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Falconry at Herstmonceux Castle

Take a Tudor castle that’s as pretty as a picture add in some majestic birds of prey and you’ve got yourself a wonderful falconry experience at Herstmonceux Castle! This small but perfectly formed private collection of raptors are all impeccably trained – thanks to the passion and dedication of the head falconer. It’s time for you to meet the team. Gerard has been fascinated by birds of prey since he was 10 years old and told his slightly concerned neighbours that he was building an aviary for a Golden Eagle in the garden. It might have been a childhood fantasy but his dream has now pretty much come true with Gerard and his partner Gemma raising caring for and training their feathered friends in a truly stunning setting in East Sussex Herstmonceux is brick-built 15th century Tudor castle with a moat. If you were asked to draw a classic English castle we reckon it’d look just like Herstmonceux and we can’t think of a more appropriate background for a spot of falconry. With a day time aviary in the grounds the birds of prey just love their home as you find out when you fly them. Molly maybe small but this Kestrel has a very big personality and will take your breath away as she hovers just over your head. Halo is a very gentle barn owl that everyone adores. Flying slowly and softly towards you that silent wing beat is truly mesmerising. Meanwhile watching Bramble the Long-Eared Owl’s twitching ears is endearingly comical whilst the wonderful relationship between falconer and Savannah the African Spotted Eagle Owl who has been with Gerard from the age of just two weeks is lovely to witness. Things get very impressive in the air with speedy Blade the Peregrine Falcon with an impressive one metre wingspan. Then there’s Makeda the incredibly fast Lanner Falcon who is ‘kite trained’ which means she flies to the garnished lures up to 1500ft in the air above Herstmonceux. And watching how this is done is pretty outstanding but we won’t spoil the surprise for you! Last but not least there are Ash and Cedar the cheeky Harris Hawk brothers that you can walk with (called hawking) around the idyllic woodlands and pastures around the castle as the Hawks follow you flying from tree to tree as you go. We are offering both half and full day falconry sessions at Herstmonceux Castle and for both experiences you’ll learn to fly an Owl and walk with a Hawk for around two hours as well as seeing the falcons in flight. The full day then goes on to include more time with more of the residents of this superb castle setting. And you’ll have time to explore the gardens enjoy a pub lunch or visit the tea rooms.

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