Fenland birds of prey centre looks to expand with new purpose-built facilities
- Credit: @a.townsend_photography
Fens Falconry is looking to improve its on-site facilities and accommodate educational visits for schools and community groups.
The birds of prey centre, based in Wisbech St Mary, currently exhibits birds at events and takes them into schools for children to engage with nature and wildlife.
Experience days and photography opportunities are also held at its base in Wisbech St Mary.
Owner Mike Willis says he is ready to take the business to the next stage and has submitted plans for a dedicated classroom block as well as a new purpose-built aviary to house its birds of prey at the site.
He said: “We currently do school visits where we’ll show the children three or four birds. But we don’t have the facilities to accommodate a classroom of children here at Wisbech St Mary.
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“At schools, we can show them the birds, look at what makes up an owl pellet and discuss the importance of ecosystems and looking after the environment. But not all schools have large enough fields for us to fly the birds, and the children really miss out on this.”
He added: “Here, we have the space to show the birds flying, and it would be wonderful to bring classes here.”
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As well as schools, it’s hoped other community groups such as Scouts and Women’s Institute branches would be interested in visiting. Mike also wants to offer more in-depth courses on training and keeping birds of prey.
The planning application, submitted to Fenland District Council, also includes a three-bedroomed house for Mike to live in on-site. The overall project will involve demolishing the current aviary to accommodate the new purpose-built facilities.
Fens Falconry started in 2000 and was initially based in West Walton. In 2013, it moved to Station Road in Wisbech St Mary.
It currently has 32 birds of prey including falcon, kestrel, buzzard, hawk, eagle and owl.
Mike’s longer term vision for the site involves creating a mini-ecosystem and habitats with wild flowers and ponds. Visitors will be able to take part in activities like pond dipping and learn about conservation.
He said: “We want to be able to show adults and children what they can do to help nature and wildlife flourish. Simple things like not cutting the grass can have a massive impact on creatures like insects and bees.”