Crowd swoops on St Andrews Botanics for falconry display

Steve Brazendale, from Inspired Falconry, with a kestrel.
Steve Brazendale, from Inspired Falconry, with a kestrel.

High winds were not able to disrupt the new venture which took place at St Andrews Botanic Garden when Steve Brazendale, from Inspired Falconry of Ceres, brought over some of his falcons.

These great birds gave a fascinating display of hunting techniques, flying in the beautiful setting of the lower lawns of the garden, and the action was accompanied by historical details of falconry and the types of birds which are used for it.

Steve began by demonstrating the training of a sharp-sighted hen harrier to return to the falconers’ wrist, well-clad in a thick leather gauntlet for protection from the bird’s aggressive claws.

A rather more wayward little kestrel, blown about by the wind, decided to take a look at the shelter of the trees surrounding the lawn instead of concentrating on the task in hand, but all ended well with the kestrel safely returned to his box. All the birds carry tiny transmitters on their backs, so any that really get lost can be found a recovered.

The star of the show was undoubtedly the peregrine falcon, diving and swooping at remarkable speed for a spinning lure – from sufficient height these amazing birds can strike their prey at 200mph.

A stately eagle owl of venerable years was the final bird to take to the stage, but decided he was too old at 24 years to take an active part. Nevertheless he attracted a lot of attention.

After the display these and a number of other birds, including a buzzard and a charming little young barn owl clothed in soft feathers of cream and fawn, sat on perches on their best behaviour in order to be admired and photographed by the visitors.