Posted 21 March 2012 by Andrew Gardner
Do you fancy a fabulous day out with birds of prey?. You can do this at several places in Sussex – including the Sussex Falconry Centre in, appropriately named Birdham, and West Sussex Falconry at Compton, near Chichester. There’s also Huxleys, in Horsham, where owners Julian and Steph and their team give a day to remember. We have some handy holiday cottages in this part of the county as well so take a look!
The 'Raptor Experience Day' at Huxleys starts with coffee and owls, a bit Harry Potter-ish. Gloves are lent out with an introduction to the little owls who squeak happily, and a tawny owl who loves having his feathers stroked. Perhaps the highlight of the day is: the hawk walk with Denver the Harris hawk snug in his travelling basket, At the appropriate place usually with the cover of Sussex woodland he displays his skills. It's a bit like walking a dog, except Denver flies and sits in trees. The walk they take you on takes in impressive views over the Sussex Weald and south towards the South Downs at Truleigh Hill.
At regular intervals the handlers put a piece of bait on an intrepid person’s glove and call Denver. He'll swoop impressively, down through the trees sizing up the route for best branch-avoidance – and land, on the hand. It’s a brave person who doesn’t flinch first time!
Also during the day a selection of Huxleys' birds show off their skills to and fro for exercise and entertainment. From little kestrels to the Bateleur eagle and the eagle owl they have a wide variety, many rescued from unsuitable homes. There is a clear rapport between handlers and birds.
So maybe here’s an idea with a bit of a difference to include in your plans during your spring break in Sussex.