Meet Ma­bel the free fly­ing macaw

We meet up with lo­cal celebrity Ma­bel and her owner Brian

Hinckley Times - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS DAW­SON ni­cholas.daw­son@reach­

ONE of the town’s colour­ful char­ac­ters is prov­ing to be a real high-flyer.

Ma­bel the macaw has been train­ing for two years to freefly in the out­doors and she now takes to the skies above the fields and parks of Hinck­ley.

Brian Cartwright has had the blue and gold macaw since she was 20 weeks old and he reg­u­larly goes with her to Swal­lows Green to spread her wings.

He said: “We’ve had some great flights and lots of noise.

“I started Ma­bel train­ing as soon as she could fly in the house. I started her fly­ing on har­ness and dog lead to start with, then onto elas­tic.

“Then I found a Face­book group based in the UK called Par­rot Har­ness and Freeflight UK.

“The thought of freeflight, al­though it scared me, ac­tu­ally got me want­ing to learn more.”

Mr Cartwright vol­un­teers at Green Tow­ers and he in­tro­duced Ma­bel to fly­ing in larger spa­ces there.

He said: “She had been ‘boomerang­ing’ fly­ing from me round the hall and back to me for a while.

“So when I thought she was ready, we went up the green with our friend Ruth and she flew from me to her and back again. Af­ter that she was flown daily.”

The friendly flap­per is well known by neigh­bours and is reg­u­larly taken into Rich­mond Pri­mary School to meet pupils and teach­ers.

On one re­cent out­ing to the green she made an un­sched­uled visit to a cricket game.

Brian took her to a field away from the park to avoid the Hinck­ley Ama­teurs game but she de­cided to fly over the trees any­way to see the ac­tion.

He went to the pitch to find her hap­pily perched on one of the crick­eter’s shoul­ders.

Brian said: “I apol­o­gised for the dis­rup­tion and told him to apol­o­gise to the rest of the crick­eters for the in­ter­rup­tion.

“He said she had been very gen­tle and it was no trou­ble at all, they were just about to have a drink break any­way so that was no big deal.”

Mav­er­ick Ma­bel en­joys trips into town to visit the Pet Store in Block­ley’s Yard and to Cave’s for her food and nuts.

She’s also very par­tial to some break­fast toast on Cas­tle Street.

Her owner is teach­ing her to do tricks such as turn­ing around on a perch, say­ing hello and wav­ing, and giv­ing him a high five.

The Cartwright house­hold is home to sev­eral feath­ered and furry friends, among them two cats, two shih tzus and two res­cue bull­dogs from Ge­ordie Bul­lies, plus a res­cue macaw from All Star Par­rots.

11-year-old Al­fie is their first par­rot, a smaller eclec­tus who is very tame and happy to qui­etly perch on any­one’s shoul­der.

Ma­bel is mostly well be­haved but does have her naughty mo­ments. One of her an­tics is to let out a squawk that sets off one of the dogs bark­ing, who she then tells to ‘be quiet’ be­fore mak­ing the squawk again.

Brian, orig­i­nally from El­lis­town, de­vel­oped his pas­sion for par­rots very early on.

He said: “My love for the macaw started when I was about nine.

“My dad was into birds and took me to see them while on hol­i­day.

“I al­ways wanted one from that mo­ment on, but work and fam­ily com­mit­ments meant I never had time for one.

“Af­ter my wife be­came too ill to work and I de­cided to stay at home and look af­ter her, I even­tu­ally saved enough money to buy one.”

Brian bought Ma­bel from a breeder in Derby while she was still sprout­ing her plumage.

She is now two and a half and is yet to reach her full wing­span.

He hopes to one day meet up with other par­rot freefly­ers and give Ma­bel the chance to fly to­gether in a flock.

Ma­bel Macaw has her own Face­book page, where you can see videos of her freefly­ing and other pic­tures of her in ac­tion.

Brian Cartwright with his macaw Ma­bel, who he has been train­ing to freefly in Hinck­ley.

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