I’ve asked myself so many times why it mattered so much that a wild peregrine should be sent back to its home in the sky.
I wrote “Queen of the Sky” as an attempt to understand this. I still ask myself the same question.
Ffion phoned to tell me I needed to see what was in her kitchen
When she told me that she was at the hardware store buying gauntlets, that I should be careful how I let myself in, I knew she was talking about something interesting, and not a new kitchen gadget
To get so close to a wild peregrine was amazing
To find one in such a domestic setting was strange. All I saw was beauty. I didn’t realise at this time how ragged and ill she was. She has landed in the sea, to the ocean side of Ramsey Island, off the Pembrokeshire Coast and Ffion had rescued her from a watery grave.
Ffion only intended to keep her for a couple of days, let her rest then set her free to fly
It was only when she let her go on Ramsey Island that she realised she couldn’t fly and something was badly wrong.
From the first I took photographs and began to paint her. For me it was a privilege to get so close to a wild bird
For the next few months she was to become a powerful focus, for myself as an artist and for Ffion who took on the task of rehabilitating her to return her, fit, to the sky.
In early spring Ffi began the long and painstaking task of working with a bird to build her fitness
She was a wild bird, thin, ragged and battered. For the most part of the winter she lived in a falconry mews, perched high up. Ffi would visit her to feed her and watch her as she moulted out, but she needed to do more than moult. She needed to be fit if she was to survive.
The two soon grew accustomed to each other and I watched a bond develop between them
I visited when I could, trying to just stay back, observe
Seeing how the two interacted was wonderful. I took so many photographs, recording what I was seeing, to use for painting later. Moments like this were just wonderful.
Ffion built up the bird’s fitness by flying her on a creance at first. Later she trusted her to fly free
Watching the bird fly was astonishing. It seemed as if everything around fell away and only that point of sky came into focus
She built muscle. Her feathers grew stronger. Soon she would have to go.
Meanwhile I worked away at large paintings that I hoped would follow her progress, from the kitchen windowsill back to the sky
Such a fierce bird!
I loved her wildness, and for a while I wondered, would Ffion have the courage to set her free, send her back to her home in the sky.
Queen Of The Sky
At the beginning, when my friend called to say come and see, what I have, here in my kitchen, I had no idea that this was the start of a book. Now “Queen of the Sky” tells of Ffion’s work, to send one bird back home. And still I ask, why does one bird matter, in all the world, one small but fierce bird. What significance does this small story have? Why did it need to be told? I think it has something to do with beauty, with friendship, with love.