In Wicklow: Falconry Experience with Falconry Ireland

So I love birds, they are fascinating and beautiful and the more knowledge I can gain about them, the better. I asked for a falconry experience for christmas. Falconry Ireland is where I decided to go. You can often find some great deals on GrouponPhoebeGill150716294How to get there: The easiest way to get there is putting the coordinates 52.801529,-6.255436 into a sat nav. The building is down an unmarked dirt road, off a number of unnamed roads. So definitely use the coordinates as it will get you there directly. 
PhoebeGill150716302

I went on the falconry experience for one but you are not alone, there is a large group of you. Whats included is a briefing on the hawks and the day, then a hawk walk, a falcon show and finishes with a showcase of the other birds that live on the property. PhoebeGill150716126First up the Hawk Walk. This is where we walked up to a field and went into a patch of trees and saw the hawks fly. We all got a glove and our guide, Jim, put a small amount of meat onto the glove and Vinny the hawk flew to us. I liked Vinny a lot. He also liked my Langy bag! Also it started to lash rain when we were out there which is why Vinny looks wet. PhoebeGill150716059

Next up the Falcon Show, this is where the guide and owner, Darragh Brennan, showcased the beautiful Lanner Falcon. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and we only got to see one dive but you could tell that they are incredible hunters! We then got to hold a lanner falcon and they are just stunning up close.PhoebeGill150716161

Lastly was the showcase of the other birds that live on the land. There are lots of owls, it was great to hear information of where they come from, how they hunt, their species quirks and differences. It was really fascinating.
PhoebeGill150716214Hedwig!! There was also a kite that flew around the property, it’s amazing seeing these birds swoop and catch food in the air. How some of them close their eyes when they eat, how inquisitive some species are. It’s great to get so up close with these birds. PhoebeGill150716275I think they had four species of Owls on the property. Eurasian Eagle Owl, Snowy Owl, Burrowing Owl and Barn Owl. All beautiful creatures. PhoebeGill150716184 You can tell the people who work here love and are dedicated to their birds. They are open on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:15 and are not open to the public because the birds are flown everyday for exercise and natural prey feeding.

Take Note:

  1. The Hawks do not peck or preen but they may land on your head, so maybe bring a hat. It also makes for great photos!
  2. Look like you are interested and Jim will put meat on your glove. People were giving me daggers because I stepped forward, to have Vinny fly to me, many times.
  3. If you get too close to the birds aviaries, they hiss at you, that is their safe space so keep that in mind when you stick a camera through the mesh, they may also bite.
  4. Bring waterproof shoes if it has been raining. The tour is 2 hours and you are walking through a field.
  5. Park your car to the left of the house by the field, don’t park to the right by the wall, a huge tractor came through with hay and couldn’t get pass.

I definitely recommend this experience, you learn a lot, they are incredible birds and it’s wonderful to see them in the open and flying. I really think is a great present to give someone interested in birds of prey. Remember to check out Groupon and get vouchers for you and a friend! Have you had a falconry experience?

Happy Travels!

Advertisements
Advertisements

In Reykjavik: Puffin Watching with Special Tours

Before I left for Iceland I wanted to do a tour of some kind that wasn’t too long but also was a great experience. Now I have written before how I love boats! So I instantly wanted to see what kind of boat tours I could do. There are loads of tour companies that offer similar tours and experiences so it can be tough to choose just one. I decided to go Puffin Watching with Special Tours.  PhoebeGill150814225I have wanted to see puffins for years and years! They are such lovely birds. The boat docks at Reykjavik Old Harbour which is where you will find the Special Tours booth where you check in. The tour takes about an hour and costs 5700kr (€48). Take Note: This tour runs from the 1st of May to the 20th of August.PhoebeGill150814116The species that are on the island are Atlantic Puffin. Puffins come to land for the breeding season. During the summer months Iceland has around 60% of the population of puffins on it’s coasts.  PhoebeGill150814424Puffins are very fast, they beat their wings up to 400 times a minute. Capturing these speedy birds is quite a challenge. Along with the waves getting pictures of these birds is pretty hard to do.   PhoebeGill150814462These waters can get a little choppy so definitely take a look at the weather and the sea the day of your tour. Our trip was really good on the way out but it started to rain and because we were going against the current the waves crash over the boat so you will get soaked.

Tips: 

  1. Bring waterproof clothing. It can get very wet, I wore jeans and they were drenched.
  2. Don’t eat right before you go. It can get choppy, although the boat ride isn’t long its never nice to feel sick on a boat. Also look at the horizon if you are feeling sick.
  3. Bring a long lens. I used an 80-400 mm lens and I feel like I was still too far away. Puffins fly away from the boat very quickly so it can be tricky with a standard lens.

I definitely recommend this tour. It’s amazing watching these birds, learning about their behaviour and habits. So if you have a spare hour and €34 euro I definitely suggest you go puffin watching!

Happy Travels!

In Stellenbosch: Eagle Experience at Spier Winery

Stellenbosch is wine country, it is stunning lands of grape vines for miles around. Wineries are scattered around providing tastings, restaurants, horse riding, animal experiences and shops. I visited Spier winery, not to taste wine, I am not interested in it at all but in order to go to the Eagle Encounters.

To Eat:

There is Eight and Eight to go, they are a restaurant and a deli shop respectively. In the shop they have delicious food and drink, you can arrange a picnic on the grounds of Spier, Eight provide all you need for this lovely outing. The setting is lovely, sitting outside in the shade of the trees. Even the way they design their grounds is really nice. It’s a great place to visit.IMG_9405PhoebeGill141024747

To Do:

The Eagle Encounters is all about rescue, rehabilitation, education and conservation. They take in animals that have been treated badly, abandoned, hurt or given to them. They have an amazing collection of animals they use to teach people about these magnificent creatures. You can opt to hold one of two birds a black eagle R50 or a Wahlberg eagle R25 . I got to hold the beautiful Wahlberg eagle. Birds of pray are stunning animals, they are often killed in my own country because they are a nuisance, this sanctuary wants to protect these magical birds.IMG_9176PhoebeGill141024765

There are many events during the day so the animals can get exercise and stretch their wings. It’s such a shame that these birds are tied up but the fact is people need education about how to look after animals properly.IMG_9175

There is also a wonderful creature named Sonic let out at 11:30am and 15:15pm for people to interact with. So go and see what he is.

I really recommend this winery. It is a beautiful area with really amazing things to experience.

Happy Travels!IMG_9173