Words from our winners: Grant and Sharon at Wingspan

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Sharon Wright

It was a cold autumn Saturday morning when we ventured up the Ngongotaha Valley to the Wingspan conservation project. Visiting Wingspan had been on our ‘bucket list’ for some time, and winning tickets through MCD magazine to go to this enterprise helped to facilitate this.

We were first met at the base of the footpath by Debbie, who gave us both the proverbial health and safety lecture which she explained was necessary because the project was still under development. We were among the first to arrive for the 11.30am session.

Even though we had no idea how many would be there, we were amazed as the shed/shop, in which the initial educational tutoring was done, filled to capacity.

We were entertained by the antics of a young owl while we were informed about the purpose of Wingspan, and were impressed at the staff’s dedication and passion for saving the lives and fostering the understanding of the New Zealand falcon and other raptors.

Following this, we went outside to witness first-hand how they were training young captive bred falcons to hunt for food so that they could ultimately be released in the wild at various locations around New Zealand.

We would highly recommend to anyone a visit to Wingspan; you will come away enlightened on the challenges facing some of our native falcons and others, and also know that your attendance has helped an amazing conservation project which gets no government and local council financial assistance.

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Noel Hyde, falconer for 40 years, introduces Avy at one of Wingspan’s progressive sessions

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