The Countryman's Weekly


February 21
08:10 2018

WEB1-21-02-18Disciples of St Hubert – a day’s falconry in Suffolk

By Ben Skipper.

I FOUND myself enjoying a warm cup of coffee seated with austringers (keepers of Goshawks) Lee Rush and Nick Kester, president of the British Falconers’ Club, awaiting the arrival of the rest of the day’s party. The team, two austringers and a hawker, had come over from continental Europe to experience, learn and skill build with Lee and Nick. The three were Frank from France and Sebastian from Belgium – both with Goshawks – and Alex, a hawker, also from France.

Over breakfast Lee discussed the day’s falconry with Frank, the senior visitor. The purpose of the day was to shake down the falcons and hawk, to allow them to grow as raptors and for the handlers to develop their own skills and experience.

With intermittent showers and a morning of poor light the team would indeed be tested. With the combined experience of Lee and Nick and the eagerness of the handlers, it was clearly going to be about growth, enjoyment and excitement.

When we arrived at the hunting grounds, situated in East Suffolk, the birds were prepared and accompanying hounds, used for flushing out game, were given an opportunity to stretch their legs. The three birds were nothing short of beautiful, yet at the same time had a deadly air only these magnificent birds could have. Once their hoods were removed their eyes quickly adjusted to their environment and almost immediately they began to seek quarry.




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