Birds of prey centre to boost tourist attraction

Vicki Jolley and Archie the great gray owl from new Community Interest Company, Haigh Birds of Prey
Vicki Jolley and Archie the great gray owl from new Community Interest Company, Haigh Birds of Prey

OWLS will soon descend on Haigh Hall as a birds of prey centre is to open at the popular site.

Vicki Jolley, owner of Haigh Birds of Prey CIC, is working with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) and Friends off Haigh Country Park to set up the activity at the country park, which will launch next month,

The project will involve displays of birds such as owls, hawks and falcons and educational talks.

Vicki, 30, said: “I approached WLCT about setting the centre up at Haigh Hall to bring more tourism there and give the community something else.

“Haigh Hall is the ideal location because of the woodland setting and in the middle of the model village there are a lot of trees and so there is a lot of wildlife.

“This will not just be a birds of prey centre with flying displays. It will be educational too as I talk through the bird and their habitats, as people can walk through the aviaries. We will offer hawk walks and also talk about British wildlife in the model village. I will also be doing crafts inside the centre with youngsters.

“I am really pleased this is going ahead, as I believe this will be great for the site.

“Plus I hope to create one or two jobs out of it, as I already have some volunteers and when the centre gets fully up and running, I will be able to employ some staff.”

Vicki has kept birds of prey since she was 14, as her dad, Keith, is an avid falconer. She has 17 birds, including owls, hawks, falcons and buzzards.

She said: “It is a passion of mine. I fly them, look after them and do rehabilitation. I do this because I want to educate other people about the conservation of birds of prey because numbers are dropping.

“I have been doing displays for two years now as part of my community interest company Haigh Birds of Prey and I go around schools and do educational visits with Brownies, Guides, Scouts etc and do displays at Pennington Flash, Haigh Hall and Mesnes Park.”

A WLCT spokesman said: “We have worked in partnership with Vicki to provide a number of events over the past year and it seems fitting that she brings the birds of prey to the park on a permanent basis. This is a great example of what can be achieved through working in partnership with community groups and other businesses in the borough.”