Feb 18, 2018

On the Wing

To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon
by Alan Tennant

After reading Peregrine Spring, I looked among my own shelves for some more falconry-related titles. I thought this one looked promising, in fact I had two copies of it among my unread-books, one picked up at a library sale and the other from The Book Thing. I guess it caught my eye twice for the same reason. It's written by a man who sometime in the eighties or nineties (my best guess) became suddenly gripped by the idea of following an individual peregrine falcon on its migration jouney- not just mapping its path on a screen via radio-tracking, but physically trailing it in a light aircraft. It sounds intriguing, especially for the time when little was known about peregrines, their exact routes and how juveniles fared on their first migration. But something about the book didn't quite work for me. The way the author apparently appropriated others' equipment for his un-sanctioned study kind of put me off. I thought the descriptions of flight in a small plane -akin to Saint-Exuprey's writing- would interest me, but it didn't. And actual descriptions of the birds are few and far between. They did learn some new things about how peregrines respond to certain weather patterns and their hunting styles, and there are some good observations from nesting sites in the arctic. Unfortunately most of the book seems to be about the travels, difficulties getting around regulations, encounters with loads of strangers, and effects of man on the environment -noticeable from the air- where the writing style just did not engage me. I found myself skipping around a lot to read the parts that actually described the peregrines. I probably missed a lot in the process and this is one case where I'm rather disappointed in myself for not appreciating a book properly.

Rating: 2/5          304 pages, 2004

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