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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

Hawk, Hawk, Redtail 

Owls

Chaya has grown into a confident hunter, and a wonderful companion on long walks, however she can be moody with people as is typical of any female Harris.


So I thought it was time to see if anyone was selling a nice and friendly male Harris hawk in the south west, I was determined to just keep an eye on the market for a few months and take my time.

Then I saw this lovely boy looking for a new home and couldn’t resist!

He is so gentle and well mannered, and tiny compared to Chaya;  and today, only 12 days after I collected him, he happily flew free to my glove in my field!  😃

He is amazing and I have been grinning every day since we bought him home on Easter Monday…….but there was also a Redtail Hawk for sale….so I had to buy her too!

Fortunately my husband Mike got totally besotted with her and built a beautiful aviary next to Chaya’s so we could collect her today 😊

And here she is – happy in the shed and so relaxed she even ate from Mike’s glove.  She is going to settle in beautifully, I am sure.

Two beautifully reared and manned birds make my team complete.  I am really looking forward to working with them this year.

See you soon !

 

 

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 at Dusk

birds, cute, Hoots, nature, Owls

Barn owl Whisper at dusk.JPG

Wow the days are short in winter aren’t they!  Some days it seems to barely get light before the sun goes down again, and with so many outdoor jobs to be done I am often in a rush to get home to feed Whisper, Peanut and Victor before it gets pitch black again.  The starry skies are amazing up here at Castledore, because we have very little light pollution right here, but when it’s dark it is really is…..dark 🙂

Of course the owls don’t mind if it is light or dark when they get fed – they can see far better than I can anytime anyway!

It is very special to be able to be with the owls when it is so dark, especially Whisper my Barn owl.  She really is in her element.

I need to get a night vision camera – don’t like to use the flash …

She still loves the camera and likes to look at every detail as you can see.  This time she was in her aviary on her rope swing; though she really enjoys flying on the lawn at dusk  – and enjoys all the sights and sounds of the nearby woods too, barn owls are notorious for their inquisitiveness 🙂

Peanut my burrowing owl tends to shout a lot at night.  Very short sharp chirrups, usually three at a time.  He has definitely caught bank voles in his aviary before and I wonder if that is when he makes his call.  I wonder what Victor my spotted owl thinks of his noisy neighbour!

eagle-owl-victor-at-dusk

Night night owls 🙂

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!