On a wing and a preyer
The dramatic setting of the island has provided the perfect backdrop
for Euan & Jenny's fledgling business
Northumberland couple fly the
nest to set up falconry centre on Isle of Skye
It would be wrong to assume that
just because it is called the Isle of Skye Falconry, it is only falcons
that Jenny Sandiford and Euan Naylor are involved with.
Recently the pair took delivery of a
new batch of birds, among them a European
Eagle Owl (the largest of the owl family, weighing in at a hefty
7lb), a Little Owl (one of the
smallest, at 7oz) and a Harris Hawk.
There are a variety of birds because
school groups and tourists like to see the differences between owls,
falcons and hawks, close-up, on the glove, and in free flight.
Already one local school has chosen
to sponsor Milly, the Barn Owl,
raising money to pay for the bird's feed costs for a year. In return,
the children can get regular visits from Milly, as if she was their own.
Both Jenny and Euan have moved to
Skye from Northumberland. "I studied conservation and countryside
management at a college near Newcastle," begins Jenny. "Euan worked at
Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland."
"Euan's father was partly
responsible for us choosing Skye. He loves the island and is a frequent
visitor to it. he has a house here and offered us its use for the next
three years. Also, we thought Skye would benefit from a falconry
business as a tourist attraction, as well as for locals, and that there
would be a demand for its services."
"We did a lot of market research.
There is barely a county in England that does not have a falconry
The pair moved to Skye in May and
opened their doors in August. The ultimate aim is to be able to welcome
members of the public to a purpose-built bird of prey centre.
There is plenty for people to see
and do. For instance, for a party of between one and six, there is the
Hawk Walk, a two-hour
trail through the large grounds and woods of a nearby hotel, with a hawk
in close pursuit. There are also
courses, for those aspiring to train and fly a bird of their own.
Jenny and Euan also offer
static and flying displays at local
and regional events such as agricultural shows, host corporate days and
stage talks and demonstrations to children from disadvantaged urban
areas. At the moment all bookings have to be made in advance.
Hunting is not on the pair's agenda
- yet. Scaring is, however. "We have carried out work for people
troubled by birds, say seagulls beginning to colonise a town centre or
sparrows converging on a retail food outlet. We can come in with a bird,
say a Hybrid Falcon for seagulls and a
Harris Hawk for sparrows, and allow
it to make its presence known," says Jenny. "No harm will come to the
birds, we just intend to scare them. We've also had calls from farmers
who have rabbits to control."
Contact Isle of Skye Falconry on
Scottish Youth Business Trust,