We bought each other a day hunting with falcons as a Christmas present because we had a great experience with the centre a year earlier learning to handle and fly hawks, falcons and owls. We went on a beautiful crisp January day where we met 2 other clients together with Roger, who owns the centre with his wife June. We also met Martin, a close friend of Roger who had brought along 2 of his own falcons. Also there were Gareth and Lee together with their dogs Lola and Max (German Wirehair Pointers) and Cole (Cocker Spaniel). Their role was to find and flush out the partridges - if they could be found.
To our great delight all 4 falcons were Peregrines. These are my wife's favourite bird due mostly to the fact that they are the fastest (some say 250 mph in the dive).
We walked across the open fields of neighbouring farms surrounded on 4 sides by the beautiful mountains that surround Abergavenny - there was an almost clear blue sky and a blazing sun and so we didn't feel the cold.
It was fascinating to hear from Roger, Martin, Gareth and Lee about how the dogs and falcons work together and throughout our time they were all very friendly and informative.
The dogs flushed out partridge from the hedgerows and the falcons tried their best to catch them. The first 2 birds were unsuccessful (but that's how it is in the wild). On the 3rd occasion Martin flew his favourite bird - Casper. After flying straight into the nearest tree for a five minute pre-flight rest Casper then really took off! Casper circled so high it was difficult to spot him against the blue sky - the dogs flushed out a partridge and Casper dived down to intercept it.
We have only seen Peregrines diving on wildlife television programmes and so it is difficult to really understand just how high they fly and just how fast they come down, and to get a sense of scale. Casper came down so fast that it was difficult to track him - about two thirds of the way down he even seemed to accelerate. The partridge had no chance!
It was without doubt the most magnificent sight we have ever seen of falcons or hawks in action.
During the day we also saw buzzards and red kites, and even a migrating Osprey.
All in all it was a great day out - a real experience. Roger and his friends were just so welcoming and patient. They have real affinity for the dogs, birds and the countryside - it was a pleasure to share it with them for a few hours.
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