Birds of prey are some of the most beautiful and graceful animals in the world, whether they’re hunting for food or flying across the sky. Of all the great raptors, eagles stand as the most impressive and majestic with their speed, intelligence and power. I had the pleasure of seeing eagles up close when I spent a day at Cheshire Falconry in Northwich. Previously, I’d visited the centre for a hawk and falconry adventure for my 21st birthday and vowed that I’d be back to see the eagles one day.
The day began by being introduced to the history of falconry and what to expect from the birds. The first bird on display was a feisty female Harris hawk named Nero. She flew from the stump onto my arm when food was offered and to see such an intelligent bird so close was amazing.
Next, an eagle owl named Lulu was brought out with a lot of chattering and screeching. Lulu proved to be just as beautiful, with pitch black eyes and grey plumage. Then, the group was treated to a live display with a barn owl, spotted African owl and a Lanner falcon in flight. Seeing the falcon was a treat because the trainer demonstrated how they would hunt in the wild by attaching a piece of chicken onto a string and making the bird think of different techniques to catch the prey.
The best part was saved for last, as the eagles were brought out, starting with a Bateleur
Eagle. Her red and black plumage flared in the afternoon sun as she took flight and landed on my arm every time a piece of chicken was offered. Then, came Razor, a teenage golden eagle who was both intimidating and beautiful. The group was asked to put food on a stump and call Razor over to take the food. Precautions needed to be taken as golden eagles can be unpredictable, so the guide set up a line that would catch Razor if he became too aggressive.
Luckily, Razor was wonderful and flew back and forth from the stump without any trouble. The next stage was coaxing him onto the glove and I felt his weight and power as soon as he landed. I’ll never forget staring face to face with such a mighty predator.
Finally, the biggest bird was brought out, a white-tailed sea eagle named Aaron. Seeing him soar from the top of the hill and landing on my arm was a once in a lifetime sight that I’ll always remember. What I found the most interesting was that as part of the experience everyone in the group was training the eagles to become better accustomed to humans.
Seeing the eagles was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and it was made even better by the knowledgeable staff of Cheshire Falconry. I’d highly recommend paying them a visit, whether you’re interested in seeing owls, hawks or eagles. The Eagle Adventure is normally £150 for a 3 hour session, but I paid £100 by making the most of a deal that lasts all of September.