Sunday, 16 December 2012

Birds of prey at Eagle Heights

This weekend we went to visit Eagle Heights, where we saw some amazing birds!

DSC_5397 Bald Eagle

We had a look at some of them sat inside first, though they all do get to go out and fly every day. The birds have been rescued from places, hand reared for captive breeding programmes or come from other places where they could not be kept any longer. I'll just list them with their names, and then get to the photos of them flying outdoors...

A Vulture:
DSC_5356 Vulture

A Martial Eagle:
DSC_5359 Martial Eagle

An African Fish Eagle:
DSC_5362 African Fish Eagle

DSC_5363 African Fish Eagle

A Crowned Eagle:
DSC_5364 Crowned Eagle

A Bald Eagle (not because it's bald, but because it's black and white, or 'piebald'):
DSC_5367 Bald Eagle

A Hooded Vulture:
DSC_5369 Hooded Vulture

DSC_5372 Hooded Vulture

A Bateleur Eagle:
DSC_5370 Bateleur Eagle

A pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles (which can be found in the UK):
DSC_5374 White Tailed Sea Eagle

DSC_5375 White Tailed Sea Eagle

OK, so moving on to the outdoors display, where we were introduced to four birds and heard a bit about their history and how they live in the wild and in captivity.

First up was a Bald Eagle:
eagle 1

A large and powerful bird, and this one was completely tame.
DSC_5380 Bald Eagle

But as soon as she was let go, she still wanted to stretch her wings first:
DSC_5382 Bald Eagle

before watching from the distance for a minute:
DSC_5383 Bald Eagle

But it wasn't long before she came swooping back...
DSC_5387 Bald Eagle

...tempted by some food in a pond:
DSC_5390 Bald Eagle

She then showed how tame she was by progressing through the audience!
DSC_5393 Bald Eagle

Here's a short video...

DSC_5395 Bald Eagle

After her came a hybrid falcon, part Peregrine and part something else - apparently these hybrids are often bred for commercial pigeon control, but this one had decided it couldn't be bothered hunting pigeons, so had come to live at Eagle Heights instead:
DSC_5401 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5402 Hybrid Falcon

The handler showed us the falcon's skills by whirling round a rope with some food on the end of it - the falcon shot back and forth at about 60mph to try and catch it, and cut between people in the audience, clipping them with its feathers!
DSC_5403 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5405 Hybrid Falcon

DSC_5408 Hybrid Falcon

Eventually it got its target, and tucked into the food while sat on the handler's glove:
DSC_5412 Hybrid Falcon

After that we had a Barn Owl, which was able to fly around incredibly quietly and slowly - ideal for spotting the small prey they hunt in the wild:
DSC_5413 Barn Owl

DSC_5414 Barn Owl

DSC_5415 Barn Owl

Last of was a Vulture, the same one we'd seen sat indoors earlier:
DSC_5422 Vulture

A very impressive bird when soaring around over us:
DSC_5423 Vulture

DSC_5424 Vulture

Though he did disappear down the hill after that, and waited in a field to be collected, due to laziness. Apparently he used to live in Tenerife, and would repeatedly fly from the top of the mountain down to the bottom and wait to be picked up - one time a bus driver recognised him and gave him a lift back up!

Anyway, as you can see, Eagle Heights is well worth a visit, but make sure you are there to catch one or more of the displays.


No comments: