Evan Davidson flies birds of prey in and around the Yorkshire area. He explains how his interest in falconry brought him to us …
I first got involved with Woodlands.co.uk about four years ago when I noticed one of their signs beside woodland they manage near Harrogate. The local area holds good rabbit numbers and the bird I was flying at the time, a female Harris hawk, needed to learn to fly in close tree cover.
I rang the number on the board to see if it might be possible to fly my bird and spoke to Dan Watson, Woodland’s representative in the North of England. We got on well straight away and Dan is now a good friend.
That first year I flew my bird 3 - 5 days a week in the woodland and she became a very accomplished woodland hunter. By the end of January her presence in those trees would send every grey squirrel into hiding. Sadly Jessica died in her third year due to a hunting accident.
I spent many hours through the autumn and winter walking the woods with my birds. Even if quarry was scarce for the bird, I was bound to see something interesting in the wild and unspoilt woodlands. I've stumbled across mushrooms that I thought only existed in children’s storybooks and enjoyed downpours that soaked me to the skin, while my bird tried to outsmart a wily grey squirrel high up in a tree. I have even walked about aimlessly, convinced I would never see my bird again, only to find her sitting on a stump waiting for me.
Access to Woodlands’ properties has, for me, meant I have been able to plan holidays and know that there will be somewhere near where we stay that I can fly the bird in a woodland, without the risk of upsetting game keepers or having to negotiate with local landowners who are suspicious of strangers coming stomping around on their land with a great big bird.
I currently fly an imprinted (hand-reared) male ferruginous hawk (the same one that escaped in March and made it into the papers!) and a parent-reared female red tailed buzzard. The female loves the woodlands, but the male thinks a tree is something he needs to try and get as far away from as possible so my flying time gets divided between old woodlands and big open meadows.
I don’t teach falconry - I have too much to learn myself - but anyone interested in learning more about falconry, or who would like to do a proper falconry experience day where you actually fly a bird are welcome to get in touch with Mr Karl Leadley of Falconry Adventures at http://www.falconry-adventures.com or by e-mail on [email protected] If you would like to get in touch with me I can be reached at [email protected]