That’s a sentence I never thought I would say: last Sunday I spent the day falconry-ing. As an early birthday treat my sister took me to the English School of Falconry, also knows as a farm in Bedford where they specialise in introducing humans to really big birds (and small birds too) and vice versa. I had been told to keep the day free months ago but had no idea where we were going or what was going to happen until we actually go there. Then the excitement started because while I had been speculating wildly (Bedford Zoo anyone?) I hadn’t even been able to guess falconry as the birthday surprise!
I actually posted the above picture on Instagram and someone commented on how excited I looked. This, in case anyone else is wondering like he was, is because there is an eagle on my arm. (Also my hair looks great – YES)
After an introduction we were led outside and introduced to Lady Lincoln, the massive eagle sitting on my arm. She was heavy and so, so loud – now once in the half and hour she was being passed around from person to person did she shut up. The passing around may have had something to do with it. Tradition dictates that left arms are always the arms the birds perch on and as you can see from the photo above my right hand (and more specifically my right fingers) is far, far away from Lady Lincoln.
We then moved onto smaller birds – a barn owl which pooped a lot, and a kestral. They were all beautiful. So, so beautiful.
Then it was time for the show. People who actually know what they are doing actually did the things that they know how to do with various birds of prey. There were birds flying overhead, running between our legs, and just generally showing off.
Once that part of the day was over it was our turn to have a chance at flying hawks and owls.
And I know I look terrified in that photo but I really wasn’t. I had had such an epic day and this was just the tip of the ice berg. There were owls and hawks landing on my arm. Owls and hawks. Owls. And. Hawks. It really reminded me of H is for Hawk and for a little while I channelled my inner Helen.
It was such a great day and I had such a brilliant time. This is the kind of stuff that I didn’t even know what something you could do yet here I am, almost a week later having done it!