Last week I was privileged to have Ralph, a wild rescued male Peregrine Falcon, in my studio for a photographic session.
Ralph was taken from his nest last year, but fortunately a better conscience meant he was handed to the Corio Raptor Rescue Centre in Lancashire, where he was reared until fully feathered and ready to fly the nest. During this rearing time the centre made sure he did not become imprinted on humans, as the aim is to return him to the natural habitat.
To achieve this he will need to be rehabilitated and that is where the wonderful Lydia comes into Ralph’s story. An expert Falconer, she is training Ralph to hunt for himself where, with plenty of exercise and an introduction to wild prey, he will soon return to the wild.
He is currently flown using a Marshall Radio GPS tracking system. This allows Lydia to monitor his speed, height and position and increase his exercise in line with his strength and development. He is fed on a mixed diet of day old chick, quail and pheasant but will hopefully begin to catch his own wild prey soon.
When I first saw Ralph it was not only a huge thrill but very obvious he was different to the birds you often see at country shows. This was a wild powerful creature, a little less preened than the captive ones and his head larger and somehow more nobel, a true force of nature with a mind of his own.
In truth it would have been better if he had not been available to photograph as he should never have been taken from his nest. Sadly these things do happen and it is fortunate that there are people such as Nick Henderson of the Corio Raptor Centre and Lydia, a dedicated trainer, who are prepared to invest in the huge amount of time, devotion and care it takes to save these magnificent creatures.
For their work to continue they need constant funding, so if you have enjoyed the images of Ralph I would be very grateful to any one who wishes to help by making a donation. You can do this on the Corio website http://www.raptor.org.uk/