Bird-loving families can swoop down to The Raptor Foundation whenever the mood takes them, with a year’s access to the centre. Spirits will soar upon witnessing some majestic winged beasts, including the national bird of America, the bald eagle, and the white-feathered snowy owl. Each bird of prey will be flown by handlers every day, giving a display of their graceful aerial ability, and will also be on show in their enclosure where display boards will relay relevant natural history. Young chicks can burn off their excitement at the playground and feed the fish in the pond, whilst their parents take a moment to relax and refresh themselves in the tea room.
Groupon Asks Elizabeth Blows, CEO of Woodhurst’s Raptor Foundation, about her love of birds and the centre she’s helped set up.
G: How did you get into falconry?
“It was a hobby of a family member and I’d help when I could. As we started to get enquiries to go to schools and shows, I gave up my job to help out more. I trained under another falconer who taught me a lot, and now I pass my training onto others.”
G: What’s you favourite aspect of it?
“I love watching them fly, whether it be a stubborn owl, a graceful eagle or a fast falcon.”
G:Tell us more about the birds at your centre. Who’s your favourite?
“The Raptor Foundation has only been on this site for 17 years although we have been going for nearly 25 years. Some of the birds that we have here today are what we first started with, including Boris the tawny owl. We have all six native owls as well as some of the native hawks, falcons and eagle. There are some 190 birds to see 46 different varieties. You cannot have a favourite, but if I have had a bad day in the office I love to fly my falcon Axel and my Chilean blue eagle buzzard Guillermo.
G: What’s your favourite aspect of running the centre?
“The most enjoyable part of the job is seeing the faces of visitors light up as the bird lands on their glove. It’s also nice to take a wild bird back to where it was picked up, and release it into the wild.
G: What occupies you day-to-day?
“Apart from paper work, I like to walk round the site to check up on everything. When injured birds come in I help out doing feeding and cleaning in our hospital. I’m also around for photography says, where we show the birds in all their glory, from sitting in trees for camouflage to swooping through the air for that amazing shot.”
The Raptor Foundation has a high flying 950-plus likes on Facebook and has received an overwhelmingly positive response from TripAdvisor users. Reviews praised the wide range of birds to see, impressive flying displays and conscientious staff.
Details verified 05/02/2014.
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