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The Joys of Winter

This is always a funny time of year for our Bird Team; moving from the hectic schedule of our high season into the winter timetable, there is so much change that happens all of a sudden.Three displays become two, the light is almost gone by 4:30pm and we fly a completely different team of birds each day. After time off resting in aviaries, and eating a lot, the winter bird team has around a month of training to increase their fitness and to practice display routines, before taking part in demonstrations once again.

Behind the scenes, the aviary reshuffle starts. This involves moving birds around to different aviaries, and putting those birds that have flown through the summer season into aviaries ready for their well-earned winter rest. It is literally musical birds on the park at the moment, with changes every day.

Yet with all this commotion and general change, everyone, including the birds, remains calm. We get to embrace the transition, as it brings us (as trainers) the opportunity to introduce new birds into more intimate displays. Firm favourites like Sweeney Todd (Snowy Owl) and Sirius (Striated Caracara) have, of course, returned to the winter display team as well, giving a really nice mix of slick professionals for you to watch in awe as well as meeting some new characters.

With the naturally smaller winter audiences, we often have days that are so quiet you will have the most personal experience as a visitor. One of the most special moments in the winter timetable for visitors actually happens right at the end of the day at 3:30pm. If you make your way up to Reg’s meadow at this time, a member of our Bird Team will meet you, along with a British bird of prey. This informal and relaxed event gives us the chance to chat with you about whichever bird we bring to meet you on the day, their training and the different personalities. It is also a perfect time for you to ask us any questions you may have and, if the weather conditions are right, we will fly the birds in the meadow while you watch.

Some of the birds you may meet in these sessions are Saxon (Golden Eagle), Scout (Kestrel), Raj or Bolt (Peregrine Falcons), or you might even meet one of our Barn Owls or Long-eared Owls. It will be a nice surprise whomever you meet up in the meadow.

©2018 Hawk Conservancy Trust