Eagle Heights

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Being obsessed with taking photos of Birds of Prey I decided to take advantage of yet another Groupon/Travelzoo offer. Having visited the excellent English School of Falconry (see my previous reviews) near Biggleswade many times I was pleased to see this offer was for a different venue. I also wanted to put my recently purchased Nikon D90 through its paces. I wanted to try and wean myself off the safety of the “auto” function! Eagle Heights is in the Darent Valley, Eynsford, Kent and is just off junction 3 of the M25. It was easy to find and on arrival we received a warm welcome along with a leaflet detailing other activities and the times of the flying displays, etc.. We were surprised to find a reptile arena, meercats (one of my favourites …yes I am one of those people who never tire of the ”simples” adverts!), huskies (all rescued) as well as the many aviaries which housed a multitude of rescued birds of prey which included owls, hawks and eagles. Eagle Heights is run as a philanthropic organisation by family and friends. They have an education programme in the UK and in 2014 they are extending this to Gambia, West Africa. I was disappointed to see that two beautiful cheetahs, favourite felines of mine, were in a outside compound that seemed on the small side given that they are the fastest creatures on the planet. However we discovered that they were also rescue animals and were soon to move to Africa (to a 2 acre enclosure) along with a few of the African birds of prey. The setting is beautiful – high above the Kent countryside and is an area of outstanding beauty – we were lucky with the weather and I managed to take a few shots of the beautiful views (see photos). We had a wander around before the first flying display and really enjoyed the reptile house as well as the hilarious antics of the meercats! The pygmy goats were funny too, one in particular really seemed to enjoy having his photo taken and started headbutting the gate when we turned away to leave … a right diva!

Adjacent to the flying arena there was a picnic area with wooden benches where you could eat your own food. (You are warned not to eat anything during the flying demonstrations for obvious reasons) There is also a shop, cafeteria and children’s play area. The two handlers, Alex & Johnny, were absolutely brilliant. So informative, friendly and made us laugh too with the stories about each of the birds different characters and funny ways!They encouraged everyone to ask questions and were particularly good with the children who asked. Their love for these incredible birds was obvious and they really enjoyed sharing their knowledge .

The flying display was superb – we didn’t want it to end! Due to the birds being able to swoop down with a backdrop of glorious English countryside along with a blue sky I managed to get some good photos. (For this reason I much preferred this venue to the aforementioned one near Bedford)The birds included an owl,a kite and a vulture that was scared of heights!! During the display the handlers pointed out a kestrel high in the sky that wasn’t part of the organised display … it was a regular visitor apparently. Shortly after the flying display we moved to a different area where Johnny gave a talk about the Huskies and we were allowed to stroke the two chosen from the pack whose names I have forgotten! Once again everyone was invited to ask questions. One young visitor asked if huskies made good pets and once again Johnny gave a very informative response praising the child for asking such a good question. (As mentioned before they are all rescue huskies some from owners who didn’t realise the commitment required as they need a lot of exercise) After the interaction with the handlers we met (Johnny & Alex ) we were left in no doubt that the animals were the main priority and were loved and well cared for .

Prior to our visit we were unaware that there were 2 flying displays and sadly we did not have time to stay for the 2nd which was at 4pm. Eagle Heights opening hours are 10.30am – 5pm March to October and 11am-4pm November to February. In bad weather the flying displays take place inside. You can book individual handling/ flying sessions and falconry courses which would make a brilliant gift!

There is wheelchair access and disabled facilities (whilst there we noticed one visitor in a mobility buggy who had no problems getting around)

Please note no dogs are allowed on site.

The price per visit is great value for money and I can’t wait to go again, Groupon offer or not! Please see the website www.eagleheights.co.uk.

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