, , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s nothing like a nice day out with the family. Round up the kids – and their kids – bundle them all in to the car and head off to the countryside for a picnic. So we did.

But that’s only half the story. We spent the day at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, near Andover, UK. It’s a great place to visit, there is a full day’s entertainment and it’s all for a good cause.

Did you know that for every elephant or rhino that is killed for its tusks or horn, up to 50 vultures, or more, can die at the same site? Because the circling vultures give away the location of the carnage to the rangers, the poachers spread poison over the carcase to kill the vultures. This, together with those killed by the poisons in the preventative medication given to roaming cattle, has reduced them to a critically endangered species.

Not only are there vultures at the Trust, but hawks, owls, and many other birds all presented in different flying displays throughout the day. In each arena birds are flown and swoop low – head height – into the audience. You duck or wear a bird shaped bruise.

That was the American bald eagle …

Of course, my favourite is being buzzed by the massed vulture display – oh, and watching the American bald eagle fly in from a village on the far side of the valley, but the most impressive is the fish eagle.

The fish eagle glides down from the beech trees and plucks a ‘fish’ from the tiny pool just a few feet from where we are sat. I waited, camera poised, focussed on the pool … click!

Got ‘im this time – sorry about the quality. Don’t blame the camera.

Luckily, for us less-than-professional photographers, he does a second run. I hope you like my action shots – I did get the bird – just!