Archive for January, 2014

Michael Davie – falconry and birds of prey displays 2014.

Well a belated Happy New Year to everyone who reads my blog.

Well to news.

2013 ended well apart for the weather which slowed us down a bit. In fact it is one extreme from another now either two foot snow one year or monsoon another – actually it is not something to joke about as it is ruining peoples lives and property. For us it means cancellations or adjusting our display or bringing it inside. Guests in these circumstances just enjoy the opportunity to handle a bird of prey.

I decided to take a month out and continue my research into my favourite wildlife writer the English Author J A Baker(1926-1987) who famously wrote the seminal work the ‘Peregrine’ published in 1967 it also won the Duff Cooper Prize that year.

My father bought me a copy in the early 1970’s and it has been with me ever since. I knew nothing about the author until I looked him up on the internet and then wow! it turned out he was just as mysterious as his book. Well I suggest you read it is so wonderful. The writing is of the finest order.

Essentially it is one mans quest to relentlessly follow a wild peregrine(s) across the Chelmsford area of Essex through one winter recording everything he saw until finally the peregrine accepts his presence as part of the landscape. This is set against the background of rapidly diminishing peregrine numbers in the 1950’s and 60’s due to DDT pesticide usage – ‘before it is too late’ is the message. It informs the way I think and watch wildlife. Of course the Peregrine is like no other bird or animal it is the culmination of everything.

The end of my months study took me to Essex University to look at the J A Baker archive – to view his hand written manuscripts, maps and tools of his trade binoculars and telescope and even a film script of his life – it was fantasdtic and I am still processing the whole experience.

Others are now reading J A Baker. I am so pleased about that.

So back to our falconry and birds of prey displays. Christmas was a busy period for us ending as usual at Thornbury Castle where we had a wonderful group of guests present at our afternoon display –  of course it is a great venue. Every time I am down at Thornbury I think about the loss of ‘Bella’ one of our Lanner falcons. She was such a favourite so versatile, easy to handle and actually irreplaceable like ‘Duke’.

With this in mind we have two new falcons ‘Pippa’ and ‘Brian’. Brian is a 2013 Lanneret and he is currently wintering in an aviary but Pippa a lanner Falcon has been flying all winter and is developing well. Winter flying in strong winds in high condition is great way to improve a falcon.

Looking ahead we are again to return to Blenheim Palace  – our August display will be with a new jousting team which will be interesting.

Like I say every year we will be returning to many events meeting old friends but also along the way some new venues and hopefully new friends – see you there.

I will sign out for now. I include a short but wonderful film from Emma Parsons of a display I gave at Thornbury Castle. I would like to thank her for allowing me to use it.