Wonder what it's really like to fly? Watch this eagle-eye view over Scotland

By Breda Graham
Digital Journalist

Ever wondered what the view from above our rolling green fields and gem-blue waters is really like?

Well, now you can see for yourself with this stunning eagle-eye view over Ayrshire in Scotland, captured by Elite Falconry's White-tailed eagle, Marra.

Marra captures perfectly what we have all, from early childhood, ever wanted to know - what it is really like to fly.

The footage showcases the picturesque views from above the surrounding area of Ayrshire and includes the charming grounds of Glenapp Castle which is well known for being steeped in history.

The Glenapp Estate, which was established under the ownership of the Earl of Orkney, when the industrialist, James Hunter, acquired it and commissioned Edinburgh architect, David Bryce, to design a suitably magnificent home in 1870.

Bryce designed Glenapp Estate with the Scottish Baronial style in mind and to this day the combination of the fairytale-like Gothic and Renaissance design is evident and can be seen from Marra's footage from the sky.

Glenapp Castle is not the only familiar landmark in the footage. If you really focus, you can almost make out the hills of Northern Ireland from across the pond.

Video courtesy of Elite Falconry.

In order to capture the footage, Marra carried with her a tiny micro HD video camera and rig which was built specially for her.

Barry Blyther of Elite Falconry told the Irish Examiner:

"White Tail Sea Eagles are massive birds. Marra's wingspan is 7 feet 8 inches. That means that carrying the tiny micro HD video camera and rig we built for her is utterly irrelevant. She doesn't even acknowledge it.

That means that she flies entirely naturally while she carries it, allowing us to see into her private aerial world. Being able to then take this footage to TV for Natural History shows allows us to help educate people about these birds that only now exist in Scotland and a few in Ireland because of reintroductions that were necessary after humans persecuted them to extinction here.

Marra also flies with her guests, such as that at Glenapp Castle, as can be seen from the video, which is a special keepsake for everyone involved.

"What's just as nice is being able to fly her with her guests at locations like Glenapp Castle in the video, and have the guests be able to have the video of their day, as recorded by the eagle, to take home as a lifelong memory of their day," Mr Blyther said.

Marra is just one of Elite Falconry's many amazing birds, including the Golden Eagle, Great Grey Owl, Lanner Falcon, Verreaux Eagle, and Kestrel, which guests have the opportunity to meet during the company's pre-booked experience days.

The Kestrel, in particular, is familiar to most as "a blur of wings hovering beside a road or field edge as it searches for its rodent prey" and has unfortunately been in steep decline in recent years.

A close-up of Elite Falconry's Kestrel, Mito, shows us exactly what this bird is doing to maintain its incredible hover.

Working with Mito, the trained Kestrel at Elite Falconry, allows us to see the amount of work they are doing to maintain that incredible hover, especially when we can slow it right down as we have here.

"As a species in steep decline in recent years, it's great to be able to do some good PR for them," Mr Blyther said.

Video courtesy of Elite Falconry.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner about Elite Falconry's ethos, Mr Blyther said:

"Elite Falconry has a traditionalist ethos staunchly rooted in the 4000-year history of falconry. We don't get hung up on tradition at the expense of progress though, and enjoy life working with the cutting edge technology that allows us to bring new knowledge and understanding of these magnificent birds.

Micro HD and 4k cameras to real-time GPS giving us information on height, speed, climb and stoop speeds all have a place at Elite Falconry, and we strive to bring fun and educational experiences to our clients, whether it be a private event at a castle, or a national show.

At Elite Falconry, the variety of work can be huge with particular tasks changing from day to day.

"One day we'll be flying birds at the Open Golf using hawks to keep gulls of visitors lunch, and the next we'll be working to help develop radar technology to allow a radar station tell the difference between an eagle, a flock of starlings and a drone, and the next we'll be on top of a mountain filming for global TV.

Falconry is a magnificently diverse and fascinating topic and pastime and sharing it with guests while sharing time with these amazing predators is a supreme privilege.

White Tail Sea Eagle facts

Known as the flying barn door because of their huge wingspan, White Tail Sea Eagles are the largest birds of prey in the British Isles, and one of only two species we have, the other being the equally magnificent Golden Eagle.

They can tolerate each other quite close by, one being a predator of fish and waterfowl, the other (Golden Eagle) being a hunter of land mammals.

If they do squabble, the size of the White Tail means nothing, as the Golden Eagle, despite being smaller, is massively more powerful and will put the White Tail firmly in its place.

Kestrel facts

Kestrels track the location of mice by following urine trails.

Urine reflects ultraviolet light, and kestrels see into the UV ‎range and use it to find likely places to find mice or other rodents.

Visit the Elite Falconry website to pre-book an experience day.

- Digital Desk

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