Posted by: mynaturaldiary | August 30, 2008

In raptures with raptors

Cafe Twitch visited a Bird of Prey Centre found here. For me, that’s like taking children to the sweet shop!

As we know, raptors, being the top of the food chain, are by definition sparse in numbers and catch their prey with stealth and speed.  Consequently, they are always difficult to see in the wild, so the centre at Sion Hall, Kirkby Wiske, provides a great opportunity to see them close up.  Also the centre has many raptors (70 !) from around the world, not just the UK.

First a treat for me; my favourite owl, the Great Grey, who constantly hoots.

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)

Alas, these birds aren’t native to the UK…

Neither is the next one, who is part of the flying display, staged 3 times a day.

Makinder’s Owl (Bubo mackinderi)

And neither (thankfully) is this bird a resident of the UK

White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)

Next, a fast and furious falconry display.  The Lanner Falcon is hooded at first, then it swiftly goes up into the sky, where it wheels and swoops down many times before catching its tidbit.

Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)

Next, a Red Tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Finally in the flying display, a true beauty, a White Tailed Sea Eagle, now re-introduced on the north-west coast of Scotland.  it’s enormous in the sky, and it wheels around.

To get a sense of scale, here it is landing onto its keeper’s glove.

White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

Finally, a few other birds, brought out for holding (with a large leather handlers glove!)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Scops Owl (Otus scops)

An amazing place, well worth a visit!  Those keen on falconry can try a course there…


  1. When thou seest an eagle, thou seest a portion of genius; lift up thy head!

  2. Damn you people are lucky, you have more B.O.P. centres and Bird Parks there than Starbucks’ (well, almost)!
    Last time I was there I drove around, and everywhere I went there was a Park, a zoo, or an RSPB site. In Australia we have abut five and you need to get a flight from one to the next.

    Enjoy it!

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