The Peregrine is a skilful and adaptable predator but it nearly disappeared from the UK. Its success as a killer was nearly its downfall and historically it has faced many threats from humans.
Raptors have been routinely killed where they pose a threat to game birds, this same situation is playing out currently with the Hen harriers. During WWII hundreds of peregrines were shot or their nests destroyed to reduce their numbers in the attempt to avoid them attacking homing pidgeons carrying RAF messages from pilots shot down.
Being high up the food chain the Peregrine has been a victim of the use of Organochlorine pesticides such as DDT. This attacked them directly as poison but also caused them to lay eggs with very thin shells which broke before they could hatch. These factors caused their numbers in the early 60’s to plummet to half their 1939 level.
The good news is their numbers have recovered and these birds have adapted to city life, where there are high numbers of pigeons. Tall buildings have become suitable substitutes for cliffs allowing them to catch their prey.
The female lays a clutch of 3-4 eggs in March/April. Both birds share the incubation which takes 29-32 days. The birds fledge between 35-42 days. During this time the parents will teach them to hunt and handle prey in flight. Less than a third reach maturity. On average in the wild they live 5-6 years.
Once prey is spotted, it begins its stoop, folding back the tail and wings, with feet tucked. Prey is typically struck and captured in mid-air; the peregrine falcon strikes its prey with a clenched foot, stunning or killing it with the impact, then turns to catch it in mid-air. To catch its prey it reaches speeds of 180kph, making it the fastest bird in the world.
Selecting fabrics – I played a little with the colours I used on this piece, using many dark blues rather than slate greys.
Above, adding the details with heat removable pen ready to start stitching.
Bird pieced and cottons chosen. Despite choosing many deep blue fabrics I over stitched using many grey threads, some with pink hues from the Oliver Twist range.
Seeing the picture build from the back.
Once the bird was completed I started to quilt the backing, I experimented on some spare fabric first to decide the best pattern to use.
Drawing the outline ready to quilt.
The finished piece, I’m really pleased I was braver with my fabric choice this time, I think the dark blue on the wing really lifts the piece. Im really looking forward to creating another Hawk or Falcon soon.
A limited edition Giclee print of ‘I Spy’ is available on my website shop here.