Jim Brown, (1973-).

Tuesday November 29, 2011

Comments 16

 One of my earliest memories is of holding my grandfathers hand as we walked around his bird garden, he would talk and whistle to the birds as he went about feeding, topping up the water and cleaning out aviaries.

 In 1999 I found myself sat on a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, the mountain was among the highest in South America and was in fact next to Peru's highest peak Huscaran.

  Having summited Pisco, I was sat just below the glacier when what I believe to be a Harris Hawk came and landed right in front of me only a few feet away.

 Now I don't think I was suffering from a spiritual awakening or it was the effect of the Matte de Coca tea but yes, I had a moment on a mountain.

 As the hawk and I gazed into each others eyes, my life flashed before me, my hopes, my dreams and all the good and bad times. In a split second the hawk was away, it opened its wings, looked over its shoulder and was taken by the Andean winds, it floated off and away over the high mountains leaving me alone again with my thoughts.

  The instant my friend Curtis and I landed back in England we kissed the ground and grinned at each other, South America is a wild place and amongst other things we encountered rioting, were held at gunpoint and came across the still active Shining Path.

  As soon as I could I searched the internet for Birds of Prey and Falconry and found what was then called Leighton Hall Falconry, I booked on a day experience and of course I was hooked on falconry straight away. I volunteered all my spare time to Leighton Hall, coming two days a week for eighteen months, during this time I was loaned a Falcon which I looked after and got fit, I handed WhiteCreek back just before my first bird arrived, a beautiful big female Harris Hawk, I called her Meg.

  The following spring I was employed as assistant falconer at Leighton Hall and so started my professional life as a falconer. After a season or so I went off to do my own thing, my collection of birds increased in species and number and I slowly accumulated the skills I would need to take my falconry on to the next stage. I gained employment at a busy veterinary surgery working part time to allow enough daylight to enable me to look after, train and fly my birds. During my time at the vets I enrolled at Myerscough College and completed a day release course, Animal Nursing Assistant, at the time this was the access course for the Veterinary Nursing qualification.

  Shortly after completing the course content for Animal Nursing Assistant I was approached by an award winning falconry centre and invited to take my team of birds and join them as Head Falconer. By the end of the month my birds and I were living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in beautiful surroundings and I was able to devote all my time to flying them and the other birds already at The Falconry Centre.

  This was my introduction to flying large birds every day, I became "The Bone Man" in an attempt to make the Vultures like me, I succeeded by going to the local butchers and getting the biggest bones imaginable and walking up and down in front of these massive Vultures every day for a week, they love bones obviously, they would glare, change their skin colour and salivate at the sight of these enormous skeletal titbits.

  I jumped feet first into flying a large interesting collection of Birds Of Prey every day and in all weathers. As well as my birds I would fly the Centre birds, most days I had Experience's booked, morning and afternoon, Half days and Full days, Hawk Walks and Owl Experience's. All this as well as three Bird Shows every day, at this time I was flying around thirty birds a day. A I mentioned earlier I was employed at The Falconry Centre as Head Falconer but this title might as well have been Any Falconer as I was the only falconer working at The Centre at this time, assistants were interviewed and some were employed on a trial but no-one showed me the skills associated with working and living with  Birds Of Prey. Anyway it is always easier to do it yourself, I am happy working alone, and I also think domestic birds are happier with one human handler.

  Early in 2008 I was talking with Leighton Hall about a White Tailed Sea Eagle that The Falconry Centre had loaned to them, during the course of this telephone conversation I learned that the falconer at Leighton Hall had moved on to start anew and that Leighton Hall was without birds or falconer.

 It did not take me long to realise that I wanted to be self employed, to live and work back in Lancashire and start my own business, all this would enable me to have more time to explore what had become already a fascination, breeding Birds Of Prey in captivity.

   As I walked over Summerhouse Hill again for the first time in years I could feel the moment was right, in fact much more than that I felt I was coming home again . I accepted the business deal the estate offered without question and my birds and myself were back home by the end of the week. There is nothing more important than the feeling of belonging, I have always felt welcome, respected and I am never taken for granted here at Leighton Hall.

  So The Hawk Garden was created early in 2008, the Bird Of Prey Demonstrations at Leighton Hall have been a great success right from the start and casual visitors, coach parties and school groups have all enjoyed seeing my birds fly.

 Private falconry experiences have also become a popular attraction here at The Hawk Garden, and 2012 will see for the first time the opportunity for paying guests to help me "feed the chicks", the NEW Bird Of Prey Experience.

 To date The Hawk Garden is going to plan, as all new businesses struggle in the first few years so The Hawk Garden has too, but with the help of a few good friends and my gorgeous new family The Hawk Garden is set to go from strength to strength.

 As the years go by my interest in breeding Birds Of Prey in captivity grows and the process of artificial incubation and hand-rearing fascinates me. To date I have bred six species of bird and hope this may be added to in the coming months. Already my Owls have started laying eggs and its not even New Year yet!

  I am nearly forty years old and as I walk round The Hawk Garden holding my daughters hand I talk and whistle to my birds and we go about feeding them, topping up their water and cleaning out the aviaries.







16 Comment(s)

Toni ...
What a lovely story, gag would be so proud of you.
December 4, 2011 15:12
Jenny ...
Really great to hear your back story! I love that you are sharing and inspiring a new generation ! Xxxx
December 12, 2011 21:12
Julie & Shaun ...
Its so fantastic to see the website finally up and running. Its very professional and the pictures are great, especially the American Kestrels but then again we are biased. We loved your story too ! We are sure the Hawk Garden is going to go from strength to strength and we wish you a successful 2012 and beyond ! See you soon -Julie & Shaun
January 15, 2012 19:01 Website : http://www.thehawkgarden.co.uk
Kim ...
You never stop inspiring me Jim x
July 20, 2012 14:07
christine ...
where are your hawks now i love em would love to see em clive mansfield told me about you jim
July 24, 2012 16:07
Leeanne Nesmejanow ...
Thank you so much for an awesome day yesterday on our family day Hawk experience and we have some great photos and this was a really interesting and fun experience. Thanks from the Sumner & Nesmejanow family x
September 10, 2012 12:09
Mark and Jennie ...
Thank you Jim for a lovely afternoon with you and Peru. Great experience. Mark and Jennie
December 14, 2012 10:12
Angela ...
Thank-you Jim for an absolutely awesome, eye-opening, overwhelmingly beautiful afternoon with Peru, the woods, and with You. Your knowledge and energy are a source of inspiration to all around you. My inner self needed nourishment; you have given me a feast! Thank-you!
February 17, 2013 18:02
Paul Hullock ...
Thanks for a great time yesterday on our 'Hawk-walk' we really enjoyed it and meeting 'Peru' was a beautiful experience for us. Keep up the good work.
January 22, 2014 10:01
Lee ...
Loved reading that uncle jim x
May 31, 2014 10:05
Bob Allison ...
I watched a Sherlock Holmes movie that featured Leighton Hall; found it and Hawk Garden online. I'm in California and know only one falconer who flies a Red Tailed Hawk. Thought you might be interested in our California Condors. A Coopers Hawk comes to our birdbath. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_condor
May 24, 2015 09:05
Enrique ...
I have watched your progress with the birds from day one jim..I have honestly never seen such dedication very proud of you ..please write a book :)..your brother H
January 24, 2019 17:01
Berniece ...
Having traveled far from the stable of his birth, he liked to follow Evening Prayer with "a glass of Dewar's on the rocks, and a Baccarat cigar, with the dogs Sammy I and Sammy II" at his feet "and a cheeseburger from the local diner in his hand."
Lovie ...
That 'Free Solo' movie is a horrendous watch if you've got vertigo or a fear of heights. My hands and feet were tingling beyond belief just watchin HIM climbing! ...What he done is up there with Russian roulette for stupidity. Except 1,000,000% harder. Hats off to him tho nutter
Bernadette ...
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Sallie ...
Rainbow Six: Siege via @YouTube @qwertyJaayy is hilarious!!

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