I spent a fabulous sunny day at Predator Experience with my nephew. He's due to start an Animal Management degree course in the autumn, so they tailored the day to cover aspects of falconry care as well as experience of handling and flying. It was fascinating! They're not a standard-issue falconry centre, they work by appointment only, so you get the undivided attention of the very experienced and knowledgeable falconers. My nephew asked questions ALL DAY and they didn't seem fazed or irritated, in fact they welcomed all our questions, even the ones which must seem really dozy to them. The only drawback was that the weather was so hot and sunny that some of the birds didn't want to fly - but then none of them fly in the rain, and they have such a variety of birds that there are always some which will fly in any dry conditions. I'd recommend them highly for anyone who fancies having a go: it's not cheap, but it really is an astonishing way to spend a day. So here are some pictures of hot birds for your enjoyment!
Me and Johnny the Caracara
Can't remember this one's name or type, but she was an old bird (don't say 'which one?', cheeky!) and very friendly. To either side of us you can see two baths, put out for the harrier hawks on the adjacent perches.
It's not every day you get to run a bath for an arthritic steppe eagle called Gorby.
And this is Ben, the golden eagle, taking a day-old chick from my glove. I needed support from the falconer because the eagle glove alone weighs a pound, then the eagle with his six-foot wingspan adds another eight pounds to that, which is a lot to hold on your outstretched wrist when you're not used to it.
What an amazing day that was! I shall never forget it.