Willows Bird of Prey Centre
Raptors, you can't help but love them. Graceful in flight, deadly when hunting, gorgeous when sitting on your hand and sometimes, stubborn as hell. We had booked ourselves a Bird of Prey Experience (with cream tea) at the Willows Bird of Prey Centre, near Knockholt, which turned out to be a smashing experience with our avian friends.
Our handler, Jill, an ex-pat from the Big Apple, was well informed, interesting and with a great sense of humour. We were introduced to several birds, learning as we went, then our heads were skimmed at a relaxed flying exhibition by three different raptors.
Then, it was our turn. Left hands were gloved and holding torn pieces of day old chick, our three new buddies were invited to fly to our outstretched paws. First, a sweet Barn Owl, secondly, a cuddly Eurasian Eagle Owl (our favourite) and thirdly, a Harris Hawk, which certainly looked like a killing, speed machine.
The birds will come to you. They are totally driven by food and are not fussy who's holding it. When they do, take a good long look into those saucer shaped eyes; it's a primeval feeling and you can't help but smile.
The two hours flew by (sorry) as we learnt fact after fact; yellow eyes are for daylight hunters, orange are for dawn and dusk, they have small brains and captive bred birds cannot survive in the wild. Plus, of course, much, much, more.
I thoroughly recommend this experience. It was great from the start and finished off with a simple but tasty cream tea. So go on, treat yourself!