Owl Encounters.

Owl Encounters.

Kilmacthomas, County Waterford. Ireland.

For anyone camping or caravanning around Waterford or Kilkenny this summer and looking for things to do then here is one activity that is exciting, interesting and a bit unusual.

Last year my daughter was asked what she wanted to do on her birthday."An Owl party" came the reply from the juvenile Harry Potter obsessive.

"What the hell is an owl party?" I asked my wife later. Fortunately she was way ahead of me and went looking online for companies offering kids days with owls and other birds of prey. Through the alchemy of the internet she settled on Mayfield Birds Of Prey. Based in County Waterford they offer all sorts of things raptor oriented from Hawk walks to school visits.

We booked the owl encounter for the birthday party. A group of thirteen kids and assorted parents all of whom were as new to the concept of an "Owl Party" as I was.

The session was curated by Willie and Bridget who run the company. Their enthusiasm and love for the birds was obvious and infectious. They talked us through the habits of the owls on display, their history and showed us how to glove up to handle them correctly and with care.

The smaller birds could fly from glove to glove and all the kids had the chance to handle the birds including a Barn owl, a screech owl and others. The only one that was restricted to just the adults was Izzy. A Bengali Eagle Owl with a stern expression and seriously bright orange eyes. Izzy was nearly as big as some of the kids and the weight of her on the arm was noticeable even for a grown up.

Photo opportunities were organised by Willie and by the end of the day we had a collection of memorable pictures and happy children. It was a genuinely refreshing alternative to the usual play centre birthday session and great fun for all of us. Being so close to such interesting, well looked after and gorgeous creatures was an absolute privilege.

We paid €20 per adult and €6 per child for the Owl encounter and feel that we got a bargain. Other prices apply depending on the activity and the Hawk walks are probably not suitable for young children.

For more details contact Mayfield Birds of Prey on 0862134367. Website is www.falconryinireland.com

Caravan and camping sites within easy driving distance include: Newton Cove, Casey’s, Dunmore East and Bayview in Waterford as well as Tree Grove and Nore Valley in Kilkenny.