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Eagle Heights Bird of Prey Centre


UPDATED AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE

My son Chris suggested we go here one windy Sunday in March1998. I thought O.K. it`s got to be like a zoo, all the birds in aviaries or tethered. When we arrived, most of the birds were tethered, but there were also reptiles and some fish. I noticed a timetable on the wall, free flying at 1200, reptile hadling at 1.30, owls flying at 2.15, and another free flight at 3.30. It was truly something else, seeing a Bald Eagle flying free across the English countryside. They didn`t just fly one eagle, over the the next couple of hours they flew owls, falcons, hawks, and vultures. The enthusiasm of the staff was truley infectious. After a couple more visits I was hooked, I became a member and now I go there whenever I can.
Over the past year I have learned a lot about the birds, starting with the Harris Hawks and working up and down in size. The centre is also a "hand in station" for the R.S.P.C.A. and take injured and rescued birds and "exotics". The centre`s rescue unit is wholly funded by visitor donations which means the more vistors they get the more rescued creatures they can handle. The centre has a release program for some of the endangered native birds including Barn Owls and Buzzards, and a breeding programe for some of the other species. They also arrange visits to schools, taking some birds to fly either in the hall or outside. If you are in the area of Eynsford in Kent, or are interested in seeing Tiny,the Andean Condor (the world`s largest bird of prey) walking past your feet,just click on the link.


LATEST UPDATE

Now on display is a GREAT GREY OWL, only the 3rd or 4th in the country that originates from Canada, the Bald Eagle that hatched in May 2000 is still with us. The Martial Eagle is doing well in training as is our latest arrival a female African Fish Eagle. The Barn owl release has gone well so far. During the winter months the usual building work will be taking place as we are only open to the public at weekends, so if you do visit please excuse the mess.

EAGLE HEIGHTS
HUNTING WITH BIRDS.

Hunting with birds of prey has been a sport and sometimes a way of life for thousands of years. Flying a bird of prey at quarry (it`s natural food source) is not like hunting with a gun. There are many times the prey will actually escape and if not there is no chance of just wounding it. I have only been flying birds of prey myself since August 1998 and with assistance from the friends I have made will continue to do so for many years to come. My idea of a good day is plenty of good flights for the bird, with one or two kills. This gives the bird plenty of exercise and builds its confidence to take prey. I don`t get much exercise myself during the week as my job is mainly desk-bound, so a couple of long country walks over the weekend keeps me fit as well. I have now got a bird of my own. A female Harris Hawk called China. After 2 weeks of manning at home and walking her around Eagle Heights she is as steady as a rock. She flew free for the first time mid September 1999 at 2lb 3oz. On the 2nd October I took her to Scotland for her first taste of hunting. At 2lb 1.5oz she was keen and her first rabbit came on the 4th.
The advice I received while training China was invaluable and I would advise anyone wanting to take up the sport to either join a good club or contact an established falconeror austringer before even buying a bird. Normally China travels in a box, but I am going to try her on a bow perch on the back seat when she finnishes her moult.



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Sid Burch

sidburch@mailcity.com

United Kingdom

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