Unofficial Book Club no 6

The Peregrine Falcon by Richard Sale and Steve Watson, Snowfinch Publishing, 528 pages.

I have finally laid hands on The Peregrine Falcon by Richard Sale and Steve Watson, 2022. It’s available at £49.99 from Raptor Aid. For once the book is part of a self-sustaining circular economy, because 10% goes directly to the wonderful Raptor Aid, which supports bird-of-prey populations across Britain. So, you’re not just buying the text, you’ve subscribed directly to the well-being of the bird it describes. (I include the website as the place to buy here:

But why would you? It’s not cheap. Like me, you may be a devotee of Derek Ratcliffe’s ground-breaking The Peregrine Falcon, Poyser, 1980 and 1993 (2nd ed). Trust me, however. If you’re at all interested in the world’s most successful avian predator, you’ll need this astonishing work. Even Derek would have wanted it. It is the most beautifully illustrated, last word on the beast.

There is barely a feather’s weight of peregrine information that has been left out. The text on the diet alone, which in peregrine is possibly the widest of all raptors, runs to 80 pages. Of special note is the way that the authors take to task all the many exaggerated claims about peregrine speed. Their reassessment is a model of meticulous exposition.

Yet the thing I love most is the way the hard science, undergirded by the clearest and boldest sets of graphics or pie-charts I’ve ever seen, works in conjunction with the photographs to create an integrated, informational and aesthetic whole. It is truly magnificent. The images, in fact – 150 in total, packed with all sort of insights and details in their own right – are worth the cover price by themselves.

Instantly it upgrades peregrine scholarship. It will be consulted for decades. It has a bibliography that runs to 32 close-typed pages and I was rather excited to find myself in the list. Not for anything I might have said in the 700,00 words of Birds Britannica or Birds and People. But because in 2007 and long forgotten by its author – but grist to the mill for these peregrine afficionados – I wrote a one-page note on a hunting bird assailed by cheeky crows. Of course, they wouldn’t miss it. And so fame at last!

3 Comments on “Unofficial Book Club no 6

  1. Richard Sale’s previous monograph on the hobby was equally brilliant and co-authored by Ant Messenger, a Derbyshire based raptor worker who has studied hobbies in the county for 40 years.


  2. Very useful & interesting review – thanks though £49.90 is steep for many.
    Peregrines seem to have vacated Lowestoft’s silo since 2018. A recent reports and photos of them are on local FB pages but I am not sure of their dates and provenance. Still hoping for a return.


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