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LANTRA Begining Falconry

Welcome to the LANTRA Education pages, which aim to set out the LANTRA/Hawk Board Bird of Prey Keeping Award’s links with the BFC.

We are very much in our infancy as far as the Award is concerned, and there is a long way to go before it is fully established as a major positive within the British falconry community, but hopefully the BFC will continue to lead the way as a principal supporter of, and force behind, this qualification.

The Club takes this qualification seriously and now insists that all new members  gain the Award within 12 months of joining.  This is to ensure that future generations of falconers will be versed in the best standards of raptor management from their earliest days in the sport.

We are now ensuring all of our regions have fully qualified and suitably experienced assessors in place to offer members the best advice, guidance and indeed value where working towards the qualification is concerned. Please check back regularly to keep abreast of developments.

With more people than ever before becoming interested in keeping raptors as well as falconry, leading to many taking on hawk ownership without much idea of what is really involved, this award has come at a good time.  Despite the efforts of falconers to guide people in the right path, there is, in principle, nothing stopping anyone buying a hawk but the integrity of the vendor.

For this reason, the Hawk Board, in conjunction with LANTRA, the awarding body which offers training and qualifications to the land-based sector, has devised the Bird of Prey Keeping Award. It is vital that all falconers with an interest in the preservation of both our sport and its reputation – and that should be all of us – support it with more than just words.

We must now be seen to be participants in a pursuit which is not only an ancient and culturally valuable one, not just a fair and honourable one, but a sustainable one which is both ecologically sound, having minimal environmental impact, and one that is self regulating, being governed internally by the highest standards of welfare for hawks, companion animals and the quarry we pursue.

After a great deal of hard work by the Hawk Board’s Education Working Group and LANTRA representatives, aided by a number of falconers – principal amongst them members of the BFC – and much revision after feedback from the falconry community, the award is now up and running effectively. We have Assessors, and External Verifiers, in place, and it is now incumbent on all of us to support it. We hope that newcomers to the Club and sport will gain from taking the award, and more established members will join us in taking this – and falconry’s future – forward.

The LANTRA Award is split into two units.

Unit One covers Bird of Prey Management and Husbandry, including housing; hygiene; food and food preparation; health; species suitability and purchasing your first hawk.

Unit Two deals with Falconry Basics, covering essential falconry equipment; picking up and carrying; feeding, manning and initial training techniques, weighing and weight management and flying to the fist on a creance.

It is thus immediately evident that this only goes as far as taking a hawk to the point of flying free. Basic stuff, perhaps, but the very areas where most newcomers to bird of prey management fall down. For the more experienced falconer it should all be familiar territory and easy to evidence – there’s therefore no reason not to do so!

The Candidate, The Assessor and Evidence

It may be worth a look at the “nuts and bolts” of the Award – how a candidate proves they are competent. In the first instance, it is up to the candidate to do the hard work: in order to gain the qualification, there are a number of key areas in which they need to demonstrate knowledge and/or skill. The actual Award is a means of assessing competence – it does not offer a “course” in its own right.

How candidates gain knowledge and skill may vary – they may read books, discuss things with more experienced practitioners, watch video/DVD material or, of course, through direct practical experience, either through a course or via a mentor. Similarly, they might demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a number of ways to the assessor. These might include:

  • Short written answers in the candidate workbook
  • Longer, more detailed written answers as supplementary evidence
  • Additional documentary evidence – material (preferably annotated) from the internet; falconry furniture/food suppliers’ literature
  • Oral discussion with the assessor – in which case the assessor should make a record of the discussion
  • Witness testimony – a signed statement from another falconer to certify that the assessor is competent in a particular area
  • Sketches or diagrams (e.g. for showing suitable housing for hawks)
  • Photographic evidence
  • Video or voice recording of practical tasks (e.g. of weighing, flying on a creance etc)

It is a well established fact that everyone learns in a different way – some are more practical, others more visual, etc. The Award has the scope for everyone to both learn and demonstrate competence in a manner that suits their own learning style: as a dyslexia support tutor in a professional capacity, I am happy to see that any candidates who struggle with reading and/or writing should be perfectly capable of getting the award without recourse to either if necessary.

Of course, some competencies must be demonstrated by the assessor observing them actually carrying out the relevant task. These are identified in the log book – for instance, a candidate must show that they can safely and securely fly a hawk on a creance, weigh a hawk safely and accurately, etc. Even where this is the case, there is nothing wrong with a candidate backing this up with additional evidence if desired.

The role of the assessor may, with some justification, be compared to the role of a police officer. We would hope that no police officer would just grab a likely looking suspect off the street without justification then try to pin a crime on them without solid evidence to prove, or at least suggest beyond reasonable doubt, that they are guilty. In the same way, just because someone looks and talks like a falconer, or even because they have a long “record,” the assessor should not take it for granted that he/she knows what they are doing. The analogy ends here, however, as the candidate wants to be found “guilty” and convicted! Unlike the suspect in custody, the candidate will want to make the investigating officer’s life as easy as possible.

The assessor must be certain that the candidate is fully proficient in each of the competencies to be assessed. Whilst, as yet, the award does not go this far, let us use a somewhat tongue in cheek example. We’ve all heard those tales about “the best flight ever” – the one which gets longer and more dramatic with each retelling. Now if our falconer had to prove that his hawk took a partridge in fair flight after a 200 yard pursuit to an assessor, the assessor should not take his word for it. Witness testimonies from other reliable and impartial observers of the incident would be one way in which the assessor might be convinced of this. However, given that few of us are reliable or impartial, video evidence would be far more useful here, if at all possible. A light-hearted example, yes, but perhaps it illustrates how one might seek to evidence the competencies required in ways which show “beyond reasonable doubt” that the Award is merited.

Concerns have, from the earliest days of the Award, been expressed over the role of the assessor. Who is an assessor? What gives someone the right to be an assessor? What experience must an assessor have? Perhaps deep down, a lot of us were concerned that there was the potential for people to be signed off “on the nod” – to refer back to our analogy above, we might consider this the “bent cop” syndrome! Of course, with this type of qualification as traditionally run in colleges, where there are financial incentives for candidates to pass, there has always been the temptation to “assist” candidates in dubious ways. This is why all awarding bodies appoint external verifiers to check on standards of assessment. Well, LANTRA are now, quite rightly, insistent that all assessors must hold the Award themselves, and the external verifiers (who must also hold the Award) are in place largely to see that standards of assessment are being met.

Verification may be carried out by a visit to an Accredited Administration Point to see a number of samples of an assessor’s work, or alternately by postal sampling. The main purpose of this process is to ensure that assessors are basing their decisions upon sufficient valid evidence – a safety net, one might say, to see that assessment is meeting the Award criteria and is also fair to the candidate. The EV may also advise assessors as to ways of assessing candidate portfolios or, perhaps, suggest means of assessing where this is not clear cut – or instance where a candidate has specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

BFC Assessors

North Eastern -Mr Derrick Abbey 01429 296738 – Mr Alan Wlaker- 01642 274398

North Western; Mr David Aldred- 01253 859062- Barbara Royal -0161 7994940/07979943546

Yorkshire; Mr John Callaghan – 01226 201076 – Mr David Williams – 01226 248931

Southern: Mr Chris Henden -077939 37210  – Mr Barry Ryder – 0208 6870076

Cotswolds: Mr Graham Irving – 01908 642160

Welsh: Mr Chris Moxon -017433 61788/07855 435077

Midlands; Mr Martyn Standley -01889 584928

Eastern (temporary) and LANTRA co-ordinator Dr Mike Nicholls- 01227 752556/07934483713

Mid West and Western (temporary) and Director- Mr Nick Haverant-Mart- 07974393073

Download workbook here

Download Assessor application form here

LANTRA Booklet here