I thought it would be useful to write this blog to show a typical day on our Bird of Prey Courses with SMJ Falconry The workshops take place in Oxenhope in the Pennines, quite close to the Lancashire & Yorkshire border. Chris Johnson is our experience falconer and keeps an astonishing range of raptors including many of the popular British birds. He also has an interest in bird photography and takes great care to keep his birds in immaculate condition.
The surroundings are second to none. Down in the valley bottom is a useful patch of woodland and classic drystone walls – perfect for little owl, tawny owl and long eared owl. A short walk away is essentially a stretch of moorland edge consisting of gritstone rocks interspersed with heather and bilberry. This has proved to a perfect setting for a range of birds including kestrel, merlin and peregrine. The changing seasons provide a variety of backdrops and colour to work with.
For flight photography of the birds we work up at the top, outside Chris’s home base. Barn owl is a favourite for flight shots due to its consistency and reduced speed. We have also begun to work with the red kite which has performed well. Other birds include eagle owl which is ideal for straight line flights.
Where necessary we do use appropriate props to enhance images and on some workshops use natural looking prey. All bird of prey days include lunch and drinks – and tuition wherever you need it. If you feel like giving these a try please visit the Birds of Prey Workshop Page