We’re down in my parents’ house in Wicklow this weekend – a bit of a family
get-together, Lyd and Edu are over from Barcelona, and Duncan & Denise are
down from Carlingford – the occasion being Duncan & Lyd’s birthday. We had
a BBQ, yes in September, and thankfully the Irish weather was kind to us and
the Sun was shining all day – gorgeous. Sorry Glynn & Jayne, wish you were

One of the conversations over lunch was about our respective blogs (we all have one
now, apparently), and everyone was complaining that mine had an almost complete lack
of anything interesting at all right now – they’ve probably got a point. Posts
in my “Off-topic” category have been pretty thin on the ground of late. Actually,
I’m even slipping with the technical ones too – OpenSolaris monthly
posts are late, it’s nearly the end of September, and I haven’t done
August’s yet either. Sorry about that, there’s just not enough hours in the day
at the moment.

So, to appease some of my less technical readers (hi Mum & Dad!) here’s
a post that barely mentions computers. [ suffice to say, that this being
Software Freedom Day,
I’m composing this post on
OpenSolaris 2008.11 nv_98, I used
Exiftool and
Gedit to write it – scarcely
a scrap of proprietary software here, and I like it! Ok, on with the
non-technical content]

Apart from hanging around with the family this weekend, I was down here
for something just as enjoyable. Recently it was a milestone birthday for my
father-in-law, and we had clubbed together to get him a a day out experiencing
falconry, on a Hawk Walk. The voucher was for two people, and as
my mother-in-law isn’t terribly fond of birds, I was invited along.

What a fantastic outing it was! A group of eight of us spent a few hours learning
about the sport of falconry, then got to spend time handing and flying a pair of
Harris hawks in the open, and saw several other large birds-of-prey up close
and very personal.

I brought the camera along, and quickly managed to fill a 1GB CF card – here’s
some of the better shots, but it was a tough choice.

A few emotions strike you when you see one of these birds flying towards the leather
glove you’re wearing in your left hand. Fear initially – it’s all beak & talons
arriving awfully fast, as the bird’s going for the piece of meat you’re holding.
The landing is pretty dramatic too, but then wonder takes over. Close up they’re
absolutely amazing creatures. Surprisingly light too, but then again, they’re
birds, right?

Back at the centre, we got to see a Snowy Owl, some Ferruginous Buzzards,
a pair of Lanner Falcons, and an Eagle Owl and got to bring one of the falcons out
to see how vastly it differs in the air from the hawks we were flying earlier
in the day.

Would I recommend the day out? Absolutely, yes! The guides were friendly and
engaging, informative, and very very passionate about their hobby – a really
fascinating experience, which I’d love to repeat sometime. More over on
Falconry Ireland’s web page
and check out
their Flickr stream