|Abbey Sailing Club July 2009|
On Thursday 9 July the venue was the Abbey Sailing Club on Wilsham Road at Abingdon, right next to the Thames of course and about half a mile up stream of Jubilee Junction. The theme was a barbecue with a guest, Colin ‘Geordie', who brought a kestrel and a young (11 week old) eagle owl named. He trains them to be obedient and docile to provide companionship for disabled people. It is quite possible to fly them to a lure from a wheelchair for example.
It proved to be quite a raptor (bird of prey) evening. The members of the sailing club had said there was a bird of prey nesting nearby and, dead on cue, a female kestrel appeared perched on the top of a boat mast to see who was on her territory. Not long after a barn owl was seen hunting in the field on the other side of the Thames.
The eagle owl proved to be very docile. His parents had been chosen after three years of research to produce a gentle offspring. Several people held him on a gloved hand by the jesses (leather thongs attached to his foot) and I had the privilege of the last session when he obviously enjoyed having his chest stroked and responded by a gentle nibble of my fingers. At one point his huge golden eyes closed for a brief sleep but mostly he was very alert and particularly interested in the gulls flying over head. The 180 degree head swivel was frequently demonstrated.
Only ten people came along which was disappointing, the weather was slightly overcast which might have deterred some but all fed well and had the benefit of the very competitively priced real ale. The meeting was the usual joint one with the East Vale Branch which provides a variety in the venue. Our thanks to the Abbey Sailing Club for the use of their clubhouse which is next door to the Abingdon Rowing Club who use the Jubilee Junction section, named the White Horse Cut, for training purposes away from the river traffic. They recently received an Awards for All grant for new canoes.