Friday, 12 October 2012

Yarak

Well I haven't got that much bird news to tell you from me.  Although I did try my best yesterday in the rain.  A Marsh Harrier over Seaton Marshes at about 9:30 was certainly my best bird of the morning, although a Redstart in the field below the Farm Gate was nice to see in the mist - I momentarily thought I was on the tip of a migrant filled headland!  I got that feeling later in the afternoon too during a walk about the Borrow Pit on Seaton Marshes; It was stuffed with Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Robins and Chiffchaffs, but sadly nothing better.

I spent an hour or so out again this morning - but it was more of the same really at the Beer Cemetery Fields. At least one Redwing was amongst c20 Song Thrush and about the same number of Blackbirds, there were quite a few Chiffs and Blackcaps too.  Overhead there wasn't as much movement as I was expecting, just a few Siskin, Mipits and alba Wagtails.

Anyway, now to the post title - I touched upon it on my last post. Last Saturday I treated Jess (who absolutely loves and adores Owls of all shapes and sizes!) to a half-day of raptor handling and flying at Yarak Bird of Prey Centre, near Cullompton (link to the website HERE).

It took much less time to get there than we thought, so we ended up killing some time at the fabulous Escot. We didn't spend the £300 that it costs to get (N.B. this may be an exaggeration!) into the main gardens, but thankfully the Red Squirrel walk through enclosure was free!   There are signs in the enclosure saying 'keep quiet the Squirrels are shy', and we spent ages looking high into the canopy and deep into the undergrowth, but to no avail.  Then we walked a little further along the board walk...

 
 
 

And this wasn't the closest we got to them.  Jess took these videos on her phone (turn the sound up, it's funny listening to Jess!)...




Then we went off to Yarak, and before the falconer met us we had time for a little look around the centre...

 
 
 

...before it was time for Jess to get hands on!  First bird out was an American Barn Owl - called Jess amazingly! Here she is getting weighed before going outside...


After Jess held Jess, it was time for every falconer's 'safe bet' - a Harris Hawk...


Followed by Owl number two, Buffy the Eagle Owl.  Sadly due to how Buffy was kept before arriving at Yarak her feet had become deformed so she couldn't land properly - this meant the food had to be placed on top of the wooden poles...

 

But when it was time for Buffy to go back in, she just didn't want to...


Next out was Jess's favourite of the morning, this lovely little White-faced Scops Owl...


And to finish this exciting experience off, what better than a Ferruginous Eagle...


 As you can see from her face - Jess really enjoyed it, as did I.  We both are normally very cautious and sometimes concerned about captive birds, and I have to say I still find looking at birds that I see in the wild, in a cage, being a bit odd.  But the fact is many of these raptors have been rescued from far worse places, and in terrible conditions - their lives now are so much better.  And of course, they're not wild birds in the first place! Thank you Yarak for an enjoyable afternoon.

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