With half-term on the horizon, Lightwater Valley invited us up to have a day out and see what has changed since our last visit (back in 2013). I have to say that while we loved our day out there six years ago, we could see room for improvement. The improvements have been made, and more, and we had another fantastic day out. Thank you, Lightwater Valley!
This is a guest post about The Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire by Emma of Bavarian Sojourn. Emma is a Mum of three, a recent repatriate to the UK after a lengthy stint abroad, and she last visited the Hawk Conservancy when she was around 11 years old (and she’s not going to tell you how long ago that was!)…
Emma and her family were guests of the Hawk Conservancy for the day.
The Hawk Conservancy (just off the A303 in Weyhill near Andover) started
life as Weyhill Zoo in 1966. Between 1980-1981 the decision was made to
specialise in birds alone. It’s now home to a large collection of
raptors, with many having been rehabilitated. It has a focus on European
birds in particular, but there are many from further afield too.
Our visit took place in the first week of the Easter holidays before the
spell of beautiful warm weather. The grey drizzly day meant that
The Hawk Conservancy was possibly less busy than it might have been, but the
weather didn’t detract from our visit at all.
My last visit (my parents ran a village pub nearby) was quite a long time
ago now, so to see how it’s expanded in terms of size and of influence in
conservation fields was really wonderful.
We were given children’s activity sheets on arrival, and these helped keep
our three-year-old occupied throughout the day (with a prize at the
end!). He made his first port of call the bird-themed play area, which
gave me plenty of time to take pictures of a few feathered residents.
Throughout the day there demonstrations and talks aplenty. We
learned all about Vultures and why they are so important (whilst they enjoyed
brunch!). The fact that they are disappearing due to poisoning and
other factors is sad, and worrying for the ecosystem, and the Hawk Conservancy
is instrumental in trying to change people’s opinions on these misunderstood
birds (and helping to rescue those that have been poisoned). We
definitely came away with different views on these hilarious characters.
We then went on to watch them in the Wings of Africa Flying Display, where
we might have imagined ourselves in the midst of some African plain if it
hadn’t been for the weather. Talking of water, take care of where you sit
and take heed of the splash zone warnings if you don’t want to get wet!
We didn’t really mind, the owl almost brushing the top of our heads more than
made up for that!
The secretary bird was also a huge hit with all three children, his super
fierce snake “killing” demonstration was actually very sweet (just
don’t tell him that, I would hate to hurt his feelings!)…
Then it was time for the real highlight of our visit – meeting the
Burrowers. Not the tiny people who lived secretly in the doors and walls
of an English house, but a family of tiny Burrowing Owls hailing from North and
South America, and quite possibly the cutest birds I have ever seen.
Whilst you have to pay extra in addition to the entrance costs for this
VIP Encounter, it’s honestly well worth it in our opinion as you get a decent
amount of time with them inside their enclosure, and as there’s a limited
number of people allowed in each session, it’s a truly unique experience.
We were entranced by these tiny owls who were perfectly free to stay in
their tunnels if they felt like it, but instead inspected us as much as we
inspected them as they ran between our feet, hopped on our laps and perched on
our hands. Whilst the three-year-old was too young to meet them
(the minimum age is 6), my 12-year old and 14-year old were utterly captivated
and even managed to get a selfie or two with their new friends. It’s not every
day you get to do something like that!
After a good hearty lunch at Feathers Restaurant (they also do cream teas
here that looked really great!), we headed over to watch the Valley of the
Eagles flying display (which was also watched by a few wild raptors on the
outskirts!). The grand finale was the flight of an American Eagle who had
started his journey a good few miles away in a demonstration on how fast he can
fly. The Three-Year-old was starting to flag at this point, but we
were able to blackmail him with the promise of a tractor ride on the cowslip
covered meadow dedicated to the Hawk Conservancy Founder – Reg Smith. A
great end to the day!
The Hawk Conservancy is open all year round with the exception of Christmas
Day, Boxing Day, and a short period of time at the beginning of each year when
essential maintenance takes place. We thought it to be very
accessible for pushchair/wheelchair users, and family friendly.
It’s really not your average day out, the conservation, rescue, research and rehabilitation work the Hawk Conservancy do both for birds in the UK and across the world is really humbling, and we found it to be a really inspiring family day out. Plus, where else can you get to meet a Burrowing Owl? Highly recommended.
Disclosure – Emma and her family were guests of The Hawk Conservancy for the purposes of this review. All opinion is their own. Information correct at the time of publication.
This week I will be part of a team trekking 26 miles up,across, and down the Peak District. We estimate it should take about ten hours. The most I’ve walked recently is two hours, and we stopped to have a little picnic halfway through, so this should be fun!
Thanks again to Hull Truck Theatre for inviting us to go and see their Christmas production – this year it is Oliver Twist. It’s on until the 5th January 2019 and it’s another stellar show from Mark Babych and the Hull Truck crew. Continue reading →
SJ Works have kindly sent me a Smart Phone First Aid Kit for my bicycle to try out. It’s a first aid kit which attaches to my bike and also has a pouch for my phone. It’s a good addition to our cycling kit. Luckily, we’ve not needed it so far this year, but I look forward to getting out and about on my bike in the new year where hopefully, I won’t need it either. But better safe than sorry!
Thackray Medical Museum is in Leeds in West Yorkshire, in the building that was once the Leeds Union Workhouse. It was re-opened in 1997 as a medical museum by the Thackray family, founders of a world-famous medical supplies company – the building once manufactured hip replacement joints and instruments for renowned hip replacement pioneer Sir John Charnley. It now houses exhibits of medical history and is a great place to learn about medicine and its impact on modern life.
Today we welcome Gemma to the blog. She blogs at Yorkshire Mum of 4. Recently, she made the trip from West Yorkshire to North Wales with her family where they spent five days exploring what the region has to offer.
It might have been over 20 years since I left, but I’m a Devon girl at heart. So taking my kids home for a week every summer always takes me back to my childhood. Morwellham Quay was a staple day out when I was growing up. If we had visitors we took them there, School trips took us there with our friends. And if there was a weekend where we were at a bit of a loss for something to do, it was the perfect place to while away a day.
You know you’re a mum of girls when every decent bag, no matter the style, gets snaffled and you end up having to lug your bits around in a Tesco bag for life. My good travel bag mysteriously vanished last year only to turn up with daughter number 1’s clothes in it on holiday. Marine Superstore understand my plight, and they have very kindly sent me a Helly Hansen Duffel Bag 30l. Thank you!