Peregrine memories of an old friend

This evening, in memory of an old friend, I pulled out an old red Ordnance Survey map – number 9 – which Bernard Hendy sent me, long ago, with all his peregrine nests marked on it – a total of 15 sites with breeding pairs in one summer.I learnt this week that Bernard had recently died during a visit to Zambia. I first met him in the 1970s when I was Highland Officer of the RSPB. It was a time when we spent huge effort protecting peregrine falcons from egg and chick thieves. It was not long after the pesticide era had decimated the bird through the UK but numbers were still good in the Highlands. Unlike today, the north-west corner of Sutherland had high numbers of breeding peregrines and these birds brought me into contact with Bernard. He had moved to the Balnakeil craft village as a candle maker. He had a great love of falcons, in fact, his son was called Merlin. I really enjoyed spending time with him in the Durness area and remember vividly one time when he phoned in great excitement to tell me he had found two nests well under a mile apart south of Rhiconich. A few days later I was with him – we looked at the pair on a cliff above the loch – they had young – and then hiked across the other side of the road. There was the second pair. It was a high point for peregrines in the north-west corner of Scotland and we were lucky to have such an enthusiast living there and keeping an eye on them each summer. Bernard left Scotland and we lost contact until a few years ago when he returned with his wife Irene to live at Durness. Immediately there was that old friendship again and I learnt of his great interest in the conservation of tigers in India. My sincere condolences, of course, go to Irene and his family.PeregrineFalcon