An evening with owls at Rosliston Forestry Centre

I'll start this out with a brag - I have the best boyfriend who surprises me with really great gifts! An email popped into my inbox with the headline "I hope you like owls" - which I do, so I was instantly intrigued. It turns out he had bought us tickets to an evening with owls at the Rosliston Forestry Centre, and it was so much fun! 

An evening with owls

It is literally what it sounds like - hanging out with and learning about the falconers favourite feathery friends and seeing them fly. We were in a group of about two dozen people, and were led down to a building where they did the display. We sat in a row on the sides of the building and were handed a glove for holding the owls (some of them have pretty big talons!). We met five different owls, some of them did flying displays and others were too young, too small or too big to fly so we got to hold, stroke and admire them. They are very photogenic too - I got tons of photos which I hope you like :)

The owls we met

The smallest and the cutest owl was wee little Stella, a Little Owl (the names only get more imaginative haha). Have you seen the video on Facebook of the little owl loving getting head pats? This happened in real life! She was teeny tiny, and absolutely gorgeous. It surprising how emotive owls can be, and the love between them and their carers is so obvious. 

Stella the Little Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Stella the Little Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Stella the Little Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Stella the Little Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls

Isn't she just the cutest? I fell in love with her completely. Next up were Alan and Ana, a pair of tawny/barn owls. I got very excited when I saw Alan, because he reminded me of Hedwig (and yes, I did splutter this out in front of everyone and prove how much of a Harry Potter nerd I am...) and Ana was a very pretty young owl and it was her first time in a display. We were able to have Alan fly across the room and land on our outstretched gloves, and then launch from the glove to the next person. It was magical, and he flew almost silently! It was really interesting to learn about the owls different physical traits and how they would use them in the wild too, such as why some have different colored eyes and face shapes. 

The heat shaped disc on their face captures sound, and they can hear a mouse’s heartbeat from twenty feet above in the treetops.
Alan the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Alan the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Ana the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Alan the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Alan the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Ana the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Ana the Barn Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
The colour of their eyes indicate whether they are nocturnal, diurnal or crepuscular. This means they are either active at night, day or only at dusk and dawn. Nocturnal owls have black eyes, diurnal owls have yellow eyes and crepuscular owls have orange eyes.

Tawny Owls are known as Screech Owls too - and if Alan is anything to go by - they earn their name! The display was quite comical and well as educational, especially with Alan being disobedient and Ana taking well timed selfies! Richard, the young guy who was taking the show, introduced us next to his favorite bird - Gomez, the Mexican Striped Owl. He was starting to moult so was suitable ruffled and grumpy looking, but he was a delight. Following him was a very large and stunning European Eagle Owl by the name of Karl. And although Karl was big, he was a softie. After a surprise at not being allowed to fly (He's simply too big for the display room, and his talons could accidentally do some damage if he perched on somebody who wasn't prepared) he was flapping around trying to get back onto his perch and once up promptly snuggled into Richard's shirt and hid his face, Way too cute! We were invited to stay on at the end and hold him ourselves, and stroke him. It is a very special experience being so close to such a large bird of prey and having them stare into your eyes from only centimetres away. 

Gomez the Mexican Striped Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Gomez the Mexican Striped Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Karl the European Eagle Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Karl the European Eagle Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls, hugging an owl, owl cuddles
Karl the European Eagle Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
Karl the European Eagle Owl, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Evening with Owls
The tufts above their heads are indicators of their moods, and have nothing to do with their hearing!

I have to giggle at the photo of myself and Karl, he looks so highly offended that he is being forced to mingle with the commonfolk! But I enjoyed our cuddle, even if he didn't. I would highly recommend a trip to see these beautiful owls, and to learn about their incredible lives. You can do this by booking through their website and check them out on tripadvisor as well (I have left them a nice review too). The evenings with owls sessions run on select Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it's worth the scenic drive. For the romantics - they hold wedding ceremonies in the glade nearby, and you can have an owl as your ringbearer! There is also a cafe open during the day, plus other facilities available too. 

I think owls are my new favourite animal! Thank you to Richard and Dalton for hosting us, and for making it such an enjoyable night. Also, for providing such a warm and clearly loving environment for the birds - the connection between the birds and their carers was incredibly heartwarming!