Today, I travelled the relatively short distance to Stratford Armouries, in Pathlow, just outside Stratford Upon Avon, to visit Steve and Debbie of S&D Falconry. Steve and Debbie say a bit about their business:
“S&D Pest Control Solutions was established in 2009 by us, Stephen and Debbie, initially as a pest control business, specialising in pigeon deterrent work using hawks and falcons mainly undertaking contracts in the Leicester area. Within a couple of months we saw an opportunity to spread our wings(!) and venture into the display side of falconry using our falcons, hawks and owls and S&D Falconry, a subsidiary of S&D Pest Control Solutions was formed.
Starting small at school fetes with our static displays, we have grown over the past year and have become known in the Solihull area since being asked to provide static displays with our falcons, hawks and owls by Solihull Council and the Park Rangers Service as well as other establishments. We have also ventured further afield and have provided a similar service for Councils in the Telford area and other organisations, who have already booked us for events in 2011.
Looking back over the last year, we are amazed at how quickly the business has grown, especially with the display aspect. We are hoping to increase our bookings on the educational side of the business, as we feel that children who would not normally have the opportunity to see these fabulous birds of prey at such close quarters and learn about them, should have this opportunity. With this in mind, half of our present team of falcons, hawks and owls are native species.
There has been quite a lot of interest in our Falconry Courses and Hawk Walks, especially as presents for special occasions such as Christmas, Birthdays and recently a Father’s Day present. This is something that all aspiring falconers who want to experience flying hawks should try and it gives Steve a chance to recount all his falconry tales!”
The company is interested in offering a quality service to schools, to provide positive and exciting learning opportunities in the classroom and this is where I come in! I specialise in writing education materials and we are hoping to work together so I can create a program of activities and experiences that will present numerous learning opportunities within a primary school.
Many schools have visits by an ‘animal man’…. believe me, I have seen lots! These guys are often highly knowledgeable and have some amazing creatures…. what they often lack, however, is an understanding of the primary curriculum and how an experience such as this can impact on a range of subjects. I hate to see an opportunity like this wasted… an hour spent with some great animals, then everyone files back to their classroom and nothing further is followed up (other than perhaps a colouring sheet or wordsearch that was left as a token ‘education pack’). Experiences like this, that can leave such a lasting impression on children and should be viewed as a stimulus and a starting point for a series of activities or lessons. What I hoping to achieve with Steve and Debbie is a tailor made ‘experience’ for both pupils and teachers alike… hands-on , practical activities, including the presence of some of their great birds of prey and lots of ideas and resources to help teachers make the day an integral part of their topic…. from literacy, to science… to numeracy to art!
It was a very windy day today…. no good for flying birds of prey, so we had a walk around the great site where they are based and I had a chance to meet an incredibly obliging barn owl called Molly… and a truly stunning male peregrine falcon called Egan… I couldn’t resist a few photos of him… stormy skies and a bit of winter sunshine helped show him off… what a stunning bird… what child could not be in awe of such a creature and what an amazing stimulus for creative writing…..