Over the years my two boys have delved into many an obsession - from Fireman Sam and tractors when they were younger, to Lego (specifically Ninjago) and the often unloved members of the animal world (crocodiles and sharks!). At the moment the 7yo is obsessed (in the way that only a 7yo boy can be) with raptors - birds of prey.
As my husband was a falconer when he was younger he's the hero at the moment as he has ALL the answers. I'm good for research and providing books though! We do usually try to embrace their interests and further them on in a positive way, so we looked into local falconry centres and found one just half an hour's drive away in Oxfordshire.
Then we found ourselves a free Saturday and headed up to Millets Farm Falconry Centre. Suffice it to say that hopes were very high!The Falconry Centre is based at Millets Farm which also includes a farmyard walk, a playground, carousel, play barn, garden centre and farm shop! We sped past all of the other attractions with just one thing in mind - birds of prey.
They did not disappoint. Greeting us when we walked through the gate were two impressive eagles, including a majestic bald eagle.Around the corner we found the 7yo's absolute favourites - the falcons, including the fastest falcon, the peregrine.
Did you know that they can dive at nearly 300km per hour?Our eldest sped from enclosure to enclosure, so happy to be up close and personal with his beloved birds of prey. Then we had not one, but two flying displays to enjoy. The staff were fantastic, giving us lots of information as they introduced the birds to us. We found out how important vultures are to the environment (they're nature's garbage men) and that falconry started with the saker falcons. We saw both a saker and lanner falcon expertly swooping and diving around our heads, while massive owls came closer to us than we ever expected.
Finally we were treated to a stunning flying display by two of their yellow-billed kites. We see their cousins, the red kites, around us all the time, so it was pretty special to see these birds up close.It was a fantastic day out, and a bargain (only £20 for a family of four). They also had meerkats, racoons and reptiles there. We'll almost certainly be back, but perhaps for a 1 1 session when the 7yo turns 8...that is if he hasn't moved onto a new obsession by then! His final impression? 'Even better than I expected'. Phew!
Written by Deborah Patterson on Tuesday, 13 March 2018.
Posted in Environmental Education and Wildlife