A FALCONER gave pupils a rare treat yesterday when he took some of his feathered friends for a visit.

Youngsters at South Pelaw Infant School, in Chester-le-Street, met five types of owl and a falcon.

They were allowed to stroke and hold the birds of prey, all under the watchful eye of Ray Lowden, from Kielder Water, in Northumberland.

Headteacher Irene Cochrane said: "The birds were absolutely gorgeous and came in all different sizes and colours.

"Ray talked about the birds and what they do. We thought it would be nice to raise the profile of birds and it is not often the children get to see them at such close quarters.

"It was super to see the look on their faces. They had their mouths open and were full of awe and wonder."

Mr Lowden was there to launch the school's involvement with the RSPB's Big School's Birdwatch.

Youngsters are viewing birds at feeders around the school. So far, they have spotted many varieties, including robins, blue tits, sparrows, finches, magpies and blackbirds.

Mrs Cochrane said: "We are trying to raise their awareness of the local environment and this is a great way of getting them to be more observant."