Valkerij Manege

Despite the promises of the weather forecasts earlier this week, it was disappointingly overcast when I left the house earlier today to cycle to Berkel and Rodenrijs for a photography afternoon at the Valkerij Manege. In the end, I was relatively lucky, although the light was far from ideal for photography, the rain held off during the photography sessions, restricting itself to my cycle rides (an hour or so each way) to and from Berkel.

The session started out with an hour and a half or so of portrait photography – approximately 15 birds were spread out across the field awaiting our attention. Finding a good position was a challenge, as it was very hard to avoid getting a washed out sky as background. And of course, there were always other photographers to trip over. I particularly enjoyed the experience of getting up close to a bald eagle, after all my long distance sightings in Canada.

After a fortifying hot chocolate and piece of cake, we ventured out again to photograph the birds in flight – a big challenge! They flew a number of birds for us, including a couple of owls, and a couple bald eagles, which were really a treat to watch. The flight session culminated with a gyrfalcon – practically impossible to photograph, but amazing to watch in flight. As I had expected, I didn’t get any good shots of the birds whilst they were flying, although there were a couple near misses! The experience of an owl’s wingtip brushing against your shoulder has to be felt to be believed. I would certainly love to go back for another attempt.

To round the day off, 6 young owls were brought out for a run around the field. Curious about everything, not at all shy, they came running up to us, and nibbled on our fingers. Unbelievably cute!

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