VIDEO: Mike Brown’s Seaside Town at Park Rose Birds of Prey centre

They say that news is a 24/7 job. During late nights hunched over the computer on deadline night, I can see what they mean.

But that’s nothing compared to the round the clock effort Karl Black and Clare Steele put into running the Park Rose Birds of Prey Centre on Covert Lane in Carnaby.

Mike Brown Seaside Feature'With Karl Black of the  Parkrose Bird of Prey Centre'NBFP PA1321-20n

Mike Brown Seaside Feature'With Karl Black of the Parkrose Bird of Prey Centre'NBFP PA1321-20n

For they literally work all hours looking after their extended family of more than 70 animals - as well as their own young children - at the park they have run since taking over a failing centre in August 2009.

So when I went along to experience a day in the life of an animal park owner, I expected hard work.

One thing I didn’t mention before I turned up was that I am a committed townie. Usually, the closest I get to nature is avoiding pigeons in the town centre, or rolling up my trouser legs to go for a paddle.

That didn’t seem to matter too much as I took on my first task - feeding the ewes who have recently lambed.

Climbing into their enclosure, I felt a strange calm - which was only punctured by a slight worry that the hungry sheep would knock me over as they jostled to eat.

Next up were the birds. There are more than 40 birds at the centre, and many of them fly in displays for visitors - which of course was music to my ears, as it gave me the chance to indulge in my second ‘out of my comfort zone’ activity of the day, showmanship.

Donning a glove and standing arm aloft while Karl explained to the crowd about owls Barney and Merlin and ferruginous/redtail hybrid hawk Columbus, I waited for them to fly to see me. And miraculously they did. It’s obvious they’re fantastically well trained.

Then was a tour of the other animals on site, including pigs and goats.

I got up close to some reluctant looking wallabies - one with a joey in pouch - who eventually trusted me enough to eat their dinner within inches of where I reluctantly crouched.

Then I fed meal worms to some altogether less reluctant meerkats, who growled and chatted and ‘hunted’ grapes.

I had only been on site for a few hours, but I had seen how much work goes into looking after so many dependent animals.

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to do it full time, so I asked Karl what it was like.

“A few weeks ago we got away on our first weekend off together since we took over the park. It doesn’t seem like hard work though, it’s a passion,” said Karl.

“When we took over there was no license and we have built everything since then. We’ve recently expanded the site, this year the sheep have breeded and we have 9 lambs now. It’s growing all the time.

“We won a start-up business award at the Chamber Business Awards and that was like a big pat on the back for what we do here.

“My little girls love it. My five-year-old trained one of our harris hawks and they love to get involved too.

“Working here is a bit like having an extended family.

“When some of the animals are breeding we artificially inseminate and we can be here until 3am some nights.”

But the park isn’t just about looking after animals, it’s also about teaching youngsters about nature.

“We have school visits come here and they are fascinated. A lot of the time they won’t have had any experience of handling animals but when they come along they listen to what we are telling them.

“Some of the kids aren’t the type to sit in lessons and be taught from books, they engage the hands on way we do things here.”

The park run a Young Falconers’ Club on Sunday mornings, and will run kids packages during the summer holidays where they can enjoy, donkey rides, pig racing, small animal holding and flying displays.

More information about the park can be found at