Castlebank Sessions, Lanark

Interested in signing up for the Falconry for Kids sessions in March?

Here’s a little information on the sorts of things we’ll be doing. Be quick though, there are only a couple of spaces left!

The sessions in Castlebank Park are going to be fun! The course, taking place both indoors and out, will take place in The Classroom in Castlebank Horticultural Centre. They are designed for young people to get an opportunity to get up close with birds of prey in a local, comfortable environment. The course looks to provide many of the training techniques that falconers have learned and used for thousands of years, alongside knowledge and experience of handling birds in a manner that gives a real feel for this ancient sport.

Session breakdown

Week 1: Students will begin by learning the falconers knot: a secret to all falconer’s success, but a real test of dexterity! This will be followed by learning how to approach, hold and walk with a bird on the fist. Lastly, time allowing we’ll make a quill pen from hawk or owl feathers. ^

Week 2: In the second week we will learn how to attach a bird safely to the glove, by adding and removing a swivel from the birds jesses (leather straps attached the ankles) and beginning to have the birds jump to the fist. This will be followed by some pencil drawing – getting up close to draw one of these stunning birds in detail. ^

Week 3: By week 3 students should be more comfortable in approaching and picking up a bird. They will then begin using food to entice it to jump and fly short distances to the fist. Students will get a chance to dissect an owl pellet and see what it has been eating, looking closely at the pellet through a microscope.

Week 4: Consolidating on our learning and experiences the students will have opportunity to pick up, fly and feed one of more of the birds, with ample opportunity to celebrate with parents, for plenty of photographs and maybe even for mum and dad to have a turn of manning a bird too!

^ Students will be provided with their own leash, jesses and swivels to practise with at home

*whilst I aim to teach the strategies as highlighted above, I will also take my lead from the students and try, where possible, the change the sessions to their needs and interests

My background

I am a teacher and falconer, working in mainstream education in Central Scotland. I have over 15 years’ experience of teaching and learning, and am a strong believer in the importance and impact of outdoor learning and learning about the natural world. My approaches are innovative and, recently, involved using falconry as a means to develop self-esteem, confidence and resilience in primary school aged pupils. The results were hugely positive and can be read in my blog at http://mindfulfalconer.blog .

I work with children every day of every week. I am fully disclosure checked to work with children, and fully insured to deliver falconry displays.

I have been involved in teaching mindfulness to both pupils and adults for the best part of a decade. I thoroughly believe that it helps to centre and calm those who engage in it: I intend to do mindfulness with all who attend at the beginning of each session, creating an atmosphere of calm and focus that will be helpful for both the students and the birds.

Why I’m doing this

I LOVE falconry! It is a real passion of mine – I find it exciting, calming, challenging – and I’d like other people to have the chance to be able to share that. Falconry can sometimes be a difficult sport to learn about and get involved in, with many falconers a little defensive of their art and their birds. Falconry has incredible cultural heritage and I want this to continue into the future, and as such I want to provide opportunities that will see falconry flourish in the years to come.

I must highlight that whilst all students will learn a variety of techniques that are central to success in training a hawk, falcon or owl, the course itself is not designed to ready individuals to get their own birds, but as a stepping stone to further training, possibly even identifying a falconry mentor or simply just for fun and enjoyment.

Get in touch at mindfulfalconer@gmail.com with any queries. Thanks.

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