Chiko Feb 2018

Chiko Feb 2018

Chiko had a reputation for being noisy and moody, often a new owner can change this pattern of behaviour however he is persisting – I call him Father Jack most days 🙂 He is a quick flier and good to handle, just grumpy! He is in moult now so has an excuse, I am letting him be for a while and hope he is in a better mood soon!

 

Thor is the eldest hawk of the 3 being 5 years old.  They can live to 18 years or so in captivity and at 5 yrs old Thor knows what to do to have an easy life and get food.  They are very clever birds, enjoying a hunt and also knowing, or could I say understanding, the relationship we have and therefore allowing themselves to be tethered again.

Thor Jan 2018

Thor Jan 2018

That is the real thrill for me.  Having that unspoken bond with a species so different to us.

 

My I have had the pleasure of sharing this amazing experience with many different people this winter, even in the snow!

And finally, and quite magnificently, I have my Redtailed hawk who is cousin to our buzzards – the first birds of prey I fell in love with.  She came to me with the name Cleopatra, but I called her Isie after my mum, who was a North American bird too 🙂  Isie is the largest of all my hawks, and the most timid.  She will only bath indoors, very demure, and gives everyone a beautiful display of her wings as they approach to show how big she is.  She does fly for me when in the mood, and it is wonderful to see her in full flight.

Isie Feb 2018

Isie Jan 2018

Hope to see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Birds

art, birds, cute, events, fairies, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, Hoots, nature, Owls, Owls, photography

Training and caring for my birds certainly keeps me busy, and I try to make sure the birds keep busy too.  The past few months have seen the birds entertaining families while they get creative in the yurt; hosting summer feast nights; giving people the thrill of having a bird of prey fly to their glove for food and taking part in several bespoke photo shoots.

The feast nights brought lots of new people to the Owl Field in August.  With the Keep Cornwall Fed chefs and Kim’s Kitchen cooking up some delicious meals we will definitely be planning more for 2018.

Photography sessions have also been a big part of our activity, and the cows like to join in too and surprised Maryna of Photography by Maryna!  She got her bag back with only a little cow slobber on it!!

So if I ever wonder if I am doing the right thing – I look at my birds, reflect on how much we have achieved together, and know that I am doing exactly the right thing…then I put the kettle on!

Harlequin Ladybirds and other Aliens

birds, cute, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, Owls, photography, Shed

As the days got colder I noticed visitors in my owl shed, ladybirds were gathering to hibernate – how cute I thought!!

ladybird-party

Ladybird party

They even looked like they were having a party with a spider and woodlouse, or chuggypig as my brother calls them.

I was thrilled – until a friend who has an allotment in the next field pointed out that they are Harlequin Ladybirds, Harmonia axyridis, and are a danger to our native ladybird and should be destroyed 😦  I have seen ladybird farm kits for sale and previously thought it was silly to keep pollinating insects captive, but now I see this as the perfect solution to these alien invaders and I am sure my nieces will enjoy looking after them.

My other aliens are, of course, my birds.  Not Whisper the barn owl as she is native to the UK – she actually came to me from Somerset.  However my other birds, while born and bred in the UK for many many generations do originate from other countries.  Peanut the burrowing owl is native to America – found in many states and doing very well over there, almost a pest to some people when they dig up their gardens.

BB King the Eurasian Eagle owl came to me from a back garden near Plymouth.  The species used to be native here until about 400 years ago, and many are still found in the wild across Europe.  Victor the Spotted Eagle owl actually originates from Africa – although he also came to me from Somerset where he was bred.  In Africa these owls are a favourite pet with children due to their quiet and calm nature – Victor all over!

Chaya the Harris hawk also came to me from near the Tamar in Liskeard; but her species originates from South America where they are often seen perching on high cacti as lookout perches while hunting for wild jackrabbits.  I think in this cold weather Chaya would certainly prefer the desert heat – and I may join her!

chaya-in-the-cold

Chaya a cold harris hawk

Roll on Spring!

Cold in the Sun

birds, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, Owls, Owls, photography

We have had some beautiful days this winter, bright sunshine while the frost on the ground crunches underfoot.  Today the skies are grey and it is wet and windy, which means that I am inside and have time to write this blog – a good thing… though I would rather be outside in the fields.

hawk-at-home

Hawk at home

 

Chaya and I have enjoyed some stunning days together, and she is getting used to me taking my phone out of my pocket to photograph her – now she doesn’t think it is her food!

long-shadow-hawk

January shadows

Chaya looks so stunning against the bright blue winter sky, I am in awe when she is flying free.  She is such a free spirit and will soar overhead, suddenly swooping into a far field after something she has seen – I rarely see what she is after.  I wait a couple of minutes and then whistle [I can whistle very loud] and she comes soaring back, often so close I feel her wing brush against my shoulder.

We have had some visitors in the field recently, and Whisper was on her best behaviour for a special birthday 2 hour Owl Experience just before Christmas [available to book anytime, check out my Shop page and give me a shout!]

Whisper flies so beautifully, and so silently, she leaves me speechless.

Whisper loves the twilight, and her plumage looks even more stunning in the low winter sun – especially late afternoon when the sun is setting.

And Peanut, well, he had to come in and join me for a coffee the other day, just for the company of course!  He loves sitting in the sun shining through the kitchen window while I rub his ear.

Then he roused – ruffled his feathers…I took this photo on my phone – love that you can see Peanut’s point of rotation!! Crazy dude, we love you Peanut!!

peanut-whirl

Peanut Whirl

See you in Feb!!

Owls, October Sunshine and Family Fun

art, birds, cute, events, Hoots, nature, Owls, photography, Shed

pine cone owls fun.JPG

Wow – what a beautiful month October turned out to be!  When I first decided to set the dates for two Family Craft Afternoons In the Company of Owls in October half term I must admit to having my fingers crossed behind my back for good weather – and it worked!!

Tuesday Oct 25th got so much interest from local families that I had to say it was full 10 days before the event – with 35 people booked in [adults, children and toddlers] it was certainly going to be a busy afternoon.

The children’s activity was to make owl masks and pine cone owls – and I think the adults enjoyed the crafts as much as the kids did!

Of course there was tea, coffee and cake for all – oh and hot chocolate too.  These yummy treats went down well, especially with the opportunity to toast marshmallows by the carefully attended fire 🙂

Sunday 30th was busy too, with a smaller but just as fun group of families – and the sun shone making it feel like a summer’s afternoon rather than the end of October.

The owls enjoyed meeting everyone, with Whisper and Peanut coming out so everyone could get really close up and personal with them!

Peanut was the star of the show flying in front of everyone, showing off what he can do – although he seemed to be a bit full on the Sunday …I think he is catching bank voles in his aviary again 🙂

spot-peanut-flying

Where is Peanut?

watching-peanut-fly

I am looking forward to starting regular Saturday morning Family Craft sessions very soon – just need to get the yurt built as I am sure the weather will turn more seasonal now it is November.

Meanwhile the owls are busy with private 1:1 bookings in their field, and will also be going out in the community, meeting people and making them smile.  Next community date is November 19th in St Austell town centre with CHICKS charity.

See you there!

 

 

 

Owls in Big Houses

architecture, events, Owls, photography

Well that was a beautifully busy summer!

Since last October my owls have visited Fowey Hall Hotel and Trenython Manor Hotel once a week throughout the school holidays and I was feeling very lucky when both hotels booked me for the entire 6 week summer break this year!

My business was taking off, and with my first event planned for August too I knew there was going to be lots to do for the next few months.   So at the end of June I began a weekly routine of Monday mornings taking an owl to Trenython Manor Hotel and Thursday afternoons visiting  Fowey Hall Hotel .

Whisper started the season off well, she really is growing up and living up to her name – quietly looking beautiful and demure while the families flock around her, mesmerised by her presence.

She also enjoyed the terrace view – tho it was wet that day so we didn’t go out.

whisper-at-trenython-manor-may-2016-2

Barn Owl conservation is the main theme of these sessions, and everyone is astounded to learn that these beautiful owls are found on every continent in the world!

Peanut the burrowing owl and Victor the spotted eagle owl also met the visitors at this old manor house, and on sunny days we could be found on the balcony overlooking the sea and Par beach – not a bad way to start my Mondays this summer at all 🙂

In fact Peanut got so used to the terrace that he took the opportunity for 40 winks!

peanut-sleeping-at-work-trenython-manor-july-2016

The architecture in both of these wonderful old houses is striking, and quite a fitting backdrop for my birds 🙂   Fowey Hall Hotel also had a short visit from Chaya my Harris hawk, here looking like she owned the birdbath!

chaya-at-fowey-hall-hotel-june-2016

With Peanut, Whisper and Victor taking their turns to wow the families and introduce the younger children to the world of owls we really were quite busy all summer long.

So yes, a very busy summer and my first event to do too – But we did it!

Now for my autumn plans…….

In the Company of Owls, Event No.1

events, nature, Owls, photography

Wow, we held our first evening opening to the public last Saturday and it worked really well!

Pnut and me low res

Of course Peanut the burrowing owl stole the show, as he flew cool as an experienced professional in front of the crowd.

The sun shone and there was a wonderfully relaxed mood in the field that afternoon as everyone enjoyed being in the company of the birds.  With tickets nearly a sellout I think I can call my first event a great success.

There was really amazing food cooked on site by Matt of

https://www.facebook.com/Wildfoodkitchencornwall/?ref=page_internal

Nettle falafels, pulled venison burgers and seared pigeon breast – perfect food for the event and I saw lots of people tucking in to it!

We were prepared for all visitors and the Gator proved useful in towing the food van in to place a few days before, moving all the heavy stuff including the new timber for the benches so the site was ready on the day; and finally giving my mum a lift up the field so she could join in the occasion too!

I had been so nervous, excited and apprehensive in the week leading up to the day.  With a long list of things still to do and a big question mark over the weather I was landscaping the ground, clearing brambles, making signs….so many signs…..and keeping the birds clean and ready to meet visitors.  We even had official t-shirts to wear: and one of my next jobs is to order some more as so many people wanted to buy them on the day – check out my shop page for these soon!

Of course I couldn’t have done it all without the massive help from my husband, daughter, son and good friends and they all were brilliant on the day too.

friends in the Owl field

My lovely niece Zinzi  was our ‘official photographer’ for the event and she has taken some wonderful shots – more coming as soon as she gets a chance to sort through them all. Check her work out at Westcountry Wildling here is an amazing shot of BB to leave you with – hope to see you at my next event in a few month’s time!

BB in flight low res

 

Owls, Fairies and a Mermaid too!

art, birds, cute, fairies, Hoots, mermaid, nature, Owls, Owls, photography, Selfies

The two youngest owls, Peanut my Burrowing Owl and Whisper my Barn Owl, were invited to attend the Three Wishes Fairy Fair in the beautiful grounds of Mount Edgecombe House near Torpoint last weekend.  This was the 10th year the Fairy – or Faery to be precise – Fair has run, all thanks to my ‘sister-in-law’ Karen Kay.

Love Karen

Love the Fairy fair with Karen Kay

The sun shone on Saturday afternoon as I arrived with owls and my daughter, Hayley who was helping me by taking charge of Peanut for the afternoon.

Of course the owls got a lot of attention from all the wonderful people there, and everyone was amazed to see the owls so calm even with the crowds wanting to all say hello.  Whisper was so relaxed she even fell asleep on my glove – twice!

Whisper snoozes by the mushrooms

Whisper snoozes by the mushrooms

Whisper relaxing with the fairies

Whisper relaxing among the fairies

I made sure Whisper wore her special colourful ribbons for the day,  and I was amazed to hear how many people – or I should say faery folk – have an owl as their animal spirit!  I learnt a lot about faeries that day!

There was so much to see and people to meet.  However imagine how surprised Hayley and I were when we walked around a corner and found a mermaid!!  Yes, a mermaid!!  She introduced herself as The St Ives Mermaid. I introduced myself as The Bird Lady of Fowey, of course!…it was wonderful to meet her and she was so lovely to talk with.  Of course I have invited her to my In the Company of Owls event in August, I hope she comes – I have a paddling pool she could use!!

St Ives Mermaid meets Bird Lady of Fowey

St Ives Mermaid meets Bird Lady of Fowey

Mermaid and Owls

Owls and a Mermaid

Further down the field we came across this beautiful vintage wagon adorned with amazing artwork and carvings.  I think the owls would have quite happily moved in and stayed there!

Beautiful vintage wagon.JPG

Owls and beautiful vintage wagon

It really was a gorgeous afternoon, walking around the wonderful grounds of Mount Edgecombe House with the owls, sitting on the grass and taking in the sites and generally enjoying chatting with my daughter – all in the company of owls!!

Thank you, Karen, for inviting us.  We would love to come again next year!!

Love Owls and Faeries.JPG

Owls and Karen Faery Kay – thank you!

A Harris Hawk called Chaya

birds, Falconry, Harris Hawk, Hawk, nature, photography

On Pancake day this year I collected my very own Harris Hawk.  After over 30 years of waiting I finally got a Hawk of my own – so very exciting and nerve racking all at the same time!  I love my owls and always will, but a Harris Hawk is a completely different bird all together.  Much more like a working dog in the way a relationship can be forged – becoming partners in nature.  As a child I dreamt of this day.

Chaya Harris Hawk

She arrived angry and disgruntled – her previous aviary had it’s roof blown off by the storm Imogen 2 days before, and with her owners moving soon they did not want to rebuild so put her up for sale.  She had only been with them for a few months and had flown free just a couple of times, hunting but not caught anything yet.

Still a young bird, hatched in 2014 at the end of June, she had not been trained or flown as much as she could have been so it was going to be up to me to bring her ‘in to her own’.  I had briefly worked with her early last summer and I hoped she may remember me as the person who had encouraged her to fly to the glove for food, and on a creance too.  However with her strong feet and attitude I really wasn’t sure if she did, or ever would!

Feb 2016 yellow feet Harris Hawk

She needed a name – Birdy was all she had been called before.  After searching through my usual Google pages of goddess names and the like I chose Chaya – meaning Full of Life in Hebrew ,with similar words in Gaelic meaning hawk like, and in Mexican meaning life giving.  A good strong name for a beautiful, strong female Harris Hawk.

She showed good spirit [or temper!] and was very keen for food so I quickly got her flying in the field on a creance [long 30 metre leash] while we got to know each other.

Chaya on creance.JPG

Chaya loves playing in trees and chasing squirrels, though still hasn’t caught one yet.  She is getting used to the wind too, after the storm she really did seem quite unnerved by the wind, especially strong gusts, but with regular flying she is getting stronger and more confident by the day.  We go out every day possible, wind or rain as long as it is not too rough!

 

Chaya loves company, Harris Hawks are very social creatures, so she is by my side most of the day – watching me tend my parking area, visiting friends or on her bow perch in my garden as I type my blogs.

She will, hopefully, live to the age of about twenty, and I look forward to our adventures together.  She is now flying free every day and has started preening my hair [which needs it after our walks].  I have found a good friend.

Harris Hawk flies over willow

It’s All About BB – my Eurasian Eagle Owl

birds, Hoots, nature, Owls, photography

BB King – a very fine name for a very fine owl.

BB King

For I am BB King

BB came to be mine on the 14th of May last year, the day his namesake died.  He was looking for a new home as his keeper was retiring.  A local bird sanctuary had no room for him – but I did!  He did not have a name other than Owl….not good enough, I thought.  Now it has to be a fine name for such a magnificent creature so I started looking [or Googling to be precise] names of Gods and Kings.  The Eurasian Eagle Owls are one of the largest of all owls and have a wonderful soulful hoot.  Their Latin name is Bubo Bubo.

I struggled to find a name for him, then heard a news report on the radio announcing the passing of BB King – so it had to be.  BB = Bubo Bubo.  King of Soul = best hoot I have heard other than in the Disney movies!  Check out his hooting –

In Geneva earlier this year I spotted this guitar which was the real BB King’s, and it was signed by him!  I need to frame this photo and hang it in my BB’s aviary 🙂

BB King guitar

This Spring BB has certainly settled into his deluxe aviary and he is even trying to make a nest!  He is 5 years old [on April 19th] so is going to be looking for a mate – maybe I should put an ad in the local paper for him!

IMG_3648.JPG

As anyone on the dating scene knows it is important to look your best, and keeping an eye on his weight is part of BB’s beauty regime.

Eagle Owl weigh day

BB loves being outside in the field – enjoying the wind ruffle his feathers while he takes in the sights,

and in his aviary he sometimes looks so funny!

IMG_3590

We love you BB, you rock!!