Raptors, Wine & Internet
Raptors, Wine and Internet. What do they have to do with each other? Let me tell you a story…
My wife took a a large government project over the summer that ended mid-August. The hours were long and it felt like our summer was nearly over and we hadn’t had much time together. Just before the end of the project, my wife was thinking about what could we do in our last bit of summer to make it feel like a holiday.
She noticed on Groupon a deal where we could watch a raptor demonstration along with a wine tasting. Raptors are birds of prey like hawks, owls, eagles, vultures and falcons. She knew I loved birds and birds of prey and I enjoy taking nature pictures, so she thought it would be fun for me. (Yes, I know I am a lucky man, but that is another story.) The Groupon deal gave us coupons for half price, so she purchased the package.
I was a little confused at first. What do raptors have to do with wine? It turns out that some vineyards are using raptors to patrol the vineyards for pest birds that eat the grapes. Raptors are used instead of netting the birds or using loud propane cannons. This works very well as the smaller birds are very wary when they know that their natural enemies are on the prowl in the skies.
So we went to see The Raptors at Church & State. Church & State is a vineyard on the Saanich Peninsula in Brentwood Bay, a short drive from Victoria, BC and probably about 1 3/4 hours from our home in Nanaimo. I really didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps a small room with barrels of wine and a chance to see a few raptors. We packed a picnic lunch and my camera and started south.
The drive was lovely – a rural paradise very reachable from nearby Victoria. The sun was shining and we entered the gates of the vineyards. Everywhere I looked were acres of grape vines, all green and lush. We pulled up to the main building and went inside. To my surprise, the building held a large restaurant with outside patio and a lovely wine tasting “bar” where you sat on stools. It was very elegant and modern with colors and lighting that were very soothing.
We were able to try 4 different wines each and enjoyed our time, relaxing and sipping until it was time for the raptors demonstration.
The demonstration was on the side of a hill with bleachers set up for us. The first of the hawks to arrive was a Harris Hawk, a gorgeous dark bird with brownish red colored feathers on his back. He flew right over us to the handler. We learned this was to be a trend. Throughout the demonstration, the birds would fly over and through the crowd. At times, I think feathers or at least the airwash from the feathers touched my Tilley hat.
In addition to the Harris Hawk, we met a Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon and another type of hawk whose name escapes me.
The demonstration was very informative. We learned how each of the birds of prey hunted and how they were trained. A few interesting facts:
- owls have large curved faces that act like a satellite dish to collect sound. Their wings are whisper silent so prey can’t hear them – the original “stealth” technique. I can attest to this personally at both the hawks and owl came right by my ears and the owl’s wings were silent.
- hawks and falcons can be used with dogs like Jack Russell terriers. The dogs will flush the birds and the raptor will strike.
Over time, pest birds become used to other devices like scarecrows or plastic birds of prey. But they can’t help their reaction to real birds of prey patrolling because this is a survival behavior that they have evolved with.
the peregrine falcon can reach 325kmh during a hunting stoop and is the fastest animal on Earth
All the raptors were beautiful in flight. The peregrine falcon raced around the sky, more maneuverable than any fighter jet, making it a real challenge for me to get any in-focus pictures. I took hundreds of pictures and this was a great learning experience for me to figure out how to take pictures of birds in flight. I got better as the demonstration went on and did get a few pictures I am pleased with.
So we had a lovely day and learned a lot. But what does all this have to do with Internet marketing? Well, remember that my wife found out about the vineyard and the raptors through Groupon – a daily deals web site. So did Groupon work for Church & State? I would definitely say so. I saw many people leaving with bottles of wine. I would certainly consider coming back and having dinner there and seeing the raptors again. And I will definitely recommend this to other people and my visitors.
The Groupon deal was a great way to introduce new people to their wines, activities and restaurant and an excellent example of how the Internet can bring real people in the door for local businesses.
So has Groupon worked for you? What other ways do you use the Internet to market locally? Please leave a comment.
- What is a peregrine falcons habit (wiki.answers.com)
- Wings, Tail Feathers and Other Identifiers for Birds of Prey (brighthub.com)