26 September 2013

Flying high at Wingspan

I find it hard to believe that it is nearly the end of September already. Does not compute!

I've been meaning to blog about my birthday present for a couple of weeks now. Hubby and daughter organised the coolest birthday present ever....

Not too long ago, we discovered Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust. Wingspan is a charitable trust dedicated to researching and saving our native falcon, Karearea, just up the road from where we live. It's a rehab centre for injured birds, a bird flight-training school for chicks hatched on the premises, and a public education centre to help people understand and appreciate these amazing little predators. They run flying displays daily, and we've been several times to watch the falcons - they are trained using falconry techniques to fly and hunt, and the flying display has the birds flying free.

There are other birds there too in addition to the falcons - five Australasian harrier hawks, a morepork called Frodo (called that because he is small and has furry feet!), and an Australian barn owl with only one wing (the other got broken and wouldn't heal so had to be amputated).

We were so impressed by the work they are doing that the whole family joined as members - the good bit for us is that we can go to the flying displays any time we want to for no additional cost. Hubby is using Wingspan for photography and is hoping that his next portfolio will be from there.

Ozzie coming in to strike (karearea, NZ falcon): Photo (c) Omega Photography/Wingspan
The photo of Ozzie above is one of the ones hubby took recently out there. He's donated this one to Wingspan for fundraising purposes, so it's for sale poster-sized from them.

Anyway, back to my birthday. What daughter and hubby organised for us was a raptor experience. What this meant was that as well as going to the usual flying display (which always thrills me - falcons fly faster than 120kph in a full stoop and they are unbelievably agile in the air), we got to go "backstage" into the breeding area, see the incubators etc, and eventually into the enclosure with Frodo the morepork. I had a morepork on my fist.... so completely cute!

It was an awesome birthday present and I completely loved it. I love these little birds: they are small but so insanely brave, and so amazing in flight. They are like the Spitfires of the bird world. Best birthday ever!

I've never been much of a conservationist before but I would hate to see these birds become extinct. There are only about 10,000 left in the wild (less than kiwi!) and most of the birds that Wingspan rehabilitates for release back into the wild have been deliberately shot. They are quite astonishing to watch in flight and they are recklessly, insanely brave going after prey - apparently one of the females who lives permanently at Wingspan has tried to catch a turkey (which is about 5 times her size!).

1 comment:

Greenpatches said...

Good to see you back, Pachyderm. What a marvellous birthday gift!