22 February 2015
Region: South East
Falconry by David Stacey LRPS
One of the great things about photography is the way it can lead you to have experiences, meet people and go places you might otherwise never do.
I have an interest in the way things, places and people look.
I like people, I’m interested in the things people do; not necessarily (but maybe) their jobs but mainly those things that people do that they are passionate about – the way I am about taking photographs.
Sometimes I know of somebody with a particular interest and this makes me want to photograph them; other times I see people and I would like to photograph but then I have to think about why. This series of photographs came from this latter category.
On several occasions while walking my dogs I had seen a man either walking what looked like a pair of wolfhounds or with a bird of prey on his arm. Indeed on a playing field near my home there had been occasions when I had seen him with two or three other people with birds of prey. I spoke with him when I saw him with his dogs, asking him about the birds, as I hadn’t seen any of the falconers for a while. He (his name turned out to be Paul) explained that it was out of season to fly the birds and we had quite a long conversation that showed me he was passionate and extremely knowledgeable about falconry, the different types of birds and also about individual birds he or his friends owned or had owned over the years. He also invited me to go out some time when they were flying and we exchanged numbers.
A couple of months later I got a text message from Paul, telling me when and where to meet him and we went up on the South Downs in Sussex, not far from Alfriston. We met two of his fellow falconers, Nigel and Andy. Between the three of them they had four birds: three peregrine falcons and Paul’s bird Annie, a cross between a Peregrine and Prairie falcon.
We set off walking across country to fly the birds where there would be a possibility of them finding prey, the group know and have permission from the gamekeeper on the land where we were. Each of the birds was flown in turn with varying degrees of success; the men spoke between themselves with obsession about the direction of the wind, the ground cover for prey and the birds themselves, showing great depths of knowledge. They also asked me about my camera and lens and it turned out they had an understanding of photography too.
To the Sea
It was a fascinating insight into an area of life I had hardly touched on previously and I have been asked if I would like to go again, which of course I would.
The images here are all of Paul and Ellie, I didn’t photograph the Nigel or Andy as I hadn’t agreed that with them before we met but would speak to them about it on another occasion.
You can visit David Stacey's website here: www.davidjstacey.com
Article and photographs (c) David Stacey LRPS