Where eagles dare! Expert falconer brings birds of prey to Hatfield

Ben Potter with Camilla the Stellar's sea eagle

Ben Potter with Camilla the Stellar's sea eagle

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One of the world's largest eagle species is set to fly high at The Game Fair in Hatfield.

CJ's Birds of Prey, Charlotte with female Perguine Falcon 'Twisted Sister' and John with Chilean Blue Eagle' Blue' at The Game Fair 2017 at Hatfield House. Picture: Andrew CrowleyCJ's Birds of Prey, Charlotte with female Perguine Falcon 'Twisted Sister' and John with Chilean Blue Eagle' Blue' at The Game Fair 2017 at Hatfield House. Picture: Andrew Crowley

Expert falconer Ben Potter will be bringing his Steller's sea eagles to fly over the crowds at The Game Fair's dedicated Falconry Arena after being announced as one of this year's big headliners.

Birds of prey Camilla and Rupert will perform a demonstration at the heart of the Falconry Village when the festival of the great British countryside returns to Hatfield House from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28.

A relative of the bald eagle that breeds only on the eastern coast of Russia, the Steller's sea eagle is characterised by a large yellow beak, distinctive black and white plumage, and a wing span of up to eight feet.

Ben's female, Camilla, is a whopping 18lbs, with Rupert weighing in at a mighty 15lbs.

Ben will also be bringing Barry the bald eagle, Thelma the hooded vulture, Arthur the red-list endangered white-headed vulture, and Dyson the white-backed vulture, the most recent addition to his flock, among other huge birds to perform awe-inspiring aerial demonstrations in Hatfield.

A falconer since the age of 14, Ben travels the length and breadth of the country wowing crowds with his displays.

He also runs his own breeding and conservation programme.

"I now have more than 30 full-trained trained birds which are all free flown every day for nine months of the year, regardless of the weather conditions," he explained.

"I am quite unusual for a falconer in that I like to draw attention to the natural behaviour of our magnificent birds and show them doing what they do best - flying free.

"I'm looking forward to doing that at The Game Fair, the biggest countryside show of them all."

Ben and his birds of prey will appear on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Overall, more than 80 birds of prey will be on display at the Falconry Village, which is sponsored this year by the Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition (S'hail) and organised by CJ's Birds of Prey.

The daughter and father combination of Charlotte Hill and dad John are experts at giving an insight into the awe-inspiring world of falconry.

Charlotte said: "We want the Falconry Village this year to be for beginners who want to get into falconry but don't know where to start.

"The Game Fair will be the perfect place to find a local club, find a mentor and browse the very best equipment.

"Doing all of that online is just not the same and is not as reliable as doing it face-to-face.

"Our education tent will be interactive and fun for all ages."

Charlotte added: "Falconry Club members can bring their birds along for the experience, as long as they register in advance.

"If you have a new or young bird, it is an amazing opportunity.

"But the Falconry Village won't just be for falconers. It's for anyone with an interest in birds.

"The Falconry Village really is the perfect place to see a huge array of majestic birds up close."

Starting each day at 10am, with an opening ceremony parade of a selection of birds of prey in the Falconry Arena, the three-day timetable is packed with exciting demonstrations.

Charlotte herself will be offering a handling experience for children and adults at 11.30am each morning.

● Tickets for The Game Fair 2019 are on sale at www.thegamefair.org or 0844 8586759.

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