Falconry

I attended a falconry display at the week end as part of the Templecombe Medieval Pageant.  The display was hosted by Tony Bryant of Raptorcare Falconry from South Gloucestershire. I would like to share some of the photos I took with information about the birds:
European Long Eared Owl
At rest, the long ear tufts and distinctly orange eyes make the Long-eared Owl easy to recognise. However, in flight they can be confusingly similar to Short-eared Owls. The most obvious features to look for are the uniformly dark under-parts, the lack of a white trailing edge to the wing and less distinct barring everywhere, especially under the wing-tip.
Breeds in coniferous woodland or occasionally hawthorn scrub, usually close to open country such as moorland. Winters near rough grassland and marshes.
In early spring the different calls of male and female are easily distinguished and, if you’re lucky, you may also see the male wing-clapping as he performs his display flight. This involves slow steady wingbeats with soft single wingclaps below the body every few flaps. Hence you hear several well-spaced claps, unlike the flurry of claps given by a Short-eared. The ‘ears’ are nothing to do with hearing but are tufts of feathers. They show up in silhouette, even in poor light, and therefore help the birds to communicate at night. The real ‘ears’ are hidden under the feathers behind the owl’s facial disc.
Largely sedentary although birds in northern latitudes are migratory, wintering in the countries around the North Sea.

Harris Hawk
The Harris Hawk is also known as the Bay Winged Hawk. This is due to the beige or brownish colour on their wings.
The Harris Hawk is the most popular bird used in falconry, because they are sociable you can fly more than one at the same time in most environments. Training is most important before you own any bird of prey.
Harris Hawks spend much of their time landing and sitting on cactus plants looking for food. They must have tough skin because much of their time is spent pulling out hundreds of cactus needles that get stuck in their feet.
The Harris Hawk is named after Mr. Edward Harris. Mr. Harris was a companion of one of Americas most famous artists and naturalists- John James Audubon. The paintings of Mr. Audubon are famous all over the world.
Many Harris Hawks are now kept in captivity in Britain and unfortunately many are lost never to be seen again . However many do survive and there have even been reports that some have bred. Could we one day see the “wolf of the sky” patrolling our own countryside?

Barn Owl
With heart shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white under parts the barn owl is a distinctive and much loved countryside bird. Widely distributed across the UK, and indeed the world, the bird has suffered declines over the past fifty years as a result of the degradation of once prey-rich habitats in the face of intensive agricultural practices. This decline, fortunately, has halted in many areas and the population may now be increasing.  They feed mainly on Mice, voles and shrews.

Lanner Falcon
The lanner falcon is a handsome and powerful bird of prey, with grey-brown to slaty upperparts, a creamy-white throat and underparts, sometimes with dark spots or striping, and a characteristic reddish-brown crown on the head, which helps to distinguish it from the smaller peregrine falcon. The white cheeks contrast with dark eye stripes and a long, dark ‘moustache’ below the eye, and the eye ring is bright yellow. The body is quite slender, with a long, barred tail and long, relatively blunt-ended wings that are dark at the tips  The female lanner falcon is usually larger, darker and more patterned than the male, while juveniles are much browner in colour, with heavily streaked underparts, pale blue-grey facial skin, and a duller crown . The lanner falcon shows considerable regional variation in size, colouration and degree of spotting and barring, with five currently recognised. The species is usually fairly silent, but at its breeding sites may give a variety of screams and cackling calls.

More bird images here

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