I recently went on a photography day at the York Bird of Prey Centre in Huby, near York. This is a fantastic place to photograph birds of prey up close. They have 45 different species, and over 80 birds in total¹. Most of them are not behind cages, allowing you to get some great portrait shots without any wires or fences in the way. There are signs introducing you to each of the birds, so you know what you are photographing.
The staff are extremely helpful and clearly passionate about the birds. They are always willing to explain anything to you. This is also a very interactive place to visit and you can hold some of the birds yourself. Holding an eagle, hawk or owl is amazing!
No long lenses are needed for any of the portrait shots, as the birds are just a few feet from you. I spent most of the day with my 100mm macro lens on. You can therefore get some very detailed close ups.
They do flying displays each day and will fly a variety of birds (depending on weather). A longer lens might be needed for some of the flying shots, but most of my photos were again taken with the 100mm lens. If you want, you can also join in the display and have a giant eagle landing on your arm!
On my visit, we were treated to a flying display by a number of owls, eagles and hawks. I loved the eagle owl flying in between people and perching alongside you on the benches. We also witnessed the first full flight by one of the eagles, which was a pleasure to watch:
They also flew a Lanner Falcon and Peregrine Falcon at the same time. The challenge was to get them both in the same frame (and in focus). I failed on that front, but got some good shots of the Lanner Falcon. The peregrine was just too quick for me!
You do not need to visit on a specific photography day to take some great photos at the York Bird of Prey Centre. I would recommend coming here at any time for some fantastic bird of prey photography.
Here are some of the (many, many) photos I took on my visit (click on an image to enlarge):
|Approximate post code (for sat nav)||YO61 1JB|
|Directions||The York Bird of Prey Centre is located behind the Best Western Burn Hall Hotel. You need to go into the hotel car park, drive past the hotel entrance and turn right into the car park down the side of the hotel.|
|Parking||There is free parking. There is an admission charge for the centre|
This is the location of the York Bird of Prey Centre:
Notes for next time
- Try the flying shots with a smaller aperture to get more in focus
- A bright cloudy day would be better for contrast (it was a very sunny day when I visited)
¹ York Bird of Prey website, About the centre, http://www.yorkbirdofprey.co.uk/content/about.html [accessed 21 September 2016]