Trained Golden Eagle, Alan Gates

Despite the dangers that I had been warned about by elder and more knowledgeable falconers I successfully trained Maria to fly to the fist and behave beautifully. It is a dramatic and awesome sight to have a large female Golden Eagle slam full belt onto your fist. It is equally amazing how lightly and gracefully they can also alight like a butterfly onto your arm.

I only refrained from flying her back to the fist after one silly incident when I was hunting with her late into the winter afternoon. It was getting dusk and the light was fading fast and I felt it was time to make tracks home.

Maria was high in an oak tree and as I headed out across the ploughed bare earth of the field I held my arm aloft for her to catch up with me.
I heard the rush of air displacement as she approached at speed but either due to arriving at an awkward angle or due to the low level of light she landed with one foot on my arm and one grasping the back of my head.

I rolled her forward and she landed on the ground in front of me, I picked her up on my arm and checked the back of my head for signs of blood.
Not a mark, but it made me realise that I should not be so casual with fast approaching eagles.