|Woodlands School group at the Watch Point|
The visit, funded by our lottery grant, was a great success and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A falconry centre in Nottinghamshire brought a range of their birds of prey for the children to hold and to touch - a brilliant experience for those with little or no sight, in particular.
Both the birds and the children behaved exceptionally well - and thanks also to our great volunteers who helped out (Nikki, Steve, Howie and Pam) and to John Armitage from the cathedral.
Ian Layton wrote:
"The group arrived about two minutes after the falcons had flown off to Jury’s Inn – leaving us with precious little to see or hear. But just after our introductions, the female flew back to the Cathedral tower calling loudly and making plenty of noise! Perfect timing!!
We had set up a couple of scopes through which those youngsters with some sight could see the birds and the female helpfully sat on the lip of the platform for ten minutes whilst everyone had a good look. Whilst this was happening we explained a little about the birds - their life cycle, adaptations, diet etc .
Following this we went across into the Cathedral where the group were introduced to a number of imprinted (raised in captivity) birds of prey. All the young people were carefully encouraged to hold a bird on a gauntlet and – guided by the falconers – were enabled to feel the talons and feathers of an Eagle Owl, a Barn Owl and a Ferruginous Hawk as they held them on their arm. Whilst the group were having the closest experience of wildlife many of them had ever had. The youngsters were also able to touch ‘009’ – the young Derby peregrine killed in 2009 by flying into a building which has since been stuffed.
The session concluded with a bird song recognition quiz – ranging from Cuckoos, through Skylarks to – of course – peregrines.To round off, we made the point that today was really more than just about falcons, hawks and owls – it was to help people learn to care about wildlife and to realise about the pressures many species are experiencing.
As they left, they were talking about placing a barn owl box in their school grounds and about developing more wildlife education in school.
This afternoon I’ve received two emails from school – the first stating that one of the young men had returned saying it was “the best thing he’d ever done” – and the second from the head of the department asking whether the hawks and owls would be available for a wildlife event to be held in August. All in all, a very positive day!"
|Watching a peregrine on the Jurys Inn sign with volunteer Howie Hall on hand|
|Josh just manages to see the peregrine's nest|
|Shannon touches a (very tame) eagle owl|
|Josh with a barn owl on his wrist|
|James about to hold the eagle owl|