One of our trips out from Summer School this year was an all-day visit to The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover. We went there last year, as a half day visit, but decided that there was definitely enough to fill a day. We were right.
We arrived at about 10.15, giving us time for a toilet visit and a chat by one of the keepers before going to see the Vultures being fed. My group had been well primed, as we had done some work on various birds of prey beforehand, so Dalesun in particular was able to impress with his knowledge of various birds of prey. After giving out their “passports” – where they had to find the stamps to stamp the correct place in the passport – we strolled to watch the Vulture Restaurant.
The keeper was very knowledgable – and very enthusiastic about – his vultures, and we learned about their feeding habits, and how important vultures are in clearing up various infectious diseases, as they are immune to them as they eat the carrion that carry such diseases. With the decline of vultures, due to use of Diclofonac by vets on domesticated/farm animals that the birds feed on, the spread of these diseases is again becoming rife. This article gives more information, and here is a link to a petition to sign, banning the use of this drug in Europe
After the Vultures had their food, we took the kids to The Wings of Africa show. They were quite excited by the opportunity to see birds in flight, and we were not disappointed. The show was excellent, and the presenter was also quite cute. So I was happy too!! They obviously didn’t understand all the commentary, but there was enough going on to capture their interest, including a Secretary Bird kicking a (rubber) snake to death…
a low flying great grey owl,
some meerkats and lots of vultures. The Secretary Bird was a firm favourite.
We then stayed sat in the arena to eat our packed lunches, and afterwards there was a photo opportunity, holding a rather grumpy tawny owl, who, I suspect, wanted to go to sleep! We then wandered around, looking at the birds, collecting our passport stamps and searching for “golden eggs” which were hanging in trees. Each had a letter on which would spell out a word – leading to a prize. Huzzah!
After this we went to The Valley of the Eagles show. Unfortunately the kids were flagging a little by now, and one or two were more interested in having a quick nap, but the teachers all enjoyed it!
There was a definite groundswell amongst the kids that they were itching to spend money in the shop by now, so we split the group into two, one half going to the adventure playground and the other half to the shop. Plenty of money was spent, mostly on fairly good souvenirs. There wasn’t too much tat, but it was a bit expensive. However, for kids who had been sent to summer school with loads-a-money (one 9 year old had been sent with – wait for it!- £1,000 spending money!!!!) we were happier for them to fill the coffers of this worthwhile charity rather than buy some tourist tat in London! After 20 minutes or so, the groups swapped over. I bought a scarf
before the bus took us home again. This was certainly a great day out and I would thoroughly recommend it for anyone, old or young. I’m sure it will stay on the list of excursions for the Kids’ department at Lines.