We have our son at home for a holiday and on Thursday we visited the Hawk Conservancy Trust, near Andover. The day started well with some sunshine for the first demonstration, a mixture of grey and white cloud for the second and quite gloomy in the wood for the third and it started raining as that demo came to a close - so it could have been worse. All pictures were taken using Canon 7D and 200mm f2.8 L series lens. Many pictures of tehbiggger birds are not cropped and if tthe wingspan is wider that the picture, they were definitely not cropped(-:). You do get close to these birds, in fact they fly the vultures and owls over the audienc and its not too unusual to get hit by the feather of a Ural Owl or similar, but the photo opportunities are spectacular.
Eurasian Eagle Owl I believe.
that's definitely my bit of chicken.
Huge feathery talons.
If you think the flight i low, look at the glide.
That's it, I'm done(-:).
This one isn't cropped, that's how close they can get.
Barn Owl - I hold my hands up to failing with the exposure on a lot of my Barn Owl shots
Just as the Secretary Bird was leaving, in came the next participant - a Lanner Falcon. What a lucky shot this was(-:), though I had seen the falcon and had started tracking it.
e isn't chasing the bee(-:)
hile waiting for demostration 2 to start, a couple of wild Red Kites appeared. Skies aleready getting greyer.
Indian Fish Eagle - I won't bother withthe failed pictures of it fishing in the lake(-:).
Just as the skies get grey, out comes the grey flier - the Peregrine.
First stoop - much more wing folding than the Lanner and consequently much faster (and harder to catch)
Here's the last stoop, wings well folded but unfortunately he hit the treeline so the pictures not as good as it could have been due to the exposure change - blame the photographer - but it was the fastest of the day.
hen they fly a troop of vultures over the crowd(-:).
As the vultures leave out come the Black Kites plus one Yellow Billed Kite. They are fed by throwing and catapulting the food into the air.
And they finish this demo off with the arrival of a Bald Eagle from two miles away - on this visit there should have been 2 but one went AWOL halfway home(-:).
Third demonstration takes place in a wooded area.
first up a Tawny Owl.
Followed by a Harris Hawk. It was really interesting watching the Harris going around the arena from ground to tree, to tree to ground etc looking for anything that the handler might flush out - you could see why its a favourite bird for hunting with.
Next up the Little Owl
I never kbewit had eyes in the back of its head.
A little too gloomy to get many pictures of the Brahminy Kite as it flew effortlessy between the trees catching what was thrown for it, and fishing from the lake.
Last of the day was the Verreaux's Eagle Owl.
This was the flight which brushed my hair.
Then the rains came and it was time for home. It's a great place to go if you want to see or photograph this type of bird doing what they do best, flying. Added bonuses are that after the firs and third demonstrations adults and children often get to have a Barn or Tawny owl on the fist and after the second there is an opportunity for the over 16s to have a Harris Hawk fly to the fist. There also talks about their vulture conservation and at the end of the day they feed wild birds in the meadow and pull in a lot of the local Heron and Red Kites as well as kestrel and Buzzard.
Apologies if there are too many pictures, but it's a great day out even if you don't want to take photos, weather permitting(-:).
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Flickr photos here.
Fantastic pictures Bob, those birds are fantastic to see, I was fortunate to see a similar demo at RAF/USAF Lakenheath/Mildenhall where they use these birds for scaring off the flocks near to the runways
The Eagle Owl is a magnificent bird when wings are fully spread but the speed of that Lanner is something else, well captured
There could never be too many of photos like that Bob, stunning all of them, but I must admit when I came to the second of the tawny owls there was an exclamation from me, it is so beautiful, wonderful bird, and a cracking shot.
Lot to learn
In reply to bob's_retired_now:
Great shots, good to see the different species' flight styles, and nice to have some wild Red Kites into the bargain :) The last bird is not a Ural Owl, they have no ear-tufts and look just like super-sized grey Tawny Owls. I think it's a Verreaux's Eagle Owl: www.owls.org/.../verreauxs_eagle_owl.htm
My blog: http://mazzaswildside.blogspot.co.uk/
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Bob, never stop taking photographs, they are simply stunning. I love the pics of the wild Red Kites, wish mine had come out like that Lol,once again you've shown us what can be achieved, brilliant.
my photo's here
In reply to turboman:
Cracking pics Bob, and a cracking day out. Tis a place local to us, and well worth a visit as you know. They also do a lot of very good conservation work. Well worth the entry fee.
Take care all, Stich.
My gallery Here Flickr Here
In reply to Stich:
Awesome photos Bob, they are really stunning, thanks for posting them up .
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
Hi Bob, Just catching up with a few posts--thanks for the photos of these great birds of prey! We went about a month ago and I agree, it is a fantastic day out! The day we went there were lots of children there, and there was a lot of giggling and ducking while the vultures and the kites were flying over the audience! Both Bald Eagles made it back to the display ground although the older female took lots longer than the younger male. The commentator predicted the female Bald Eagle would take her time and then would land on the handler's wrist, and if she had enjoyed herself in her leisurely return from 2 miles away, she would tell her handler all about it, and to our delight, she did, and loudly, beak occasionally pointed skyward and yelling, or looking directly at her handler and shouting into his ear! Nice to see (and hear!) a happy Eagle! Strongly suggest anyone who can, to go to the Hawk Conservancy Trust for a great day out (no, we do not have shares in the enterprise!)
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