Tea and Birds of Prey

Tea and birds of prey were on the “menu” at the third birthday party of Long Wittenham’s Good Neighbours club held at the Mill View Garden Centre in Wheatley on 4th May.

More than 20 members of the club – supported by the parish council – had tea in the garden centre and afterwards visited the Birds of Prey aviaries next door.  The owner and falconer Clive Jones talked about the world of raptors and there was a flying demonstration from a peregrine falcon, one of the fastest species.

The female called Sky flew off in the direction of Horspath but soon returned for food.  Mr Jones said the windy conditions were not suitable for flying long distances.  Sky tucked into a dead baby chicken, holding the bird under its sharp talons, plucking the yellow feathers with its sharp, curved beak and eating the flesh.

The falcon weighed 1lb 13ozs and flies at about 50 to 60mph.  She was 23 years old but that equates to 138 years in bird life. The fastest recorded speed of a falcon was 128mph in the USA.

Mr Jones also showed the smallest falcon, a Merlin, and one of the strongest, an American Harris Hawk, the only bird of prey that hunt in packs on land and in the air. Other birds Mr Jones exhibited included a Kestrel and a Barn Owl.

After the demonstration the chairman of Good Neighbours Steve Brown said: “We couldn’t meet in the village due to the election which gave me good opportunity to organise something a bit different. We had a really good turn out for our birthday outing.
We had a lovely cream tea followed by an excellent demonstration of the owls and falcons.  Next month we are back in the village hall and have a speaker from the Pendon Museum.”

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