A Day at the Hawk Conservancy Review (part 2)
With one of my best friends in tow, we headed down the A303 in search of Raptors. The large car park at the Hawk Conservancy Trust was practically empty and we headed into the reception area, which also doubles as the gift shop, to exchange our coins for wristbands.
We went in search of caffeine in the spacious and bright ‘Feathers’ restaurant, happily we were given some in exchange for more coins, and with the help of our map and take away tea, we began to wander.
The feeling of peace was the first thing that struck me as we started exploring the many different areas of the trust. You feel as if you are entering into a magical woodland; Carefully crafted paths lead you through beautiful ancient trees, onto enchanted discoveries as you meet one beautiful bird after another.
We chatted with an eagle owl as it ate his breakfast, then carried on down Owl alley stopping at Vulture restaurant, we walked under the beautiful rose filled canopy onto Kite way and Eagle walk and arrived at the hides for a spot of wild Heron and Kite feeding.
The hides look out over the stunning Hampshire countryside and as the food is placed out in Reg’s Wildflower Meadow and the bell is rung, the Heron’s swoop down to tuck in. On the way out we got to meet one of the Falconers, Lou – who introduced us to a beautiful Hawk. Lou would later supervise the hands on flying of a Harris hawk that all the adult visitors can take part in, she graciously humoured my philosophical questions about whether birds can show affection or not. Lou also gave a great talk as she fed the Vultures who were very entertaining.
There are three flying displays throughout the day in three different arenas, beginning with the lower flying grounds, where Owls, Eagles, Falcons, Secretary birds and ducks all entertain for half an hour. The first two displays were narrated by Jane, who is very knowledgeable and passionate about the birds and does a great job of entertaining and educating.
In the afternoon the Valley of the Eagles is where you get the chance to get up close and personal with the vultures. During my second visit I realised that choosing your seat for this display becomes a matter of calculating wind direction and factoring in whether you fancy viewing this display from the floor, as you do really need to duck when these remarkable birds get going. I’ve discovered you’re relatively safe at the middle of the back row, but if you want to live dangerously then sit at the sides!
Watching the Eagles fly in from a mile and a half away as the music accompanies them, was utterly spell binding. The whole display was filled with amazing moments.
Lastly the Owls and Hawks display in the woodland arena was just wonderful. The arena is beautiful, with a large pond and the whole display was entertainingly led by Mike. It was amazing to see these birds manoeuvre amongst the woodland and really great to see the team of birds and falconers working so well together.
Not only were there three amazing displays, but also I got to hold two owls and fly a Harris Hawk and spend the day in a beautiful place with my best friend, it really doesn’t get better than that.
Whether you are planning a trip on your own, with your best friend or with your whole family, The Hawk Conservancy is a great day out. Very reasonably priced and a day full of amazing experiences. Every visit is different, with different birds being flown each display and many events throughout the year. All in all a highly recommend day out.
The Hawk Conservancy and their birds have managed to help me find something I lost and I’ll be forever grateful for that.
Posted on September 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Birds of Prey, Days out in Hampshire, Days out in Wiltshire, family days out in wiltshire, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Longleat, love, passion, Raptors, review. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.