Strand News

VOLUNTEER ASSOCIATION | Textile Museum of Canada

John Alexander: Falconer for a Day

Time seems to fly by at an inordinate speed. It feels like only last month that I left the Museum, when it actually has been two years. Looking at what I am doing now, I wonder how I found the time to work and still create and market my photographs. But I digress.

When you graciously gave me a financial gift when I left the Museum, I was at odds as to what to spend it on. A new piece of equipment? More supplies? I’d even thought of buying Peter and myself new jackets to wear while hiking (keeping with the textile theme). In the end I did something completely different.

John with Doogle 3

John Alexander with Doogle, the Snowy Owl

When we were last in England, I had taken a day trip to Leeds Castle, Canterbury and Dover. While at Leeds Castle, I found a flyer about day programs, and on that list was falconry. So when we planned to return to London this year, I decided to book myself in for the “Falconer for a Day” experience.

Peter did not want to accompany me, so off I went to Bearsted Station and to Leeds Castle on my own. When it says Falconer for a Day, they mean the entire day. I was there from 9 am to 4 pm, and basically shadowed a staff member named Reese. They have 22 birds on site – from a Burrowing, Barn and Tawny Owls to five Harris Hawks, a Peregrine Falcon and Steppe Eagle.

We did everything from clean up from the night before, to prepping the meals and snacks (not for the squeamish), to flying the falcons, hawks and owls. The first bird I had the opportunity to work with was a Snowy Owl named Doogle. Throughout the day I was also able to fly / work with Mozart, (a Eurasian Eagle Owl), Handsome Harry (a Turkey Vulture), Brock and Texas (Harris Hawks from the Southern U.S.), and Conga (African Goshawk).

I was able to experience everything from training (with Conga), to helping with the daily 2 pm exhibition (Mozart, Harry and Brock), and at the end of the day going for a “Hawk Walk” (Texas – their female Harris Hawk), which replicates the experience of hunting for your dinner in medieval times. (No, catch of the day was not on the menu!) To make the day complete, I stayed overnight on the castle grounds where dinner and breakfast the next morning were included in the price of the room.

I am so happy that I saved your gift to do something that is truly remarkable and memorable, and was a fantastic experience. I am eager to go back again!

I can’t thank you enough for your gift and what it has enabled me to do – to add another wonderful memory of my work with the volunteers.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

John Alexander

Alexander Arts


About Strand News

Strand News is the online meeting place for members of the Volunteer Association of the Textile Museum of Canada. Our annual fundraisers, including the Textile Bazaar, support Museum programs and exhibitions.

2 comments on “John Alexander: Falconer for a Day

  1. Patricia Hawkins
    June 22, 2015

    Wow, that looks and sounds truly fantastic, what a beautiful bird (the one on the right) . . .patricia hawkins

  2. Mary Jane McIntyre
    June 22, 2015

    John: That is a wonderful travel story. If you haven’t read H is for Hawk, speed over to a bookstore or your local library and get a copy. About a goshawk, it will give you more details about falconry and reinforce the memory of your adventure.

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This entry was posted on June 21, 2015 by in GET TO KNOW the Volunteer Community, News, People and tagged .

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