Falconry, the traditional sport of kings, is alive and well in the countryside of Denbighshire

Ben Leece with 'O Buddy' a 2 years old male Gyr/Saker

Ben Leece with 'O Buddy' a 2 years old male Gyr/Saker - Credit: Archant

A young North Wales man has converted his falconry hobby into a business and the sky is now the limit.

For just over a year Ben Leece, 19, who lives on the outskirts of Llanrheadr, near Denbigh, has been running North Wales Falconry and he is now finding that his determination is beginning to pay off.

Ben, a local man born and bred and attending Ruthin Schools, was introduced to the art of falconry from a very early age.

He said: ‘My Dad, Ray, used to hunt with Harris Hawks so I was brought up with birds and at the age of seven I had my first Harris Hawk and my interest just grew from there. I used to hunt with my Hawk for rabbits, pheasants and pigeons and I really enjoyed it.

‘I used to come home from school and let them fly and make sure they were clean and cared for. So when I left school and the opportunity came up for me to spend three months work experience at the Welsh Hawking Centre in Barry, Glamorgan, I jumped at the chance.

‘I loved it so much I stayed for 12 months’ It was a voluntary role but they paid me in birds and I was able to come back home and start my own business. While I was there I gained experience in giving falconry demonstrations and dealing with the public. After a while I was actually running “experience days” for people visiting and local schools. It was great and gave me the confidence to come back home and set up on my own.’

Ben started North Wales Falconry with only five birds and now 10 months later he has a total of 15 which include a Peregrine Falcon, a Kestral, a Harris Hawk and a Barn Owl.

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For the last couple of months he has been extremely busy as it takes about 12 hours every day to fly all the birds and keep the bird area clean and he also has a part time job to help supplement his income.

‘We had a quiet Spring but since then I have had lots of inquiries and I was at Woodfest in St Asaph this year and will be there in 2014. I have also taken some birds to local schools, including the Queen’s School, Chester. and done some static displays for Denbighshire County Council.

‘I regularly get asked to host experience days either as birthday presents or for a corporate event. Falconry is a great team-building sport as well and I really enjoy the educational side as well and sharing the background about falconry and its origins.

‘Fortunately we have plenty of space where I live and I can invite groups up here, if it is not suitable to take the birds to them and allow people to watch the birds flying, perhaps handle them and see where they spend their time when not flying.

‘I am fairly unique really because I tend to offer everything from birthday parties to demonstrations and even filming. It did start as a hobby but is fast becoming my full-time business.’

North Wales Falconry is not open to the public. It is very much a bespoke business but with his team of birds, Ben offers a range of activities including children’s parties, displays at weddings and corporate events, photography and art sessions.

Ben is planning to teach Merlin, a young British Bird, to fly through his legs and to get his Kestrel, the only bird which can truly hover, to do so as part of his display.

In the future, Ben wants to breed some birds and sell off the babies and keep adding to his demonstration repertoire.

For more information about North Wales Falconry visit Ben’s website: www.northwalesfalconry.co.uk or contact Ben on 07908804107/ email info@northwalesfalconry.co.uk.