Pupils get wise to the world of owls

WINGING IT: Billy Gray, of Larlkholme Primary School in Fleetwood, with South American burrowing owl Twiggy and Janet Smith from the Turbary Woods Owl and Brid of Prey Sanctuary, of Preston.
WINGING IT: Billy Gray, of Larlkholme Primary School in Fleetwood, with South American burrowing owl Twiggy and Janet Smith from the Turbary Woods Owl and Brid of Prey Sanctuary, of Preston.

A FLEETWOOD school hosted some real high fliers.

Pupils at Larkholme Primary School had an unforgettable experience when they were visited by guests from a bird sanctuary.

The visitors from the Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary in Preston brought some of their birds in for the youngsters to meet.

They were able to see these sharp-beaked hunters close up, feed them, stroke them and even fly them.

Among the feathered friends was a delightful little burrowing owl named Twiggy which would normally be found in South America.

The pupils heard how this bird was the sole survivor from a nest in which the mother, which had been brought to England, had killed her other young after becoming disturbed.

The staff at the sanctuary had taken in the tiny chick, which was close to death, and hand-reared her, keeping the tiny owlet warm with a hot water bottle.

Apart from Twiggy, the other birds included Checkers, the magnificent European Eagle Owl as well as Kissy the kestrel.

Head of infants, Helen Christie said: “The children are concentrating on producing information texts at the moment, which are fact books full of pictures, captions and information written by the children.

“However, they really needed to experience and understand these creatures before they can write about them.

“There really is no substitute for personal experience.

“The chance to fly and hand feed and pet what is basically a wild creature has given them a much deeper understanding and empathy with their subject.

“They will remember this visit for the rest of their lives, it was an absolutely brilliant experience.”

Not only was the visit a highly enjoyable treat, but it has inspired the children’s school work in numerous subjects and projects right across their curriculum.

From non-fictional fact books to poems and stories, it has fired the youngsters’ imaginations.

Turbary Woods Rescue and rehabilitation centre was founded by Andy Bilsborough seven years ago and is home to a unique collection of over 90 birds of prey including eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, vultures and more unusual species.

All the birds are housed in large open-fronted aviaries, sheltered in a woodland setting.

Visitors can experience first hand the breath-taking flight of a falcon.

Hawks, owls, and other varieties are flown at the sanctuary and the public can also gain hands-on experience and knowledge about these fascinating birds.

The sanctuary and rehab centre is based in Whitestake, Lostock Hall, just outside Preston, and organises many school visits.