Skye hawks put pests to flight
Jenny Sandiford and Euan Naylor hold
some of the falcons used in their business
by Clive Dennier
A KILLER business idea which has taken wings on Skye has veered off in a
The Isle of Skye Falconry has become a popular tourist attraction since
it was formed last summer, but recent interest in the birds' natural
predatory instincts has led to a change of direction for the business.
The birds of prey have attracted attention from companies wishing to
enlist the natural predators to solve bird problems of their own.
Euan Naylor and his partner, Jenny Sandiford set up the falconry
business in Kensaleyre near Uig with the help of grants from Skye and
Lochalsh Enterprise (Sale) and the Prince's Scottish Youth Business
Trust. The fledgling business began by offering hawk walks and falconry
courses, giving locals and tourists the chance to see and handle birds
of prey from around the world, while at the same time promoting
environment and conservation issues.
News of the unusual attraction spread and the couple were soon
approached by businesses seeking solutions to pest control problems..
Now the couple's birds have become seagulls' number one enemy as they
guard the skies above industrial estates and inside warehouses across
Ms Sandiford explained the company's recent change in direction:
"We didn't see ourselves offering a pest control service when we first
started the business but it has certainly helped us survive a quiet
"We've completed a few contracts, and our birds seem to have been quite
successful at scaring off gulls. They don't actually catch or kill them,
they just disturb them from nesting and roosting in the area"
The couple benefited from the HIE Starts scheme - a European-funded
initiative to provide a regular. income and advice for new businesses
during the first few months of trading.
With six months of HIE Starts assistance from SALE behind them, the
couple had all the support they needed to pursue this new market, as Mr
"The allowance scheme provided us with the capital to buy the materials
needed to start our business, and without this we would have struggled
through the winter.
"We started off with a team of eight birds and now have 11, with three
new arrivals due in March. As our number of birds increases so does the
need for a bigger site, and we have started looking for land on Skye
large enough to house around 80 birds."
& Journal, February 13, 2003