19 May 2000

Sea & sanctuary in Isle of Wight

HOW a little sunshine puts us in a holiday mood, which is how I felt when I landed by hovercraft at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

I was met by contact leader Sheila Brownrigg and whisked away to meet the rest of the club members at the Owl and Falcon Sanctuary at Appuldercombe Farm, Wroxall.

This diversification is run by the Owen family alongside their dairy farm and we were greeted by FWC member Jane Owen and served coffee in the newly-converted tea room.

We saw Vivian, an African sea eagle, and then 10-month-old Jack, a cross-bred falcon, gave a magnificent flying display aided by Wesley Moon his trainer.

The bird swooped and soared above our heads as the lure was spun around in front of us and Jack was rewarded with a tasty morsel at the end of his display.

Robbie, the next falcon to come out to show off in front of us flew one round of honour and then perched up in a tree – its true what they say: never perform with animals or children. I am sure Wesley will have got him down by now as he has more patience than I who would have been tempted to wring the birds neck!

Jane then took us down to see Appuldercombe House, a fine shell of a building which has the most amazing view across to the sea and is now a popular venue for weddings and productions of outdoor theatre.

My whistlestop tour ended back at Ryde but not before a quick tour of Godshill, a must for tourists and locals alike.

Jean Howells

Dan Cooke and Vivian.