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!

14 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.


    • At the moment there is a pair on the Lowestoft silo they seem very active and I do wonder if they have chicks or are on eggs. Very frustrating not having cameras on them. I would love to know there status


      • Hi Mark just thought you maybe interested in an update regarding the Lowestoft Peregrines. Looks like two chicks which are possibly a week from fledging. Despite long distance I have a clear view of the nest box with a scope from my home. Wonderful to see them


      • I keep watch on the silo regularly. I haven’t seen them this year yet. Must try harder.


  3. Derby Cathedral’s peregrines have nested on its tower since 2006 when we installed a nest platform for them. The individual birds have changed over time but this year’s clutch has just been completed and incubation is now underway. See: .
    4.7 million hits to our web cams testify to the additive power of these birds!


    • Of course that should be ‘addictive’ not additive….yet another of my ‘more haste’ typo’s!


      • I’ve been following tge Norwich peregrines on the Hawk & Owl Trust webcam. Nice changeover at breakfast 7.30 and another at 1915 (some between I guess). My FB page has the screen shots. Hard to identify the prey though. A pair of lovely ruddy brown eggs.


      • Do you know anything about Lowestoft peregrines. We last had a pair in 2018, nothing came of it I was told; tgen I saw a male the following January roosting in their usual place but nothing since. However some people are posting photos supposedly from this year, clearly the silo in the background. Just before Christmas the press had a report about police finding a young bird at a house in Lowestoft that had been taken from tge wild. They don’t say where and I don’t think the case has come to court yet. I wondered if this was connected. I had my doubts about the silo employees when I spoke to them in 2018. I really would like to know the explanation of this, if you have heard anything more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: