Tag Archives: eagle

Eagles and Owls at Eagle Encounters in Stellenbosch (2019-05-18) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 FEB 2020

Home to eagles, owls, vultures and just about every other raptor that you can think of, Eagle Encounters is a long running wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre based at the historic Spier wine farm in Stellenbosch. Easily one of Jessica’s favourite animal attractions to visit, Eagle Encounters is the place to go if you want to have a closer look at some remarkable South African birds of prey.

Founded as a non-profit organization by Hank and Tracy Chalmers back in 2001, the self-funded Eagle Encounters is home to a large contingent of raptors, most of which are either injured or were hand-raised, thus making it impossible to be safely returned to the wild.

Visiting their site is something I always return with slightly mixed feelings about, primarily because I am not a particularly huge fan of aviaries (unless they are massive free flight operations of course), but it should be noted that the excellent team continuously evaluate and update their facilities to keep in step with the latest global conservation practices, meaning that just about every time I visit they’re doing something in a slightly new (better) way.

While there is an impressively large collection of birds of prey to make your way through, it is always the interactive attractions which the girls love most, like getting up close to the diminutive Scops owls, touching and talking to the pretty Barn and Wood owls, and holding up the big Spotted Eagle owls.

The touching and handling of various snakes, lizards and dragons is always a hit, the woolly sheep and his grumpy goat partner that guard the small kids play area always entertain, and the snake striking hunt of the secretary bird always catches the eye.

Then there are the playful cape foxes to observe, buzzards, falcons, hawks, vultures and eagles to admire from up close, and of course the brilliantly entertaining (and educational) flying displays to marvel at.

With three flight displays throughout the day, the enthusiastic team of bird handlers show off their charges’ flying, hunting and other behavioural quirks, all while doing their bit in educating visitors all about these majestic birds of prey.

It’s a brilliantly educational visit for both young and old alike, and one always comes back having learned more than just a thing or two about these remarkable birds that we share our open spaces with.

And as an added bonus (just in case all of the above wasn’t enough), your are of course on the beautiful, tourist friendly, art filled, historic beauty that is Spier wine estate. So no real reason not to visit then, is there?

World of Birds in Hout Bay (2015-02-15) Photo Gallery 18 FEB 2015

Last Sunday (following our relaxing picnic on Saturday), Chantelle and I rounded up the girls and headed off nice and early across the Boerewors Curtain to Hout Bay, where the plan was to meet up with Monty and Cheryl at the world renowned World of Birds sanctuary. As it turned out, neither of us quite made the 10:00 meeting time – we got stuck behind a sightseeing bus whilst they got stuck behind cyclists! (Not that one complains though – driving past Kirstenbosch and then on to Hout Bay is always a fantastic treat in terms of the scenery).

Anyway, in the end we arrived at the World of Birds at pretty much the same time, and first stop for the in-laws was a cup of coffee at the little Robin’s Nest restaurant. There it was a rather nice surprise to have Robert and new squeeze Tarryn join us for the day, and with everyone now awake, and Jess pretty restless, it was off to view the feathered fowls!

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World of Birds bills itself as such:

“World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.

A tropical garden setting in the Hout Bay Valley is the environment in which the aviaries are spaced over 4 ha of land, framed by the back of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman’s Peak and Little Lion’s Head. A paradise for nature lovers and photographers, the World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions which no visitor should miss.”

IMG_20150215_120426 chantelle lotter and jessica ride a gorilla

Yup, that’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of birds to see, so it’s no wonder that we ended up wandering around the sanctuary for 3 hours or so! The variety of bird life (from literally right across the world!) is always astonishing, not to mention the fact that you literally walk alongside them in the enclosures it an absolute delight. In fact, it is best summed up as a proper treat of an outing!

(If I was a photographer with a proper camera I would be in seventh heaven thanks to all the feathered models I would have access to… but I’m not, which explains all the tiny, tiny birds on the photos taken with my phone!)

IMG_20150215_120325 monty and cheryl montgomery with jessica lotter

The weather was perfect, and apart from a little slip and slide that saw Jess soaked to the bone, boots and all, everything ran pretty smoothly, with the kids (and adults) thoroughly enjoying themselves.

As you can see, I was pretty busy with my camera phone as well:

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Having seen our fill of eagles, owls, storks and chickens, we ended our adventure in Hout Bay by joining the heavy traffic to the harbour, where our initial plan of enjoying some takeaway fish and chips fell through based entirely on just how busy the harbour was – i.e. it was packed!

IMG_20150215_141416 hout bay harbour

In the end, we headed up the ramp to the nautically themed Mariner’s Wharf, where after a bit of a wait in the bar for a table, we sat down and enjoyed some particularly tasty (but expensive!) fish and chips.

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All in all, a fantastic day out for the family, and as always, a trip that I can highly recommend! :)

Related Link: http://www.worldofbirds.org.za/

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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Photo Gallery: Falcon Ridge (2010-05-10) My Life | Photo Gallery 10 MAY 2010

The Drakensberg is a spectacular part of our country, and one of the spots well worth a visit if you are ever in the area (like when Chantelle surprised me to a weekend away at the stunning Inkungu lodge for my 30th birthday!) is Falcon Ridge, a birds of prey sanctuary that is in the business of rehabilitating our feathery predators.

With a spectacular view down into the valley, knowledgeable handlers and an awe-inspiring collection of rescued and rehabilitated birds of prey, Falcon Ridge is definitely on my list of places to return to! :)

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