Saturday 22 May 2010

The Birds

So Thursday was day one of my holiday, the main bulk of which will be taken up with a trip to Liverpool commencing on Monday. So, that leaves me a few free days beforehand. Usually, I would just spend these days sitting on my backside, watching movies and just passing time but for a change I decided I wanted to do something. The original plan for Thursday was to head to Balloch to have a wander about and go for a visit to the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. However, the weather was not good so in the end I did just sit about catching up on a few movies and tv shows.

Fast forward to Friday. The weather was supposed to be 'sunny intervals' so I decided to go for it. A train trip to Glasgow - Partick - Balloch finally saw me on the shores of Loch Lomond at about 11:45am. I decided to head straight up to the birds as that was my main purpose for the journey.

A 20 minute walk up Stirling Road finally got me there. You enter through the Home and Garden centre and then it's up the back. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I'd always wanted to go to a Falconry but never had one nearby. I was pleasantly suprised. After paying the modest £3.50 entry fee, you get a tour round each aviary with a talk on each species and how each bird came to be housed there. First up, you had the front of the centre with the owls. After that, you get taken to the other section which contains the birds - eagles, hawks, falcons, buzzards etc. As there is no fencing on the front of this section you are presented with unrivalled views of them.

Once the tour was over, I was allowed to wander about and take a few snaps of the birds. It was fascinating. Being from the west coast of Scotland, that average airbourne wildlife are pigeons and seagulls with not much else so it was amazing to see all these different species.

Part of my intention was to try and get a picture holding one of the birds. I was imagining it would be a gift photo and to get it appearing on the blog I would have to use the ten year old scanner and the picture probably wouldn't digitise well. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the sign advertising photos with the birds and there was an option to use your own camera. The prices for this were very reasonable. For all but one of the birds, to have a picture with your own camera was £2.50 or £3.50. The one bird that was £7.50 was Orla the Golden Eagle. So, guess what one I opted for.

Yip, the big one. What an experience. Being a tad on the heavy side, your hand has to get supported with a wooden support. So after getting gloved up, Stewart brought came round the corner with the bird on his arm. It was a big brute. It has some grip and seeing the beak and eyes wuite close to your face on the corner of your eye was quite intimidating. So anyway, it seemed to settle and I got the photo taken. Just at this point, an older couple came in and Stewart decided to keep the eagle out for a bath so it was a good chance to see it in a different situation.

After the bird centre, I headed on over to Lomond Shores to see what all the fuss is about having never been. I have to admit, it was nice just to sit and eat a cone but it was a bit lacking. I think on the weekend with sunnier weather it might be more the hustle and bustle I was expecting. After that it was time for the train to get me in for some food.

So, all in all, a great day out. The prices are very reasonable, the staff are very informative and take pride in the birds. I would highly recommend a visit. So as always, you can click the below album for more pictures. Finally, thanks to Stewart and Ross for a cracking afternoon and for letting me snap away.

2010-05-21 - Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre
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