What to do at the Weekend: Gauntlet Birds of Prey
Close to the small market town of Knutsford in Cheshire is a fabulous bird sanctuary called Gauntlet Birds of Prey.
If you have an interest in birds or just animals in general, this is a great place to spend a couple or a few hours at the weekend.
What we did at the weekend:
Visited Gauntlet Birds of Prey
Location: Near Knutsford, Cheshire
Our rating: 7/10
A Bird Sanctuary in Cheshire
If you’re looking for things to do in Cheshire – then this is a pretty inexpensive and great option to entertain kids and adults alike.
We stumbled across Gauntlet Birds of Prey completely by accident (we were Googling things to do in Cheshire) and we’re glad we did!
Although we view it as a bit of a hidden gem, the park in fact boasts the largest collection of birds in the North West of England, with over 180 birds calling it home.
Conservation commitment since 1996
Founded in 1996, Gauntlet Birds of Prey is mainly concerned with the conservation and protection of all different types of birds throughout the world.
They also have their own conservation programme in the form of the Gauntlet Conservation Trust, which mainly focuses on preserving vulture populations in Africa.
What is there to see and do at Gauntlet Birds of Prey?
Well first and foremost, at Gauntlet you’ll obviously get to see a huge range of birds.
With over 50 species at the park, the chances are that you’re probably going to see something you’ve never seen before.
That has to be worth the entry fee alone, right?
Alongside those birds you might expect to see at a bird sanctuary – Eagles, Hawks, Vultures, Falcons, and Owls.
The park keeps less common birds such as Caracaras, Seriemas, Storks and Pelicans – we certainly hadn’t seen many (if any) of these before!
There’s a café on site, a picnic area and benches throughout Gauntlet.
For the children, there’s a big wooden fort play area immediately after you pass through reception.
Talks and Demonstrations at Gauntlet Birds of Prey
No good zoo, or in this case, bird sanctuary would be complete without keeper talks and a few up-close demonstrations.
At Gauntlet, the flight demonstrations are really excellent and definitely worth checking out.
They take place throughout the day and you’ll never really have much time to wait around before seeing the next one.
You watch the demonstrations on open air benches, so wrap up warm during the colder months (we visited in autumn).
We’ll definitely be back in the summer 2023 though.
As well as hearing about all the birds, the keepers bring some of the birds up close.
One of our favourite parts of the day was seeing the American Hooded Vulture hopping around the benches and audience members, literally just a matter of inches away from us.
Bird of Prey Experiences
Gauntlet offers a really great selection of bird of prey experiences and VIP days.
These range from 1 hour single animal sessions, all the way up to full day multi-animal experiences.
These experiences give you the opportunity to get really hands-on birds and create some unforgettable memories.
How much do the Bird of Prey Experiences cost?
Depending on the package selected, you might be handling a little owl on a taster experience, to a massive White-tailed Sea Eagle.
Prices range from around the £45.00 mark, all the way up to £225.00 for the full day ultimate eagle encounter.
Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows we love a good animal experience, so we are definitely interested in trying one or two of these in the future.
Events & Workshops
Alongside the experience days, Gauntlet also runs a whole host of specialist events and workshops.
These include the Young Falconer’s Club, Photography Masterclasses, An Evening with Owls (in the summer months), and Owls by Moonlight (winter/autumn).
Many of these are very popular however and some have even sold out for 2023 already.
How much is admission to Gauntlet Birds of Prey?
Adult (16+) tickets are £10.50, children (3-16 years) enter for £8.50, and concessions (65+, disabled, full-time student and unemployed) are £9.00.
We saw recently that Gauntlet is no longer accepting ‘walk-in’ guests, so pre-booking your ticket is essential.
Parking is also free and plentiful, so there should be enough room even on busy days.
Opening dates and times
Gauntlet reopens in 2023 for the February school half term and then for most of the year (running from March to October).
If you’re looking for something to keep the kids happy for a couple of hours, then this might be an idea.
However the opening times and days do change, so we’d advise everyone to check the Gauntlet web page for full details here.
What do I need to know before heading to Gauntlet Birds of Prey?
- The last entry into the park is at 3pm, so get there at the opening time to be on the safe side (I know, we always say that).
- Dogs aren’t allowed in the park and you’ll have to leave your furry friend at home for the day.
- Entry tickets are non-refundable and date specific. So, do make sure you can definitely make the day you want to buy tickets for.
What did we think?
Well, as we already alluded to previously, we really enjoyed our visit to Gauntlet Birds of Prey.
We think the relatively low entrance fee represents really great value for money, especially considering the number of birds to see and quality of the talks and demonstrations.
It’s also clear how passionate and dedicated the team members are towards the birds they look after.
As with all of these kinds of places too, we always get the feeling that our entrance fee money is going towards a good cause.
These birds have to eat, after all.
Thanks to Gauntlet for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon and we will be returning in the summer.