Today I went back to the Valkerij Manege, this time, not for a photo workshop, but to try my hand at falconry itself. The workshop began with a more detailed introduction into the history and art of falconry, and was very informative. I was surprised to hear that amongst other things, the aristocracy used to catch (and then release) herons as a sport.
Into the field, and we practiced throwing the lure, then back into the cowshed, where we used the railings to learn how to tie a falconer’s knot. Then it was time for the serious stuff – 5 birds were brought out – a red tailed hawk, a buzzard, a milky uhu, an indian eagle owl and a kestrel (if I remember/translated correctly), and we all had a chance to hold them.
Finally, it was flight time. We lined up at both ends of the field, and took it in turns to catch two harrier hawks and two indian eagle owls. The eagle owls were particularly exciting to see, as they were mere bundles of fluff on my last visit. Once we had our turn, we watched the “big stuff” fly – a vulture, two bald eagles and a falcon.
At the end of the day, I decided to make the most of the good weather and cycle back home a slightly longer route, via the Ackerdijkse Plassen. And just to finish off a perfect bird filled day – spotted 3 storks along the way!