Archive for August, 2012

Fairy House

I wonder how many times I walked past this little fairy house and never realized it was there.


Really, you see the damnedest things at the Ren Farie, like the 4th Doctor wandering around

And when you start seeing mini-marshmallows all over the ground, you know you are approaching the booth of Siege The Day, makers of hand held and desktop catapults.  Honestly, I love these guys.

A Quiet Moment

Bristol Faire is always busy and full of sound, except here and there you find moments of tranquility.  Usually you find these moments down by the Royal Court’s area in between their sessions.

They have several little tent “houses” set up for some the more major players in the court, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I must say his is my favorite of these little tent houses; it set up as a parlor where he can meet with people, or play a game of chess.  Most of the time this parlor is passed by if he is not there, but every now and again someone takes advantage of the chess board just sitting there.

Early in the day I spotted the chess board and stopped to take a couple of quick photos, only briefly wishing my friends and I had split up to catch different shows.  To be honest I’d have gotten my butt kicked by either of them, I’m just not that great at chess.

Still, I always admire the more detailed chess pieces, and this set looks like they’ve received some good use while being well cared for.

Later on in the day I wandered back to court to see if there was anything interesting going, and I spotted a young couple who had sat down to take advantage of the shade, chairs and chess board.

I admit, it made me smile.

Falconry 2012- part the third

So in this final installment of falconry photos we have the big falcons.  Fast, strong and very difficult to photograph.  Ray has a Saker falcon that I’ve featured here before, Chula, as well as a pair of Barbary/Gyrfalcon captive bred birds named Sophia and The Phantom.

These bird are hard to photograph on the wing.  Chula is a bit easier, since I’ve been watching her for the past 4 or 5 years and kind of have a feel for habits in the arena.  The young ones, Sophia and Phantom, however are maddeningly frustrating to capture in a non-blurry way.  Phantom in particular, since he likes to live up to his name by vanishing in one direction behind the trees, climbing up and stooping from another direction.

Sophia kindly perched on the fence for a quick photo.


Here she just missed a pass at the lure

Braking and turning midair

Unfortunately for you the only good photo I got of Phantom was of him stuffing his face.

Falconry 2012- part the second

Last post I closed out with a quote from Ray, head falconer of Flight of the Raptor.  “Falconry is based on respect and trust, if you respect the birds, you will earn their trust.”  There is actually a follow up to that, “The bird will never respect you, and you can never trust the bird.”

Today we’re going to take a look at at the two smallest birds flown during the session, Ace the American Kestrel and Chica the Merlin.

To be honest, I didn’t really get anything too great of Ace, he is just too damn tiny and spent most his time on the other side of the arena.  I suppose this means that I need to get a bigger lens.  Kestrels are also known as sparrowhawks, though to be fair their main prey is grasshoppers and the like.  They aren’t really too “useful” to a falconer hunting for his own cook pot, but are great little birds to learn with.  Did I mention that they are as colorful as tiny?

Ace in flight-

Ace to the hand (you can see how tiny he is!  Dare I say “Squee!”)

Next we have the lovely little Chica.  She is a bit bigger than Ace, but not by much.  Merlins are not hawks but falcons, meaning they hunt other birds and have long tapering wings rather than the broad blunt wings of the hawks and eagles.  They capture prey in the air and bind to them, killing swiftly with a bite to sever the spine at the base of the neck.    Here Chica was chasing the training lure rather than another bird.

I like this shot mainly because it shows off that wonderful camouflage as she comes in from a shallow stoop towards the lure.

Talk about intense focus!  Remember the caveat Ray gave on the trust and respect of a falconer’s relationship with his birds?  Well here you can see how he keeps tabs on his birds if they should choose to just fly off and not return.   Which they do sometimes.  The wire hanging down from Chica’s leg a little GPS transponder, if she flies off they can load up into a car and track her down.  Once found she will most likely be willing to return to the falconer’s fist with the temptation of a food reward, something all the birds have learned to expect anytime the falconer asks them to return to the hand.

Next up will be the supersonic superstars of the show, the big falcons!

Falconry 2012 part the first

It is that time of year again!  Welcome back to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, one of my favorite places on earth.  I made a point of catching the falconry session twice in hopes of catching one or two good photos, I’m fairly happy with year’s turn out.


First let me introduce you via linky to Flight of the Raptor, please check them out.  They provide the educational sessions for Bristol’s faire pretty much every year and no matter how many times I visit the show I am always impressed, enthralled, entertained and educated at the end.

I’ll start with the Harris hawks, always fantastic birds.


One of the more interesting things about Harris hawks is they will often work cooperatively.   Here two of the capture the lure and battle it in an impressive display of strength.


One of the things I love about Flight of the Raptor is Ray, the lead falconer.  His love of the birds and passion for falconry is magnificent.  Here he calms his more nervous hawk before hooding her.

As Ray says, falconry is based on respect and trust, if you respect the birds, you will earn their trust.