The Cathedral's peregrines are a magnet for bird photographers. The combination of the raptors' beauty in flight and their aerial acrobatics, set again the backdrop of our ancient building, are irresistible to some....
And so they come, bearing lenses the length or their arms and endowed with the patience of Job, to watch, wait and capture 'that' moment.
James Fisher, part-time engineer and part-time wildlife photographer, is a regular volunteer on the Cathedral's Peregrine Project team. For the last six years he has been photographing the falcons and here he discusses the challenges of getting that perfect shot, or indeed, any shot at all:
"I started taking photographs of the Salisbury Peregrines when I heard that they'd returned to the Cathedral in 2013. Prior to that I had only ever seen Peregrines occasionally along the south coast. The opportunity to photograph them at the Cathedral, so close to home, is fantastic but presents real challenges. When perched on the Cathedral Spire, they can be so high up that simply spotting them, let alone photographing them can be tricky. When they’re in flight around the Cathedral Close they’re much easier to see, but can move so fast, that taking an in-focus shot can be almost impossible.
"But when you manage to capture the right photo the results can be impressive - the Cathedral provides a perfect backdrop. I find first thing in the morning can be the best time to get photographs of the Peregrines. Stand on the lawn on the east side of the Cathedral at sunrise in May, June or July and the lighting is perfect. And once the chicks have hatched it’s usually a good time to see one of the adults bringing food in for the first feed of the day.
"I’ve been lucky enough to capture some amazing moments in the life of the Salisbury Peregrines - seeing the chicks up close as they’re ringed and recorded each year, witnessing Aveline’s (SC) first flight from the cathedral spire when she fledged in 2016, seeing Peter’s (GX) release back into the wild after being nursed back to health at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, and capturing a mid-air food pass between the two adult Peregrines in June this year.
With four chicks hatched and now fledged this year, there is lots of action to photograph around the Cathedral. Plenty to keep me occupied over the next month or so!"
James' work can be seen in the gallery attached.