The summer season of events for Blandford Camera club this year were concluded on Sunday 28th July with a trip to Mere Down Falconry centre near Mere on the Dorset Wilts border. There were a good number of members who turned up on the day. The farm was situated in a lovely valley with hills behind and a ripe golden field of Barley below. The weather proved to be kind to us as the forecast was for heavy showers but we had a mix of sunshine and clouds, although a little breezy at times with good light for our photography.

The centre only caters for private groups and we had the experience to ourselves so the team catered for us as photographers.

Through the session we were treated to each bird at a time, they were weighed to check they were at their flying weight, apparently if they were full they would have no incentive to fly. We were told about the birds, all had been rescued in some form or other and wouldn’t have been able to return to the wild.

Owl in flight
Owl in flight

We soon realised that many of the birds were prima donnas and had their own quirks. One didn’t like the wind which wasn’t surprising as they were so light they would have got blown away, also some could sense rain in the air and had to be encouraged to fly, the Peregrine had to check out if there were any pigeons around the farm before giving it’s display. While the Great grey owl looked as though he/she had a bouffant hair-do for the occasion and looked upon us with disdain as lesser mortals! The Harris Hawks were the stars and gave a faultless display.

Walking owl
Walking owl!

The owl above preferred walking to flying! He looks a bit windswept because he is moulting!

We were treated to a cup of tea/coffee and homemade cake part way through, which was welcome after a morning’s photography and then we had a chance to see, enjoy and take more images of the birds.

With encouragement the birds performed and did their best and we could ask to position them to the best spots for our images, Allan the handler was very patient with us and the birds. We all spent a long session taking images. There were lots of mumblings about ‘I got only a wing!’ and ‘it isn’t in focus!’ but we all tried hard and I’m sure there will be plenty turning up in future club competitions.

Click on any picture to bring up a larger size or start a slideshow.

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