Meet Mabel the free flying macaw
We meet up with local celebrity Mabel and her owner Brian
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.