Tag Archives: eagle encounters

Owls, Kites and Vultures in Eagle Encounters at Spier, Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 19 MAR 2019

Eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, kites, buzzards, secretary birds and vultures – if birds of prey interest you then a visit to Eagle Encounters at Spier in Stellenbosch should probably very firmly be on your cards.

Founded in 2001, Eagle Encounters is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism center. It is home to numerous types of rescued raptors, has a number of interactive touch points, and their flying demonstrations are always both informative and entertaining.

The girls always love visiting there (touching and interacting with the owls is by far their favourite bit), and honestly, the institution always makes for an interesting outing. Easy to recommend really.

And as a bonus, a visit to Eagle Encounters is also a visit to the delightful Spier wine estate, itself a brilliant adventure packed with food, art, activities, wine and endless views.

Related Link: Eagle Encounters | Spier | Stellenbosch

Touching Owls from Eagle Encounters at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 MAR 2017

I’m not massively fond of animals in captivity. However, there is most of the time a sound argument for this to be a thing (and necessary at that), so okay, I’ll go with it. Plus, when you have kids, nothing beats a trip to see some really interesting feathered/furry/scaly creatures – which is a lot easier when they are conveniently all in one place.

Now, if birds of prey is your thing and you find yourself in the Stellenbosch winelands, then you are definitely in luck, because Eagle Encounters, situated on land donated by the renowned Spier wine estate, is definitely worth a stop.

Founded in 2001, Eagle Encounters is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre.

Birds of prey, raptors are their speciality, and scattered all about their premises you will encounter a wide variety of eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, buzzards, vultures, owls and all other manner of feathered hunters.

With funding coming primarily from their eco-tourism slant, Eagle Encounters makes sure that there is enough on the go to keep visitors interested, with various interactive shows throughout the day, including falconry demonstrations, secretary bird stomp displays, and mock hunts for their varied selection of raptors.

The birds are for the most part out in the open, tethered to their perches, which is apparently the currently most accepted way of keeping these big birds safe and sound, as it helps in preventing them from injuring themselves whilst in captivity.

(Like I said, I’m not overly fond of animals in captivity, though birds have always been the worst for me. Nothing sadder than seeing a bird in a tiny cage. I honestly don’t know why anyone keeps birds as pets. Very maddening for me. Strangely enough though, fish are alright. I have no idea why I have such a lower opinion of the little swimming fellas out there..)

Anyway, the kids always seem to enjoy the outing – though I suspect that is almost entirely based on the fact that they are allowed to touch owls, and better still, coax them to come and sit on their arms.

Which so far has worked out pretty well for us.

In other words, I’m still waiting for the day one of the owls decides to make a sudden poo!

(Mind you, this particular visit of ours was pretty cool. I got to hold a Cape Vulture aloft – man, those birds are much lighter than what their size suggests! Sadly though, Chantelle didn’t get a photo of this. A lot better than the last time I was called up during an interactive show – the guys at Giraffe House put a tarantula on my face!)

Right. So in short, an interesting visit if you are into your birds of prey. Photo opportunities as with any bird sanctuary is a bit of a hit and miss – I know that I certainly never get anything good on my little old phone camera whenever we pop in for a visit to a place with creatures behind fencing/netting…

Naturally, here’s a map if you want to go and touch some soft fluffy owls for yourself one day:

Related Link: Eagle Encounters | Facebook | Spier

Photo Gallery: Eagle Encounters at Spier (2013-10-20) Photo Gallery 22 OCT 2013

Last Saturday was pretty awesome, what with Jessica and myself spending literally the whole day together, followed by an evening visit that saw Retha and Miguel (finally back from their teaching stint in Borneo) join us for homemade hamburgers and chips with a movie (This is 40 – which was actually pretty funny, even if it didn’t really go anywhere), the night being capped off with some fun FIFA battles between Miguel and myself that went on well into the early hours of Sunday morning, much to the detriment of poor Retha who couldn’t go to sleep thanks to our incessant cheering!

After a leisurely breakfast at the Garden Kitchen and saying goodbye to our friends, Chantelle, Jess and I took a snap decision to head out to the Eagle Encounters bird sanctuary at Spier (the weather was too poor to go for first choice World of Birds in Hout Bay), a tourist spot where believe it or not, neither of us had actually been to before!

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Although it’s sad to see all the quite magnificent birds of prey cooped up (or in this case, tethered up), the sanctuary really does some incredible work, and all in all it really was amazing to see some of these majestic birds from so close up. We enjoyed an informative show (where Jessica completely surprised us by demanding that the owl come sit on her hand as well), and a demonstration or two (the secretary bird’s incredible kick accuracy is certainly something to behold, never mind the bounding porcupine who loves to play run), and by the time the rain finally decided to show up, we were quite happy with what we had seen on the day.

Definitely a sight worth visiting then in other words (though only if you pay that little extra to gain access to the shows), especially if you haven’t seen some of the bigger eagles in person ever before!

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Cape Town Stadium under Falcon Guard General Nonsense 09 OCT 2013

cape town stadium falcon scarlet on patrolI came across this interesting piece of news the other day – The City of Cape Town has gone and appointed a Peregrine Falcon as the official pitch protector for the Cape Town Stadium!

Essentially this is a bit of an environmentally friendly, technically non-lethal way for the stadium pitch to be kept clear of pigeons, who are the biggest obstruction when it comes to grass seeding.

Approximately 120 kg of perennial rye seed, an all-year grass cultivar, is planted monthly on the stadium pitch to repair the damage caused by sporting events and concerts. Pigeons cause the most destruction before the seeds start to germinate by consuming up to 70% of the planted seed. Consequently, the rye grass does not grow. The pigeon activity makes it difficult to keep the grass on the pitch dense – a requirement for top-quality sporting events.

The officially appointed falcon goes by the name of Scarlet, and she belongs to one Hank Chalmers, the owner of Eagle Encounters – the largest raptor rehabilitation center in Southern Africa. She was brought to the centre four years ago with a broken wing and foot after having been hit by a car. Her prospects were dire but after eight months of intense rehabilitation she was able to fly again. She will, however, never fly well enough again to hunt and survive in the wild.

Scarlet will be flown weekly at the stadium over the next six months (basically flying a lure-chase pattern created by a falconer standing in the middle of the pitch) to reinforce the presence of the predator. Thereafter, the frequency of the visits will be reduced to the level required to manage the pitch.

According to the experts, “This is a non-lethal programme. The aim is not to kill but to deter and to change the behaviour of the target species – in this case the presence of the falcon causes pigeons to adopt a new pattern of behaviour – away from the stadium. Unlike other bird-deterrent devices, the target species never becomes habituated to the presence of a live bird of prey.”

Nevertheless, I suspect there is going to be a lot of guano clean up at the stadium for the next couple of weeks, thanks to some very shit-scared pigeons flying around!