Yesterday I had the chance to be reunited with the beautiful birds of prey I have flown back in December (and written about in this post). The woodlands located just behind Houghall Farm (County Durham), proved to be a beautiful location to practise the ancient art of falconry. Falconry is in fact presumed to be as old as 2,000 years, with evidence suggesting that the practice developed in ancient Mesopotamia and Western Mongolia, to whom the falcon was a symbolic bird. Centuries later, falconry became a popular activity among English nobles, to whom it was some sort of status symbol.
This is Billy, the grumpy Barn Owl. Since he is not a big fan of wind and has a tendency to wander off and not return for some sixteen hours, we decided to fly him in an enclosed barn, with the irony that comes with flying a barn owl in a barn (of course I had to go there). Billy is perhaps my favourite bird of them all, because he is literally the Honey Badger of birds of prey (as in he doesn’t give a s***, ever).
This beautiful little one is Seth. We decided not to fly him today, as he can be a little bit difficult when he puts his mind to it. I however decided to take a few shots of him, as he truly is a beautiful bird.
This is Lady, a female Harris Hawk. We decided to fly her and Jasper (the male Harris Hawk), as they’re both usually quite receptive and easy to manage. Thankfully, they caught no weasels this time!
Once our birds were all geared up, we ventured into the woods behind the farm, which look stunning at this time of the year, with all those bluebells covering the ground. Little irrelevant fact: did you know that the gloves used for falconry are all left handed? That is quite possibly due to the way falconry was practised in medieval times, when nobles would carry their birds while riding a horse, and therefore using their left hand to hold the bird (and cast it onto preys) and their right hand to hold the reins of the horse.
I couldn’t take any good pictures while we were flying the birds, but I did indeed make a cheesy video of my falconry experience, which you can watch below.