• Falconer with Children

COUNTRY DIARY

Pete Sibson, Falconer at Stapleford Park

This winter for me has been one to remember! Not just because of the weather conditions but the wildlife that has shown itself around Stapleford Park and the surrounding countryside has been unbelievable.

 

It all started a few months ago when three short-eared owls started showing up every evening at dusk. For me this was one of the rarest sights I have seen around the park, although I have seen a few Marsh Harriers as well. This was great until the news got out and lots of “Twitchers” came along and were sadly in the owls flight path, so the owls moved on.

 

It took until the spring to find them again and I am very pleased to say that they were again nesting nearby, out of the way from prying eyes!

 

The Barn owls seem to be doing very well, considering it has been the hardest winter in a good while for them.

 

The Buzzards just seem to be getting tamer and tamer although I think that is down to some of the harsh weather conditions we have been having and maybe me feeding them as well!

 

One of the new additions to the Stapleford Park bird of prey team is a male Golden Eagle I have named Merlin. What a bird he is turning out to be!

 

Before I came across Merlin I tried contacting Golden Eagle breeders all over Europe, but every time there were no eagles available, this went on for what seemed to be an eternity for me! Then one night my friend Neil phoned to say someone had cancelled their order with a well known breeder in Scotland for a 23 week old male Golden Eagle.

 

I wasted no time in planning my drive to Scotland for the following morning. That night I felt like it was Christmas come early, I just couldn’t sleep through the excitement, planning for my new arrival the following day and thinking of how many years I'd been learning about the Golden Eagles nature and training methods for them.

 

Merlin’s willingness to learn has made the training run smoothly from day one although there have been moments when I have wondered “what have I let myself in for” he needs a lot of my time.

 

After spending the winter hunting season with Merlin I can safely say I’ve never had a more difficult bird to keep!

 

Boredom was my main worry with him because if he got bored then he might start getting aggressive towards me.

 

Showing him Stapleford Park was the cure for this, the first day at Stapleford Park for Merlin, I’ll never forget! His eyes lit up because of the amount of activity around the house and parkland.

 

Carrying Merlin, for around six hours a day, looking for the right kind of flights for him did wonders for my fitness!

 

Hawking in the snow with Merlin at Stapleford has made it one of the best seasons I’ve had in a very long time and to spend most of my time training and hunting with a Golden Eagle has made it a dream come true.