Its much bigger than you think!!! One of the main comments we get is that people never realised that the Centre was so large and comprehensive! But, don't worry, we may be the biggest and the best, but we still remain a wonderful cheerful and friendly place - The International Centre for Birds of Prey is the oldest dedicated bird of prey centre in the world and one of the friendliest. The atmosphere here is second to none and visitors always say they feel like a part of the family, which is really nice to hear. As you arrive you will see a beautiful garden area with climbing plants and archways, three small aviaries usually with tiny owls, and probably a Labrador or three will be your next welcome and no the little one is not a puppy, he is our Patterdale Terrier - Sedge just thinks he is a Labrador! The Hawk Walk is where you will wander through on your way to the flying ground, loos, cafe flying grounds, gardens aviaries and the rest of the Centre. This is where most of the trained birds are kept. The individual birds and the species will change through the year as some birds get a rest period and others start work again. There could be a huge Steller’s Sea Eagle or a tiny American Kestrel, a handsome Peregrine or a wild looking Goshawk. There are usually between 20 and 38 birds living here, and all are flown every day.
Through the gates at the end of the Hawk Walk you can either turn sharp left and go straight down to the flying ground (passing the loos on your left), or keep straight on and look round all the aviaries, and aim for the cafe. If you enjoy gardens the aviaries are surrounded by plants and shrubs, lawns and bulbs. If it is near flying time bear left and aim for the flying field, through the archway of Whitebeam trees. If you are desperate for a good cup of coffee keep going past the tiny owls. It depends on your choice and the flying times. Each demonstration in the field is completely different with differing birds on every one. Just watch behind you as you walk down through the archway of trees to the benches, the next bird might be coming behind you fast and low under the trees!!
If you are interested in photography and a challenge, the flying demonstrations will give you plenty of opportunities, with some of the birds flying just over the top of your head, and on occasion it seems like they are flying down your lens! Some raptors are slow and easy, some are fast and almost impossible. All are wonderful to watch and we are delighted if you get good photos, in fact – keep an eye out for the annual photography competition; its worth entering - you might win!
While you are in the field, after the demonstration, you can wander round, two ponds that have been recently cleared and extended are looking wonderful and have frogs, fish and newts living there. In the spring the field is full of wild daffodils, which are very pretty. The wood to the side has paths through it, say hello to the dogs and birds who have lived and died here, we do not ever forget them. The lower part of the wood is their place, the upper wood has a pair of woodpeckers nesting in the spring, watch out for them. The field is also a good place for picnics in the warmer weather.
Round the aviaries you will see over 70 species of different birds of prey and owls, the Owl Courtyard houses 15 different pairs of owls, some you will know, others not. The Eagle Barn has eagles and large vultures, and the other enclosure barns house a variety of species from falcons to hawks, kites and buzzards to name but a few. While you are looking round if you enjoy gardens you should enjoy the surroundings, which are lovely in the spring summer and autumn, and we now have a full time gardener, Rob, who if you see him working during the week will be delighted to answer any questions. We are also pleased to be offered plants if you have any to spare!
The food in the café is great, home-made cakes, the tiffin is to die for, the soup is all made there in the café with fresh vegetables, and the panini machine makes for great and different paninis, with all sorts of delicious fillings. The coffee is real and the tea good and strong if you like it that way, the all day breakfast bap fills you up nicely. All the prices are very reasonable.
Back up at the top of the Hawk Walk, just before you reach the exit and shop is our new Hospital, if you glance through the window you will see the new hospital critical care boxes and there may be a bird or two in there as we take in injured wild birds of prey on a regular basis.
On your way out, spend a little time in the shop, you can buy a good memory to take home with you and help the Centre and the birds in the process, or if you really want a very special present, look at our various experience days, which you can give as a voucher.
Neil Forbs from Great Western Exotic Vets
International Centre For Birds of Prey
Present the perfect course for raptor keepers, falconers, zoos keepers, demonstrators, educationalists in raptor understanding and owl keepers.
‘Management of birds of prey for health and longevity’
One Day Course
Presented by Neil A Forbes DipECZM(avian) FRCVS RCVS and European Specialist in Bird Medicine
Two dates available
Sunday February 5th 2017
Saturday April 1st 2017
0900h – 1630h
At: International Centre for Birds of Prey
Newent, Gloucestershire, GL18 1JJ
Cost £85 for one day
Includes lunch, refreshments + comprehensive A4 course notes
Please phone to book at: 01531 820286