insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 69 Dec 2017 - Page 91

DAYSOUT BIRDS OF A FEATHER The Falconry Experience at Leeds Castle ANY TRIP TO LEEDS CASTLE IS GOING TO BE A GOOD ONE – IT IS, AFTER ALL, THE ‘LOVELIEST CASTLE IN THE WORLD’, AND WITH ALMOST 900 YEARS OF HISTORY WITHIN ITS MAGNIFICENT WALLS, AS WELL AS 500 ACRES OF PARKLAND, A MAZE AND GROTTO, TWO CHILDREN’S PLAY AREAS, A LAKE, A GOLF COURSE, A RESTAURANT AND PLENTY OF DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES GOING ON THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, EACH TRIP CAN BE UNIQUE – BUT WHEN IT INVOLVES HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH BIRDS OF PREY, IT’S GOING TO BE A VERY GOOD ONE INDEED. BY LISAMARIE LAMB After a warming coffee and an introduction from Mark (head falconer) and Reece (assistant falconer) who were going to be our guides for the day, our group was taken to the falconry centre. Birds in their aviaries, birds out on the weathering ground, birds just about everywhere, and each one different. Each one has its own personality, its own name. From the Indian Rock Owl to the Harris Hawk, from Kookaburras to Kestrels, Mark and Reece were passionate and excited to teach us about each one, giving us background information and telling us their names, ages, where they had originally come from, or whether they had been bred at the castle itself. With each member of the group suitably attired with a leather glove for their left hand, it was time to begin. On the other side of the famous Leeds Castle maze is an area dedicated to the birds of prey displays (if you’ve visited, you’ve probably seen it), and it was there that we were able to get our first taste of falconry. With Mark and Reece ably on hand to assist, it was Owlfie, the African Spotted Eagle Owl, who took centre stage. Taking it in turns, we stood, left arm out, a little nervous about what might happen next. But there was nothing to worry about – Owl ѡݰ̰)ɽ͔ѼѡȰͽɕѽ݅ɑ́ѡ)ɕэٕѱ)Mɥͥ䁱ѱ䰁и!éЁѥ)ɐ$յݽձ٥ȸ+qeԁɽtͅ5ɬUɕ)]ѠѡЁ]Ѡոٕ)5ɬɕѡ݅́ѡѼ)ݽ䁅а=ݱ͕́ɕ䁍)аͼ$'e$)Ё)ݔݕɔѼЁѼ܁)ѡȰЁ݅́ѥȁѼЁѡ)Ёɐȁ́ѼɸЁ݅́Ё)չѥѡ!ɥ́!ݬ)ȁѡ́ɓéЁݔѽ݅ȁ݅)ɽѡ䁅ɕѼѡݽ)ɽ́ѡ͔хѡ٥܁)ѡѱ́ݔݕи%Ё݅́ѡəЁ݅)ѼѡЁѡɽչ́ݡЁͼ)ѥѥɕ͡܁́ՙ%ѡ)Ё́她ѕͽѡ)ѡɽչݕЁȁи%Ё݅́)ɕͥٔͥаЁЁٔ)ѥLեє)ݸѼɕЁ́յ)ѥ̸)䰁ݔɕɹѼѡɑ́ɕ䁅ɕ)ȁȁݼɑ̰聅5ѥ)ѡ-Ʌ̀聥́ Ք])-Ʉ5ѥ́1՝)-ɄQ͔ݼ啐͡ݕ)ѡݥ͔ѡɽ՝͕Ѽ)ѡȁѥͥݥѠ̰ݔх)啐ȁѥݥѠѡ)䁽䁅Ё1́ ѱ́ͽѡ)ѡаɥݥɐѼɝи)׊eɔՍȁչՔЁ) ɥѵ̰ѡ́Ё䁉ѡəЁѡ)1́ ѱ ɑ́Aɕ ɔ)5ѽ(Ȁ)̵ܹѱɅѥ̽)͍ѱլ)͍ѱ)͍ѱլ(