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General10 January 2023

Falconry & Wildlife January Blog

Firstly, Happy New Year. We hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and a well-deserved break!

It feels like it was ages ago we were Christmas shopping, wrapping presents and decorating our trees, now it’s back to reality, back to work, and of course, back to school! 

January, for most, is a month of dullness and boredom, but for us, it’s actually one of the busiest times of the year. It’s our maintenance month, where we check everything across the Bird of Prey Centre, make repairs and changes, and do lots of painting.

We’re currently in the process of building some new aviaries at the Bird of Prey Centre, this means, not only are we expanding but we’re also making improvements too, these are located behind where Stella lives (for those of you who visit regularly will know where I’m talking about!).

One of the main reasons for the new aviaries is our newest addition – Julio. He’s our beautiful male, Brown Wood Owl who going to pair up with Coco (our original Brown Wood Owl) for breeding. Coco is at a wonderful age for breeding and is in perfect condition too, so it only seemed right to see how she gets on as a mum! These two will join our breeding team of four other pairs which include Merlin & Guinevere, Jack & Jill, Jackson & Mexico and Robin & Lady Marian!

January is also a month for us to start planning demonstrations for the summer.

Our summer season begins in April which doesn’t leave us too long to get the birds practising and get things into place.  We’re going for a more personal approach this year, more of an experience than a display.  We want you to experience a bird flying over the tops of your head or showing you their abilities when it comes to hunting and catching their food (no real live prey used…obviously!), we’d like to bring in more of the intelligence side of things where the birds are concerned too, hopefully with the new set up in the arena, this will help a lot!

If you’ve been to the Bird of Prey Centre recently, you’ll have seen we’ve made more improvements to our flying arena.  This time we’ve changed the perching that is positioned in and amongst the seating area, instead of ‘T’ perches we now have silver birch tree trunks!  Not only are they so much more aesthetically pleasing but they’re also slightly taller which means the birds will drop down lower off of the perch when they take off, hopefully getting closer to your heads!

On the Wildlife front, new fencing has been put into the Wildlife Garden, there will also be new signage too and some more feeding areas for birds (once bird flu regulations allow!) to attract some more species to the garden.

We had a wonderful experience rescuing a bat on Monday, 9th January.  We had a call to say that he was being harassed by the local Jackdaw population, so we raced to help! The bat, which we believe is a Common Pipistrelle, was moved to the safety of our barn where he could relax and go back to hibernating!

We’re not sure he appreciated the effort (not from the look on his face anyway!), but it was lovely to see him up close and very rewarding to know we helped an incredible species that we’re very passionate about!

Sticking with wildlife, this is a great month for the Grey Heron.  We have 5 of these birds on the estate all with their own area, they’re very territorial birds, so it works well, having lots of space and, of course, plenty of fish & frogs for them to eat!  These birds are often crepuscular hunters, meaning they’re active at dusk and dawn, but can be seen stalking fish on the waterways most mornings! Herons are shy birds, so approach quietly and cautiously but don’t get too close, or you’ll spook them.

I’m hoping to finish this month’s blog with a little bit about the Tree Creeper, now these are an underrated and often missed species of bird.  They’re one of the most overlooked species because of their size and colouration, and the ability to ‘disappear’ against a tree trunk! The Tree Creeper will be seen on the side of the tree moving up, eating insects and spiders along the way.  One of the easiest ways to spot them is when you look for other species! Look for long-tailed tits (also a great bird!), and you’ll find you may see Tree Creepers in relatively close proximity, they are a flock following bird which means they will look to see what others are catching and eating and often follow suit!

As always, thank you for reading

If you have any questions please contact us – The Falconry & Wildlife Team

Bird of Prey Centre at Leeds Castle
Bird of Prey Centre at Leeds Castle