Temperature : minus two & falling
Earth : hard as iron
Water : like a stone
Good conditions for hunting ? You bet your ass.
We in the UK have a particularly morbid way to celebrate the birth of Christ around this time of year. The tradition comes in many forms but always involves inflicting pain on small animals. The Boxing Day Hunt leaves from the grounds of Ludlow castle at midday to huge cheers from an adoring crowd. Red-coated gentry mount their steeds and charge off into the fields to do battle with crafty mr. Fox. At the same time teams of barber-coated huntsmen trawl through the damp forests armed with double-barrelled shotguns. They are preceeded by a crowd of "beaters" whose sole purpose is to disturb pheasants from their slumber so that they can be shot (that's pheasants with an "h" mind - we're not completely stuck in the dark ages here !).
There has been much debate over the ethics and legality of hunting over the last couple of years in the UK, which eventually led to hunting with dogs being banned back in February last year. An argument in favour of hunting is that it makes the connection between eating meat and the death of an animal. A hunter will say "yum yum - I need to eat so I hunt - it is my most basic right". To which I absolutely agree. But there comes a point where it's clear people are doing it just for fun - a local shoot in Shrophire has to hire a JCB each new year to bury the mounds of pheasant (with an "h") carcasses.
There is a point to this rambling and it is this : whilst others practise their hunting method of choice the family Lewis decided to try something a little different this year and so headed deep into the Shropshire hills armed only with ... hawks. Yes - hawks. Harris hawks to be precise and there's a picture of one below. He's called Mo. See how fearless I am when face to face with such a lethal killing machine. See how wonderful it is to see man living so seamlessly with nature. Aaaah. Mmmmm. I won't mention that Mo actually fell off my hand after the picture was taken. Actually fell off ! I didn't even know that birds fell over !
They called me Captain Fearless by the end of the day
Sister Camilla also showed little sign of fear
Mmm. Need more turkey.
Mum, Camilla and me
A studious Lewis Christmas
The indominable figure of Billy Wright watches over the Wolves ground
Come on the Wolves !
(additional addendum - domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground. Imagine that !!! That is a really wild turkey !!!)