A Golden moment

Wow!  What an amazing experience I had on Saturday.

Let me set the scene first. A bunch of us, most of whom had never met each other and some of whom only knew each other by their Twitter names had all descended on Udders farm shop in North Dorset.  Not to buy food (although it does sell some tastebud tantalising items!).  No, we were there for coffee!

Actually, the Coffee was an aside as we all chatted away, waiting for the call to move out.  Soon enough, we were off – and a mile or so later we were all stood around in a field as Sharon from Sharandys Birds of Prey set up the stands for her raptors!

Nibbly, looking cool.

Nibbly the black plumaged Barn Owl was first to get some attention as Cherry had brought him along to give him a taster of meeting an odd few individuals (I know – can’t get much odder than me!)  Nibbly seemed quite at home sat on his perch, though he wasn’t prepared to eat his lunch as we all snapped away..

Mouse for lunch anyone?

Whilst we had been concentrating on Nibbly, Sharon had been getting the other birds out of her van.  I wasn’t really prepared for the sight, as I turned around to see an adult Golden Eagle only a few yards away! 

Golden eagle, Up close and personal.

Don't even think about messing with this guy!

Wow – what an impressive specimen!  It didn’t stop there – it was a photography experience like no other. 4 Owls (if you include Nibbly), 3 hawks and the eagle were there – all ready and willing to pose for the camera.  Brilliant!!

Eagle owl, looking mean as anything!

We were treated to the Eagle Owl and the Tawny Owl posing in amongst the hazel at the bottom of the field, as we all went for the natural look. 

Left a bit, bit more, Perfect! Setting the scene for the owls in the hedge.

 A little bit sureal, trying to make an Eagle Owl look natural in a hazel hedge -when I was just awestruck by even seeing such a bird, never mind the surroundings!

Tawny owl looking, well, Tawny!

Next, it was onto birds in flight.  Never easy, and for a bird as small and nimble as the American Kestrel it proved a real challenge to get a flight photo. 

What a cracking little bird!

Definitely a case of continuous shutter all the way, trying to keep the bird in the centre of the frame, and hoping that the autofocus servo could keep track! 

The pick of the kestrel shots

Fortunately, Sharon also flew the Barn Owl.  Easier to follow, but still a bit of a challenge.

Barn owl in flight, screeching on landing!

At one point, I simply watched rather than take pictures as the bird gracefully glided across the field.

Barn owl flying in from the left, everyone else with cameras in full flow..

Finally, the time had arrived. “Anyone want to handle any of the birds?” said Sharon. “Too right! I’ll have a go with the big man!” I replied.  A matter of minutes later and it was happening, as I stood in a Dorset field, with a 5 year old adult male Golden Eagle perched on my (gloved!)arm. 

One word. Wow!

Simply amazing!

No, I didn't try that! Sharon shows how it's done.

It was only after the session that I found out that Sharon has a venture whereby she takes these fantastic birds out to terminally ill children, for them to be able to experience seeing the birds at close quarters.  She does this free of charge, and dedicates 4 days a month to it.  What a great gesture – Sharon, I take my hat off to you.  If you want to know more about it, go to the Flight of Dreams facebook page.

Just a great image..

It really was a fantastic few hours – thanks to Cherry for organising it, to Sharon and Helen for coming along with the birds and to Jane, Angie, Chris and all the others who shared the experience.

Now, why can’t those Marsh Harriers from my last post be as obliging? 😉

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4 Responses to A Golden moment

  1. Thanks Steve,great blog & really glad you enjoyed the Hawk & Owl trust fundraising event..

  2. Angie Silver says:

    Great Blog – it was a fantastic day – looking forward to 2012 already

  3. Jane says:

    Great write-up Steve and love the photos – it was an unforgettable day. See, I do read your blog!

  4. spudders says:

    Thanks for the comments, always nice to get some feedback. Just got to find some Short Eared owls now. 😉

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