Bad weather forecast?
It happens. We are in Scotland, after all, where the weather can be unpredictable, even in the summer. However, we are in the East Neuk of Fife, the driest and sunniest of Scotland's regions - with more sunshine hours each year than London - so we have rarely had to cancel a pre-booked experience. But it does happen. (Today was horrible!) But this post will explain what we do if the weather isn't good when you are booked to come to us for an experience. Firstly, a little about bird behaviour...
Birds of prey are creatures of the outdoors, of course, and, in nature, they have to endure all kinds of weather. Scotland doesn't really experience extremes in temperature so our team of falcons, hawks and owls doesn't have much to worry about in that regard. The falcons are probably the most adaptable, due to their shape and the structure of their feathers, but the looser-feathered Harris hawks do like it hot while our large Eagle owls are happier in cooler conditions. However, what they all prefer is dry weather!
In very wet or very windy weather, like all raptors, our birds prefer to be in a sheltered spot and to wait it out until the bad weather has passed. For wild birds, shelter might mean the leafy branch of a tree, the eaves of an outbuilding or under an overhanging rock out on the hill. For our birds, it means being in their 'mews', the traditional housing for a falconer's birds.
Birds of prey fly to hunt, essentially, so - as long as they are not too hungry - they are quite happy sitting still and can spend many hours a day not doing very much else, especially in bad weather! When the weather's particualrly wet or windy - meaning more than just a shower or light rain - we know our birds are going to be reluctant to be out in it and they certainly won't want to fly for as long as we and you would like for your experience. That's when we'll try to find a better solution for you.
Finding a solution for you
For your booking with The Scottish Countryman, our priority is always your enjoyment and our birds' well-being. We keep a careful eye on the weather forecast for nearby Crail and the rest of Fife and, if we feel the weather is not going to offer the best experience for you or for the birds, Steve the falconer will get in touch with you to discuss it. We typically offer the following options:
keep the day but change the time of your experience
change the experience to another day that suits you
issue a voucher for the experience so that you can use it any time within the next 12 months
issue a voucher that you can then gift to another person who can come if you can't.
In the past, we've also leant our guests waterproof coats and boots and held an indoor version of the experience when it was a once-only option. But, thankfully, that's rare and in two years at our current site we have only ever had to postpone an experience 5 times but only once not managed to reschedule it at all (for holiday makers with no time left before they returned to the USA). Not a bad record for a Scottish outdoor-activity business!
I hope this gives you more confidence about booking your falconry experience with The Scottish Countryman. We may not be able to ensure perfect weather for your hawk, owl or bird of prey experience but we can ensure you have the best possible experience by being flexible when the weather means we need to be - for you and for our birds!
Today's booked guests have been postponed to another day and we look forward to welcoming them in much better weather, hopefully very soon.