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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Rhapsody of Raptors

With ref to my previous post - I did make it to the Hawk Conservancy to learn about golden eagles. Now I'm in love with all the raptors (still can't quite love vultures- sorry you guys) Below are two unsuccessful photos of 14 kites flying free over our heads. I don't like wasting time trying to capture something through two square inches of lens because you miss what's going on outside that area so I only took these two and a not good photo of an owl. As it is there are seven kites probably doing some exciting acrobatics outside this frame. 

 I can't recommend this place enough - and if anyone loves raptors this is where to see them The most thrilling part of the visit are the flying displays. These magnificent birds are let free to fly where they want but because of trust and immaculate training they all come back. I sat there with tears flying down my face as the 14 kites soared and played above our heads - encapsulating such freedom. I checked out the others in the audience to see if anyone else was in such a state but it was mainly a coach load of old ladies without hats who were battling the cold wind and rain that suddenly blew up during the display. The lady next to me did give me a humbug though.

The sun had come out when two American bald eagles flew from one and a half miles away to land in the meadow in front of us. One did a short detour to pick up a rabbit. It was just like the little chaps that the cats bring in and I can't help wondering if Pocket (quarter Bengal) doesn't don a pair of eagle wings at night and go out hunting that way.  Must warn him about not flying too close to the sun - but then I don't suppose that's a problem at night.

The assistant curator Gary was a fantastic source of information and inspiration. I now have a pile of books on falconry, hawks and eagles to read up on and I have just heard of an eagle meet in Abu Dhabi in December. I can feel the call of the wild.
Pixie with her hawk like eyes. Actually it's her ears that are like the eyes of a hawk. She can hear a grain of rice entering her bowl from two rooms away.
Mmmmmm -  I'm not best pleased with Pixie right now. She has just removed a fresh avocado from my shopping bag and eaten it.

The first of the sweet peas! This year I've grown most of them in the polytunnel for an early crop and this small handful really is early. I heard the first cuckoo last week and the swallows have arrived back in the stables. I am so relieved they were not shot down as they flew over Malta. Can you imagine struggling all those miles to fly home and then have a bunch of hunters shoot you for the sport of it as you fly over their island. I've never been to Malta but I'm immediately cancelling all further holidays there.
And the tree peonies are in bloom

Peregrine Falcon

New blood in the killing-ground,
her scullery,
her boneyard.

I touch the raw wire
of vertigo
feet from the edge.

Her house is air. She comes downstairs
on a turn of wind.
This is her table.

She is arrow.
At two miles a minute
the pigeon bursts like a city.

While we turned our backs
she wasted nothing
but a rose-ringed foot

still warm.

Gillian Clarke

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