Taiga, Taiga, Burning Brighter ...

Taiga, Taiga, Burning Brighter ...and yes this is the correct spelling!

Regular readers of the S.O.S. Blog will remember the story of Taiga's arrival at the end of the summer, writes our Warden, Juli Finnis.. (Those of you new to the Blog can look back at the previous story dated 6th September)

Today (Saturday 13th October) Taiga went solo - that is, he had his maiden free flight.

He is certainly going to be a huge star in the future. He has been a delight to train and has taken to the air like a true professional. Training begins with him getting used to the falconer's glove being his dinner plate. Once he feels happy and secure we ask him to step up to the glove to collect his food and then to jump about a foot for it. The next stage is to attach a training line which has a fancy french name. It's called a 'creance' and is 25m of light-weight nylon line attached to a weighted wooden stick at one end. The free end can then be tied to the swivel at the end of the bird's leather jesses. This allows you to gradually increase the distance the bird has to travel to collect his meal whilst still being able to prevent him taking to the skies and disappearing over the horizon. Once he is responding immediately to the food on the glove at the full length of the creance line it is time to remove the line and let him fly free.

Taiga has taken the short route to free flight. His first day on a creance line was thursday. After a couple of false starts where he wobbled on the edge of the fence like a tight rope walker trying to keep his balance he summoned up the courage to let go of the fence and fly to the glove - unfortunately, he misjudged the distance and flew six foot above my head before returning to the fence. However, he quickly got the hang of the whole process and by yesterday was quite happily flying the full length of the line. (With some birds this might take a week with increasing the distance just a little each day). So today was his big day and not only has he flown free but has moved around the perches on the flying ground like a natural.

Keep watching out for news of him from time to time - with his stunning looks he's certainly destined to be a big star.