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DAY OUT RECOMMENDATION

Magnificent Flying Displays at the Hawk Conservancy, Hampshire

By Sarah Frost – 24th September 2020
hawk conservancy hampshire
What I loved about The Hawk Conservancy:

The flying displays showcase not only the wonderful birds here but also the passion that the staff hold for their work.

 

Worth paying a babysitter?

This is one for the whole family; there is a play area for children, and they’ll love the displays.

 

Expect:

To learn about the conservation work they do at the Trust, whilst being wowed by the birds of prey.

 

Value for money:

10/10 – the money really does go back into the Trust, which makes it worth every penny in my opinion.

The Hawk Conservancy can be found near Andover, in North Hampshire. You must pre-book tickets line, as capacity is reduced, but as we went on a Tuesday outside of the school holidays, we were able to do this the night before. There is a large, free car park on-site; and a picnic field next to it which is accessible from the park as well.

 

The Flying Displays

 

The main attraction here are the flying displays. Please check the timetable before you go as they are subject to change. For our visit, the first was at 11:30 am in the Savannah seating area. There were staff manned with 2m long sticks who ensured everyone was seated at a social distance and this felt very safe. If you’d like a front seat, I’d suggest getting there 15 mins before the display times.

 

This first display was called ‘Wings of Africa’ with a warm up act of an African fish eagle. He was beautiful; swooping down to catch fish from the watering hole. There were then appearances from some of the vultures. Vultures certainly have a bad reputation; however the staff here will do their very best to change your mind about them. Many of the vulture species are endangered and you’ll learn all about why that is, and how amazing they are for the environment.

 

The highlight of the display for me was the secretary bird. The staff demonstrated how he would react to a snake in the wild, and I was quite shocked at how viciously he kicked it in the head!

 

The second display took place in Reg’s Wildflower meadow and featured several birds of prey. Beware if you don’t like birds (I don’t really know why you would visit) but they do fly very close to your head and you do need to duck! We saw some more vultures, a hovering kestrel and a family of black kites whom Miriam led in an incredible demonstration. The displays are all commentated by another member of the team and they are full of interesting information. There are hearing loops installed, and speakers close by to make it easier to hear everything.

 

The final display was at 3:45 pm, and we did notice that a fair few people had gone home as the weather turned much colder. We just picked up a coffee at Feather’s restaurant and took it along to the woodland seating to watch the owl display. Many of the owls had been hand-raised and are therefore very friendly and tame. Again, this display was full of facts about owls and a brilliant showcase of their silent flight.

 

In between displays is the ideal time to visit some of the other birds. There are over 150 birds here at the Trust. One of my favourite exhibits were the burrowing owls. They are very inquisitive and willing to pose for a photo. You can pay £19.50 to meet them at the end of the day, and I was tempted as they are cute.

 

The facilities

 

Firstly, everything was very clean and there were clear signs in place when there might be queuing, to remind you to keep 2m distance from others.

 

For food and drink, there is the Feathers restaurant, which had expanded into a marquee outside. The food menu is reasonably priced; we enjoyed a toasted sandwich and salad for £5. There was also a Shepherd’s Hut near the meadow, serving ice cream and drinks in the middle of the day.

 

There is a children’s play area which is a good size, and a gift shop selling a lovely mix of items. There is only one toilet block, and half of them were cordoned off for social distancing so I can imagine there would be a little queuing on a busier day.

 

In terms of accessibility, there were a few wheelchair users visiting on the same day as us, and there was adequate seating space in all the display venues. The rest of the venue is also wheelchair and pram accessible.

 

I would recommend arriving here 20 minutes before the first flying display and heading there first. There is plenty of time in between the three displays to view the rest of the park and to have lunch. If you want to join as a member on the day, you can also get your admission price refunded.

 

The conservation work they do here at the Hawk Conservancy is so valuable and it was lovely to learn all about so many species. I really do recommend this as a day out.

 

For more information visit: https://www.hawk-conservancy.org/

Enjoy!

 

Sarah x

RECOMMENDATION

This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

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