The Raptor Centre at Hobbledown

Hobbledown always has been a great day but it now offers an added attraction for animal lovers with the launch of the new Raptor Centre.

We always love a day out to Hobbledown – there is so much for all ages. So we were delighted to be asked to visit the new Raptor Centre.

The centre features a selection of owls, hawks, eagles and falcons, this centre will also host a breeding pair of Lugger Falcons, endangered in the wild due to demand from poaching.

All birds are amazing but birds of prey are extra special. It would be easy to characterise them as large with sharp claws but there is actually a huge diversity among the birds. On our visit to the centre we saw a variety of birds in all shapes and sizes, each with their own hunting style.

We were also amazed to see the different personalities on show. Some of the birds were calling out seeming to thrive in the attention of from the audience. Others however are still adjusting to their new home and nervously flew around their aviary.
What is clear is that all the birds have a wonderful new home and are being lovingly cared for by the team.

The centre was founded by Eddie Hare in 1977. Unfortunately Eddie passed away shortly before the centre opened but his wife Ronnie, who has been flying birds for 20 years, is now in charge. The centre remains a family affair with Ronnie’s 12-year old daughter providing vital support on the day.

Birds of prey may be at the top of the food chain but that doesn’t mean they aren’t endangered. We loved meeting Aasher, one of the Lugger Falcon’s at the centre. Aasher is small and perfectly calm around people. So it is hard to believe that this falcon’s numbers have dwindled so much.

However, its natural habitat is the Indian sub-continent where there are often more pressing geo-political priorities. Even where conservation efforts are in place, the Lugger Falcon often fails to attract the attention of other endangered creatures in the region, such as the snow leopard.

It is fantastic to see the new centre take a leading part in the international breeding project aiming to boost numbers of these critically endangered birds. Within just 24 hours we were able to use our new-found knowledge gained at the Raptor Centre as my daughter completed a school project on endangered animals. What better way to bring this project to life than discussing the birds we had seen at Hobbledown.

The Centre – and Hobbledown in general – is a wonderful day out for all ages. Our group consisted of children aged 13, 11 and 8 years old. There was plenty for all to do – giving the mummies a great opportunity to catch up.

You can see the Lugger Falcons – and all the birds of prey – at Hobbledown this summer. Ronnie will be leading flying demonstrations every day during the holidays apart from Wednesdays.

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