High-rise hunters

In my last blog about the urban peregrine falcons that inhabit the towers of the Houses Of Parliament, I mentioned I had the opportunity to go up the Victoria Tower (the tallest tower at the opposite of parliament to Big Ben). During my first trip up this tower, I didn’t have much luck. For the two hours we were up there, it rained for a lot of the time and peregrines don’t like rain so their activity was minimal. However, the second time I went up, back in September, I had a lot more luck and got some of the shots I was after. Going up the tower has two advantages, firstly, it gets you much closer but most importantly, you’re at eye level or looking down on the birds so it’s possible to fill the background with buildings as opposed to just the sky. For me, it was essential that I set them in their urban environment.

I arrived at 6am with stars still twinkling above. By the time we’d got through numerous security checks and they’d determined my tripod was not a bomb threat; the sun was starting to creep up above the horizon. Just as we were admiring the stunning sunrise over London, our first peregrine flew in. The adult female flew over to Big Ben and perched right on the very top of the tower, closely followed by one of her offspring. The juvenile’s two siblings had already left home but this one was clinging on. The adult male then flew by without stopping, presumable to go and hunt, the female then followed his lead. While they were gone, the juvenile put on a show. In between flights she would sit on the middle tower between the tower I was on and Big Ben.

With careful manoeuvring, I lined up the tower up with a bridge about a mile downstream of the river Thames. From time to time a London double decker bus, a classic symbol of London, would drive past. Unfortunately, the bus service at 6am isn’t particularly regular! Eventually the shot came together, the peregrine stayed still long enough while a bus drove past. Just before we had to go back down to ground level, the juvenile leapt off the tower and headed out over the river flying right in front of the London eye. I must say an enormous thank you to the Parliamentary Archives for allowing me up the tower (http://www.parliament.uk/archives). I owe another big thank you to London peregrine expert, Dave Morrison. If there’s an urban peregrine nearby, Dave will spot it!

Since starting university at Bristol, getting up to London has become a bit difficult so until I’ve broken up for my summer holidays, I’m photographing two pairs here. One pair is located right in the centre of Bristol and the other, the famous Avon gorge pair, in a slightly wilder setting. The inner city pair often perch on fairly low buildings allowing me to get pretty close.

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2 Responses to High-rise hunters

  1. Pingback: High rise hunters | we produce beautifully crafted multimedia

  2. Brilliant stuff Bertie. Love your pictures, and your writing. Your sense of timing and capturing ‘moments’ is excellent. I am in awe. Great work.

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