Our annual Gathering of Eagles started in 2003 and remains exclusive to Elite Falconry.
This event was originally put together as a means by which we could bring many eagle falconers together for exchanges of views, mutual learning and shared eagle flying.
However, more and more people wished to attend and we ended up with as many as 23 eagles together on one day all looking for a flight. In winter the days are short, and ideal flying conditions in the mountains are rare, so often, patience was tested and tempers could flare. We then reduced the numbers able to attend, but still with weather pressures, too often eagles were left too long between hunting opportunities. We thus decided to reduce the size of the event even further and have in attendance only a very few invited falconers and one or two spectating guests. This became your only real chance to come and witness the worlds aerial giants in full action in true eagle country.
In the Grampian Mountains of Glenshee in the heart of winter we fly our eagles like Golden, Verreaux and Tawny eagles, plus Black Chested Buzzard Eagles (Geranoaetus melanoleucus). We look for windward facing hill in a good strong wind. We release the eagle, and she’ll make her pitch (height). This can be several thousands of feet up. We then work the ground below in a bid to flush game for the eagle to hunt in fully natural style. When it all comes together, the spectacle is breathtaking. Probably the most awesome natural sight available.
However, with unpredictable weather, incredibly arduous terrain and altogether harsh work, the option of taking guests out is one we have severely curtailed. Should anybody wish to join us for this event, it must be done only after a direct conversation either on the phone or in person. We need to assess fitness and the potential guests suitability to attend. This is not meant to be condescending in any way. When we take guests out, we must feel they will, and after, that they have, enjoyed their day, but we have days where we can’t fly due to low cloud, mist, rain or driving snow.
It’s not entertaining to just watch the weather from a cold Land Rover. We need to be sure a guest is flexible with time to make sure they can make a day when we’re flying, and that they understand the restrictions, and the physical demands from walking, working and flying in such arduous terrain. In addition, it needs to be understood that we’re not only in very steep, harsh terrain, but that we do not control the weather, and indeed we need good strong winds to get the eagles waiting on well. We also have to remember that wild game is unpredictable in volume and location, so we can not guarantee that where we find lift for the eagles, that we’ll also find quarry. Guests also need to be ready for a very testing Land Rover ride!
For those who do attend, after the adventure of a trip up the glen to 3,500 feet in the Land Rovers (snow depth allowing), you will see the birds being prepared. The eagle is then released into the wind whereupon it begins its climb on the wind for height. As her vast wingspan disappears to a speck, we walk out over the heather in a bid to flush white hares, when we do, you will be awestruck by the sight, sound and speed of this giant bird as she crashes to ground in pursuit of her quarry. Your dram back at the lodge is well earned.
We have retained an eagle experience for those who wish to work with eagles, but either do not wish to hunt intensively, or feel the Grampian Trip is perhaps beyond their current level of fitness. At the centre here you’ll start with one of the smaller eagles, learning to understand their demands of weather, topography and prey, then through the day, you’ll build in the size of eagle until at the end of the day we’ll be out with a Golden Eagle (Aquila Chrysaetous). This is a winter activity and species flown and where we end up flying will vary according to weather etc, but all movements will be completed in our specially prepared Land Rover Defenders.
If you purchase and eagle experience voucher online, it will be for the day out here in Fife, not in the Grampians. Bookings for that must be done by telephone or in person only.
Upgrade Your Experience!
Currently we have two parts to our upgrades to supercharge your experience.
Video Upgrade Package
We can fit an eagle on any of those days, with a full HD, on board, back pack mounted video camera. We have used this equipment, developed here at Elite Falconry, on national TV shows like The One Show and BBC TV’s groundbreaking Winterwatch shows. In superb full HD quality, the eagle will record his or her view of the location we are flying from their point of view. That will include you on the ground, and the view as seen by the bird as it returns to your gloved fist. The footage can be reviewed on the day of your experience, and once edited, will be made available for you to keep.
Technical Upgrade Package
Our technical upgrade option is a great one for those lovers of data, statistics and technology. Our birds can now carry tiny transmitters that relay live, real time data on how high it is relative to us on the ground, how fast it is flying or stooping, or even how fast it is climbing on the wind or a thermal. With the speed and altitude data in hand, you can even calculate the G forces experienced when the bird throws the brakes on!
More than this, the data is sent to a hand held tablet device, which is pre loaded with a Google earth map of the land we are flying over. The data is over laid onto the map with a constant trace of its flight path left on the map. As it flies over a rock or wood, you see the wood or rock on the map and the trace of the bird as it passes. It is spectacular technology and offers an insight into what is going on in a birds life in the air, the likes of which that have never been possible before.