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★★☆☆☆

“Bad Experience...”

Written on: 31/01/2012

The good:

- The opportunity to see an average (not great) variety of different raptor (birds of prey) species ranging from tiny owls to a couple of large eagles and vultures for a fair price of £5.

The bad:

- Absolutely awful facilities for both the birds and visitors (notes about the 'cafe' and toliets are documented accurately in previous reviews); the place looks like a run-down farm yard with many of the enclosures in desparate need of cleaning and repair (I felt forlorn for the birds).
- Many of the birds are off display to the public for various purposes (i.e. breeding) which is fair enough, but ultimately no good for the paying visitor.

I attended a £450 five-day Lantra course in falconry at this facility with an instructor called Griff Griffiths. Although friendly and mildly informative, the quality of the tutition was poor. Most of the content I learnt was due to textbooks which were dumped on me as a teaching substitute while Griff sloped off to do something more important (like have a cigarette and a cup of coffee or go on 'Facebook') while I was filling out sections of the course workbook. As well as this, I was informed that we would be handling birds from the afternoon of day 2 (i.e. Tuesday).In the end the only meaningful time I actually got with a bird was briefly on the afternoon of day 4 (i.e. Thursday) and for the actual exam on the afternoon of day 5 (i.e. Friday). Griff also frequently lost his patience during the limited practical exercises we did (making no effort to conceal it) which was completely inappropriate - teaching requires patience as no tutee is an expert and if you can't appreciate this you shouldn't be teaching anything. Furthermore, I feel that asking the tutee who is learning about bird of prey husbandry to clean a housing as a teaching exercise is fair and guided. However, to ask them to rake out an entire block of muses every day while claiming it falls under the course parameters because the instructor/owner would rather not do it themselves is taking an insulting liberty - especially when the tutee is paying £450.

Overall the Wales Hawking Centre is a poor quality, poor excuse for a tourist attraction. There are plenty of other bird of prey centers across the UK of which are ten times better in terms of quality, cleanliness, facilities and range of species; but AVOID THIS PLACE AT ALL COSTS!