Saturday, November 8, 2014

International Falconry Meet

Today we went to an International Falconry Meet near Košice and had an amazing time.

We met at Uni at 7am and got a coach with the rest of Falconry club from vet school to a hotel in Dargov about 40 minutes away from Kosice.
There the Falconers lined up with their birds and had an opening ceremony. We didn't understand what was said but the birds looked amazing; Golden Eagles, Harris Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and even a little Kestrel!

From there they separate into groups and go off hunting. We didn't have cars and the bus couldn't take us so we tried our best to speak to people and jump in cars and get a lift with them.

I went off with the Eagles with Sian, Lucy and Niamh while others spent the day with Hawks or Falcons.
We had nine Golden Eagles with us from all over Europe - Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary - so it was really interesting seeing the falconers speak to one another, mostly in German and English as their common languages, though they all knew a few words of each language.

We spread out along the boundary of one field in a straight line 10 metres apart from each other with two people between every Eagle, the idea being that we flush the field as we walk across it in a line and the eagle closest to the prey or quarry is flown.

Being November everyone layered up expecting winter weather but we had glorious sunshine all day and walking all day everyone was roasting! We stopped at midday to give the birds and everyone else a rest. The birds all sat there good as gold, some of them not even hooded without stressing or trying to bait off the glove so they really were a credit to their trainers.

After lunch we carried on as as the weather cooled down a bit the birds were flying better and had a lot more successful catches.
We saw pheasants, hare and deer but only caught hares - Eagles don't go after pheasants and the deer were a bit too far away for the falconer to run after them and get there should there be a problem.

After the hunt we returned to the hotel for drinks and to talk to people then everyone sat down for a four course meal of soup, chicken with roasties, goulash (which everyone went mad for) and then cake!

I'm so glad we went and it was an incredible experience.

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