Growing up I loved the film Kes and the book A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines on which it’s based. It tells the story of Billy Casper, a young working class boy who’s always in trouble at home and school, but who finds an escape when he finds and trains a kestrel. My dad took us to the cinema to see the film and then later at school it was a set text for our O Level and it’s a book I often revisit. I blame it for my fascination with Birds of Prey.
When Billy was training Kes he stole a book from the library to learn about falconry and made his own jesses and lures. Things have definitely moved on since then.
Falconry has gone high tech! At the National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley the birds now have GPS tracking and can be followed in flight on an iPad!
On this picture the radio tracking aerial can clearly be seen behind this stunning Eagle Owl, and below the GPS unit can be seen attached to the handlers belt. The iPad is used to tack a bird that has left the line of sight and allows the handler to not only know where the bird is but its height and distance away.
I don’t think it would have changed the outcome of Kes but this equipment must really help with those moments of panic when your bird disappears from sight.
If you haven’t read the book I would highly recommend it and the film is a much watch. The title of the book comes from Medieval England where the only bird a peasant was allowed to keep was a Kestrel.
I’ve noticed buzzards more and more in my local area recently soaring above the valley. I’d seen one yesterday just before bumbling into the fox, so I returned to the same area hoping to see both again.
It wasn’t long before I heard then saw the first buzzard as it swooped low over the trees being harassed by some crows. It seems every bird of prey attracts a mobbing wherever they are, with the feisty crow being the main antagonist.
There’s usually a small group who will fly up and noisily chase away the buzzard but in this case one lone aggressor chased him away.
Interestingly there were three buzzards soaring on the thermals today and it may be that this one was this years young. They feed mainly on small mammals with voles being their prefered prey but will take carrion if available.
As these birds now seem to be residents I will hopefully be able to get better shots.
Beautiful moment this afternoon when I almost bumped into this stunning fox. I had wandered off down a new path and had just got to the top when this fox casually wandered through the grass toward me.
As I started taking pictures the shutter noise caught her attention and her ears pricked up ( I say “her” because she was just so beautiful) .
She didn’t seem scared by my presence and she slowly walked off about her business before stopping to just check me out one last time. She looked healthy and well fed and she certainly made my day. The fox has always been a favourite of mine and top of my list to photograph.
This is a Bateleur Eagle endemic to Africa and some parts of Arabia. This one is a resident at the Birds of Prey Centre in North Yorkshire and was busy tucking into a dead chick for its breakfast. It refused to pose for its picture but did allow me to get this upside down, back to front shot.