Natural World (1983–…): Season 36, Episode 7 - Natural World - full transcript

Helen Macdonald, the author of bestselling novel H is for Hawk, deals with the loss of her father by focusing on the art of falconry and training a goshawk while also taking care of its family.

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♪♪

[Wind rushing]

MACDONALD: Do you
remember when you were a kid,

the day before your
birthday, you couldn't sleep

because you knew
something special was coming?

It's a little bit like that,
crossed with the thought

that maybe, you know,
tomorrow there'll be a hurricane,

you know, the weather's
going to change,

and things are going
to get really serious.

Because you just know
that life's going to change

when the goshawk arrives.



♪♪

10 years ago, my
father died suddenly.

♪♪

Stricken with grief,
I fled from humanity.

I ran towards things
of death and difficulty...

Spooky, pale-eyed
feathered ghosts

that lived and killed
in woodland thickets.

♪♪

I ran towards goshawks.

♪♪

The story of how I
trained my goshawk Mabel

became a best-selling
book... "H Is for Hawk."

Oh, my God, she's
amazing and so beautiful.

Hello.



But this fiery bird with
light-splashed feathers

isn't Mabel.

I'm training a new goshawk,
and the prospect is terrifying.

This is the raging, wild
challenge of my future...

A hawk that won't
be a solution to grief,

but my wings to somewhere new.

♪♪

♪♪

MACDONALD: Wow.

She's, um... She's amazing.

She's huge. She's like
twice the size of Mabel.

And is doing that goshawk
magic thing already.

She's, um... She's
transforming this room

into something very
unlike a domestic sphere.

She's... She's
making it feel wild.

It's like you've stepped into
another world in here now.

♪♪

She's, you know, half
dragon, half leopard,

something very
old and prehistoric.

♪♪

She has this very light hood on,

which just makes
her think it's nighttime,

so she's sort of
sleepy, as well,

and I'm not going to
challenge her today

by taking that hood off.

What I might do is sit
with her and just talk to her

and try and get across

that this voice is not
something to be feared.

The journey begins, I guess.

Here we go.

♪♪

Training another
hawk was inevitable.

But I didn't know it.

♪♪

I didn't know that it would
be the outcome of a journey

that began earlier that year

when I set out to watch
goshawks in the wild.

[Birds chirping]

To me, goshawks are among
the most beautiful things

the world has ever made.

♪♪

Their predatory
grace is bewitching.

♪♪

They are big,
bloody, deadly, scary,

and very, very hard to see.

[Birds chirping]

Wild goshawks are
magnificent phantoms.

You might spend a week
in a forest full of them

and never see one...

just traces of their presence.

A sudden hush

followed by the calls of
terrified woodland birds

and a sense of something
moving just beyond vision.

♪♪

I was desperate to see this
most secretive of hawks in the wild.

I knew they would
be difficult to find.

But then, everything
about goshawks is difficult.

♪♪

Looking for goshawks
is like looking for grace.

It comes but not often.

And you don't get
to say when or how.

♪♪

That spring, I could
have counted on one hand

the number of times I'd
ever seen them in the wild.

But I remembered one
morning a decade ago,

on a clear March day

at the beginning of
their breeding season,

when suddenly, there they were.

They had left their secret
world under the trees

to court each other,
dancing in the open sky.

♪♪

I remembered them so clearly

because my memory of
the hawks' graceful flight

became caught up
in a terrible moment.

A few weeks later,
my mum called me

and told me that
my father had died.

♪♪

Dad was one of the best
photojournalists of his time.

He took this photo of me.

I still remember how
itchy that sweater was,

how still I had to sit.

♪♪

His unexpected death
shattered all the stories

I'd told myself about my life.

Grief broke me.

I didn't know who I was anymore.

I found myself falling
back into old ways

of looking at the world.

And my old childhood
obsession started to return.

♪♪

For as long as I can
remember, I've loved birds.

I used to rear orphaned
fledglings, like my crow Albert.

But hawks were my favorite.

When I was small, I
loved them so much,

I tried to sleep with my arms
crossed at my back like wings.

I even said prayers to the
ancient Egyptian falcon god,

Horus.

♪♪

I went on a falconry
course when I was 13,

and this is me
with a Harris hawk.

And I don't know. I look joyous.

I mean, I was. It was
an amazing experience.

And this is a bird-of-prey
center that I used to work at,

and they taught me,
really, how to handle birds,

and then they gave
me my first kestrel.

And this is... this is the
one who used to sleep

in my bedroom bookcase at night.

My parents were
unbelievably chilled out

about this falconry business.

I think twice my mother
told me, you know,

"Are you sure you
wouldn't rather be a lawyer

than a falconer?"

♪♪

It's really weird when you
look at childhood pictures

and you feel there's no
continuity between you.

They sort of punctuate.
This is one person.

This is different person.

But in all the ones where I
have hawks on my hands,

you know, I
remember those hawks.

I remember those moments.

And I feel like I'm
the same person.

♪♪

You'll copy your parents.
It's kind of who you are.

I guess what
photography does is,

when you're in
a scary situation,

you can put the
camera to your eye

and you look
through the viewfinder,

and it distances you
from what you're seeing.

♪♪

My father said that
was the way to be safe

is that you just look
at it as a picture.

You look through the lens.
And I think with falconry...

You know, when my dad died
and my whole family was bereft,

living with a hawk let
me experience the world,

in my imagination anyway,
through... through her eyes.

She was a little
bit like a camera,

a little bit like a viewfinder,

and the hawk sees
the world differently, too,

so it's kind of an escape
from your own vision,

I think, in both cases, yeah.

When Dad died, I started
dreaming of hawks all the time.

I wanted to fly with a
hawk to salve my grief,

cross from this world
into another, wilder one.

♪♪

Mabel was my first goshawk.

I'd trained a lot of
birds of prey in my life.

I never wanted
to train a goshawk.

I knew they were very highly
strung, very hard to train.

And then my dad died,
and I wanted a goshawk.

♪♪

When something bad happens,
when you lose a loved one,

you're often driven
by, you know,

almost unconscious motivations.

I was driven to
get this goshawk.

The hawk had caught me.

It was never the
other way around.

Writing about Mabel
was one of the ways

I later tried to
make sense of it all.

♪♪

MAN: And the winner of the
2014 Costa Book of the Year is...

"H Is for Hawk" by
Helen Macdonald.

WOMAN: So I am happy to
announce that Helen Macdonald

is the winner of the
Samuel Johnson Prize 2014

with "H Is for Hawk."

MACDONALD: The
book I wrote did really well.

I didn't expect that.

It's been quite exciting
and a bit of a shock.

The person that's in the
book isn't really me anymore.

I think what happens
after a big bereavement

is that you... You
know, you fall apart,

and you have to remake yourself
as someone else, someone new,

and that's who I am now,

and that person in the
book isn't really me anymore.

♪♪

Just before I finished
writing the book, Mabel died.

A sudden, untreatable
infection with aspergillosis,

a deadly airborne
fungal disease,

carried her from her
aviary to the dark woods

where dwell the
lost and the dead.

♪♪

[Birds chirping]

Eight years on,

I felt compelled to bring
goshawks back into my life.

So I turned to Rob,

a friend of a friend and
my wild goshawk guru.

[Indistinct conversation]

ROB: I like the fact
that for most the year,

they're very secret birds,
and you can't really see them.

And there's only one
short window in the year

that you can actually get
close to them and observe them.

MACDONALD: Right, which
is when they're breeding.

ROB: When they're
breeding. MACDONALD: Yeah.

ROB: And the rest of the year,
they just seem to disappear,

and for such a large
bird, that's quite a trick.

MACDONALD: No, it is. It's
almost supernatural, isn't it,

that sort of ghostly way
that they... they vanish.

ROB: I just say they're
magical birds, really.

MACDONALD: They are, they are.

♪♪

Years ago, Rob had
taken me to see a nest

right at the edge of England
just before it tips into Wales,

a land of wet forest
and wild goshawks.

And now I'd asked
him to find me another...

♪♪

One I could visit over
the spring and summer

to get a personal view

of Britain's most
elusive bird of prey.

♪♪

Wild goshawks are
breeding again in Britain

after over a
century of extinction,

and this forest is one
of their strongholds.

Their presence here reminds me

that the wild does not
have to be a thing untouched

by human hearts and hands.

♪♪

The wild can be human work.

♪♪

Because in the '60s and '70s,

British falconers worked out

that for the cost of importing a
European goshawk for falconry,

you could bring in a
second bird and release it.

Buy one, set one free.

♪♪

Reintroduction isn't hard
with a bird as self-reliant

and predatory as a goshawk.

♪♪

After all, everything
about these hawks

is tuned to hunt and kill.

♪♪

Falconers brought
goshawks back to life.

And now I realized it was
time to bring one back into mine.

♪♪

The strange thing was that
the hawk I'd train this summer

would be, in one
sense, immortal.

For while individual
goshawks die,

their species has
remained unchanged.

They have no fancy varieties

because they were always
taken from the wild to be trained.

♪♪

The birds falconers fly today

are identical to those
of 5,000 years ago.

Civilizations rise and fall,
but the hawks stay the same.

♪♪

Today, British falconers
only use aviary-bred birds.

And goshawks are
fiendishly difficult to breed.

♪♪

[Birds squawking]

[Teakettle whistling]

It's not for the fainthearted.

Even in the wild, there's a fine
line between goshawk romance

and terrible, mortal violence.

[Liquid pouring]

You can't just put a couple
of goshawks in an aviary

and leave them to it.

More often than not, the
female will kill her mate.

[Birds chirping]

Instead you put them in
separate, adjoining aviaries

and monitor their
behavior closely.

Only when you think
the female is ready...

A piece of fine judgment
that does not admit error...

Do you let the male
into her chamber.

ANDY: He's going
to copulate. Lookit.

MAN: Yeah. ANDY:
Oh, there we are.

Come on, lad.

They're doing it right now.

There you are.

MAN: That's it.
ANDY: One copulation.

MAN #2: Hopefully she'll
lay soon and it'll be fertile.

♪♪

MACDONALD: Wayne, Dave,
Andy are goshawk breeders.

♪♪

During the mating season,
they stare obsessively at screens

showing live footage
from their aviaries.

♪♪

This is the best
television ever.

Forget American cop shows.

I want to watch
goshawks all day.

ANDY: The goshawk
on the monitor, Helen,

that's the mother to the
goshawk you'll be having.

MACDONALD: Ah, look at her.
ANDY: She's sat on eggs now.

MACDONALD: Hello, you.

When I got Mabel, I never
saw the parents of the bird,

and it's kind of lovely to
see... to see the actual...

ANDY: Must be great
for you having a bird

and you're actually seeing
the parents to the bird.

MACDONALD: Yeah, it's amazing.

ANDY: It's got to give
you a buzz, that, anyway,

to just see this.

MACDONALD: It's made
me feel quite soppy, actually.

You know this is one of the
things about goshawks that,

you know, I sort of love is
that everyone thinks of them

as being a bit like
feathered shotguns,

but actually, they make
people feel quite soppy, as well.

[Laughs]

There would be a
goshawk for me to train.

And I'd asked, if possible,
for a female like Mabel.

[Birds chirping]

♪♪

As spring edged towards summer,

the forest shone with
new-spilled beauty.

♪♪

In the nest that Rob found
for me, the chicks had hatched.

♪♪

Three small bundles of dense
cotton wool waiting to be fed.

[Chirping]

A new goshawk family,

descended from birds
released by falconers,

was being raised.

♪♪

Wild, spectacular,
utterly at home,

the presence of these British
goshawks fills me with joy.

♪♪

For weeks, I waited anxiously,
getting updates from Rob.

♪♪

And then, after almost a month,
I went to see them for myself.

[Birds chirping]

I'm 50 foot up in the air

staring at a nest
of baby goshawks,

which is pretty extraordinary.

They're at this
really ludicrous stage

where they look like
moth-eaten eagles.

And they can hear me, I think,

'cause they're giving me
evils through the foliage.

It's amazing seeing them here.

I never thought I'd see a
goshawk nest at this level.

I feel like kind
of a bit of a spy.

[Birds chirping]

[Gasps] She's on the nest.

Oh, my gosh.

Oh, she's spectacular.

It's impossible to look
at them without grinning.

It's just so great.

There's a whole bunch of
things these birds are doing

which make my heart
kind of ache a little

because they're so familiar.

And there are some
great falconry terms.

So when the young birds
extend one wing to stretch

and sort of drag it over
their tail, it's called mantling.

They do this thing, too,
where they put both wings

above their back

and really, really,
really, really stretch them,

and that's called warbling.

It's really evocative
of my time with Mabel,

and, yeah, it's great.

A goshawk is a goshawk, I guess.

On birding trips with
my dad as a child,

I remember him teaching me

about this abstract
thing called patience.

The word makes me think of
one of my father's photographs.

♪♪

The sparrow is caught mid-hop

at the exact moment
it picks a crumb

from a street sweeper's fingers.

The expression on
his face is beautiful.

To me, he looks like an angel.

It took a lifetime's patience to
capture that perfect moment.

♪♪

It's strange to look at these
little scraps of life up there

and know that in an aviary
quite a long way from here

is, you know, a chick that
I'm going to get to know,

and it'll be just as wild
as these birds, you know.

I'm gonna become acquainted
with one just like this pretty soon.

It's very exciting.

♪♪

[Birds chirping]

♪♪

For the breeders, the
waiting and watching continues

for about another nine
weeks after the chicks hatch.

♪♪

Only then will a parent-reared
bird be ready to train.

♪♪

I still have more than
two months to wait.

♪♪

[Birds chirping]

On a thick, gloamy summer's
evening, I returned to the nest.

The forest was dim
and vaulted green.

It felt like an
underwater cathedral.

♪♪

A n old friend, Jimmie,
was climbing to the nest.

With a BA SE jumper's
adrenaline-wired demeanor,

he looped the
rope around the tree

and began to climb
as Rob and I watched.

♪♪

We had to work as
quickly as possible.

♪♪

It's quite tense watching
him climb, isn't it?

ROB: It is, yeah.

♪♪

MACDONALD: There aren't that
many wild goshawks in Britain...

Around 450 pairs.

♪♪

Fitting chicks with
numbered rings

helps track the population.

And that's why Jimmie
and Rob were here.

Precious cargo.

ROB: We'll get them
all out together, Helen.

♪♪

MACDONALD: Oh, she's huge.

ROB: Okay. MACDONALD:
Yep. There we go.

And they're giving us the evils.

Two females and one male...

carefully assessed by Rob.

♪♪

Would it stress her out

if I just quickly held
her for a second?

ROB: No, no. That's
fine. That's fine.

MACDONALD: Come
on, then, missus.

She's a sweetie.

Look at her.

I just love at this point,

you know, they haven't
quite got their feathers yet

and they've got these fuzzy
heads like little snowmen

and these wonderfully
milky, kind of bluey-gray eyes.

They're really gorgeous.
Like little reptiles.

I'm going to smell it first
'cause goshawks smell amazing.

Hang on.

Ohh. Oh. Nostalgia.

That reminds me
so much of Mabel.

It's this weird smell. [Sniffs]

They should bottle it and
put it in perfume bottles.

But I think we should definitely
get them back in the nest now.

They've had their moment
of contact with humanity.

It's time to return them.

Okay, so she's in safe.

Ringing gives us scientific data

to help preserve
birds like these.

But there's more
to this than science.

Off you go, little ones.

These chicks will probably never
be held by human hands again.

Might not even be seen again.

But for a few moments, we
had been allowed to touch

the lives of creatures
far wilder than ourselves.

And I will never forget it.

♪♪

When I was small, the
countryside was in crisis.

Pesticides were
wiping out hawks.

Otters were gone.

Dead elm trees
were being burned.

Rivers were dying.

Everything was sick.

And we'd be next.

We lived in the
shadow of nuclear war.

I clung to hope
as hard as I could,

prayed that life would
go on, in spite of my fears.

But then I grew up,
always expecting loss.

♪♪

I did this in July 1977,
so I was 6 years old.

And it's a male kestrel,
and it's sitting on a glove.

And you have
this... I don't know.

It makes my kind
of heart go weird.

I'm really obsessed with
its attachment to the glove,

so the things that
are tying it to the glove

are really carefully drawn,

and there's a dot on the glove

that I've gone 'round
and 'round with a pencil.

It can't leave. It
can't leave me.

It has to stay here.

I had a twin brother who
died just after I was born,

and I didn't know about this,
and it was this real tragedy,

and yet here I am
summoning something...

Summoning something
that could fly away

and making sure it can't,
making sure it's with me.

It's a really, really weird
thing to look at now.

And I think that's kind
of what it's all about.

Falconry's about
things that can fly away

choosing to come back to you.

It's all about returning,
things returning that could go.

[Birds chirping]

♪♪

On a dark summer's day,
I returned to the forest.

♪♪

It would be six more weeks

till the hawk I'd
train left her parents.

But the wild chicks were older.

♪♪

The male had
already left the nest.

And soon his sisters would, too.

♪♪

I've got a bit of a
pang in my heart.

This is probably the last time

I'm going to see this particular
year's family of goshawks

before they go.

♪♪

It's really weird at this point
when they've left the nest.

There's a lovely falconry
term for it... branches,

which means they're
kind of scrambling around

branches around the nest,
and they're making little flights.

They're not really
cued into hunting yet.

You know, they're much
more interested in carrion

and the things that their
parents have brought.

So she's kind of watching
all the birds around

with kind of interest,

but she hasn't got that
kind of predatory fire yet.

But, you know, this
whole wood is animated

by that bird being there.

It make everything feel really
quite exciting and special.

[Squawking]

And these birds are going
to start to slowly disperse

and move away from this wood.

They might come back,
visit, but this is kind of it.

And it's the absolutely normal,

slow dissolution of goshawk
family life for another year.

I kind of want to salute her,
you know, and wish her luck.

[Birds chirping]

Everything's different now
from all those years ago

when I trained Mabel.

I'm in a house that
doesn't have a garden

really suitable for
keeping a goshawk in,

and I'm a different person.

I think I'm a lot
softer these days.

I guess I've kind of worked
out that death waits for us all,

and it's made me kind
of love the world more

and love people, too, more,

and I don't really want
that solitary withdrawal

from the world to train a hawk.

I want to kind of
do it more sociably.

♪♪

And so I went up to the Pennines

to meet the hawk
that I would train.

This is where she'll live,
with Kirsty, her new owner,

my friend and a fellow falconer.

She's going to be
trained differently.

She's going to be trained
in that old-school way.

Getting it used to people,

hanging out with
Kirsty and her goshawk,

just making it a much, much less

sort of miserable
and lonely thing.

I'm really looking
forward to it.

I think it's going to be a
really extraordinary experience

but very different
one from before.

♪♪

I am... Yeah, how can I
put this without swearing?

I'm pretty scared.

I haven't really trained
a hawk since Mabel,

and that was, you
know, 10 years ago now.

Mabel was super chilled
out from the word go.

This bird could be a
complete nightmare.

So I don't know whether,
you know, the box will open

and this kind of avenging
angel will come out,

desperate to sort of slay

and stress me out beyond
the limits of human tolerance.

We'll just, you know, play it
by ear, little by little, patience,

positive reinforcement,
calmness,

watchwords of training a hawk.

♪♪

People have trained hawks
for thousands of years.

A hawk must always
be tamed from scratch,

and the first step
is gaining their trust.

♪♪

I want her to take
food from my hand.

But the strangeness of
my presence scares her.

She tries to get
away, which is hard,

because it's the opposite
of everything I desire.

♪♪

I concentrate very hard
on trying to be invisible...

pretending not to be there,

an ancient falconers' trick.

This new hawk is bewildered.

She stares and stares.

Seconds slow and tick past.

[Clock ticking]

She's not happy with
this unfamiliar situation.

[Screeching]

Her wings are dropped low.

She is crouched,
ready for flight.

But she looks at the
food beneath her feet.

♪♪

It's been a long time
since I've done this,

but it's amazing.

As soon as the world
shrinks to just you and the bird,

all those kind of old knowledges

just come back
like it was yesterday.

[Screeching]

That's it.

I know it didn't look like it, but
she was phenomenally calm.

And there's a moment when
you take the hood off a fresh bird

where... this is going
to sound very New Age,

but you kind of
feel their spirit.

And, yeah, I am in love.

She's amazing. She's
really, really steady.

That was way more
than I expected.

I'm kind of a bit
freaked out, actually.

♪♪

I think, you know,
crossing fingers,

she's going to be
a really cool hawk.

That was amazing.

♪♪

Compared to Mabel,
this bird is solid.

Not just bigger, but
she's kind of strong.

She's got a really calm center.

She's immensely likable

and has already
surprised the hell out of me.

♪♪

[Birds chirping]

♪♪

Everything this bird
sees now is strange.

She can see out the window
there are ash tree leaves

kind of being
buffeted in the sunlight.

There are swallows
bombing around.

There are shadows, this
kind of polarized light up there.

Everything must be pretty
mind-blowing, actually,

so the fact that she's so calm

and is treating this with
such reasonable equanimity

is a kind of miracle, really.

♪♪

The secret to taming a
hawk is to take things slowly.

[Clock ticking]

To move gradually
from darkness into light.

Go on, have a bite to eat.

You'll feel better when
you've had some dinner.

I think I am going
to call her Lupin.

It's one of those nice names.

It sort of means the flower,
but it also means wolf.

[Animal squawking]

There's a great
tradition in falconry

that you don't
give birds of prey,

particularly goshawks,
scary names.

So you don't call your
goshawk, you know,

Slayer or Vulcan or
something like that

because sort of
superstition says

that if you give a
bird a name like that,

it'll just sit on a fence post

and squeak at
you and do nothing.

You give them cutesy names,

and then they become
proficient hunters.

So, yeah, I have a friend
with a goshawk called Bunty.

So I think Lupin
kind of fits that.

We'll just pretend
it's the flower name

so she'll become
a proficient hunter.

♪♪

Everything fascinates her.

[Bird chirping]

Lupin can see
with fierce clarity

things I can't possibly resolve
from the generalized blur.

[Squawks]

♪♪

But this new world
of Kirsty and her birds

unnerves her, too.

KIRSTY: Step up. Good girl.

Good girl.

♪♪

And so we sit
quietly at a distance

so she can see these
things are not a threat.

♪♪

Days pass, and we move through

the intricate
process of training.

Next, I want her to
jump to my fist for food.

♪♪

You cannot menace
or punish a hawk.

You must wait for them
to choose to come to you.

♪♪

The space between the fear
and the food is a vast, vast gulf,

and you have to
cross it together.

♪♪

She did it.

There was no
half-heartedness about that.

She... She was incredible.

I'm really pleased with her.

I'm really delighted
with how that went.

Couldn't have asked for better.

♪♪

[Thudding]

Come on, then, Lupin. Let's
see what you weigh today.

Birds in falconry
have a flying weight.

I guess it's a bit like boxers
have a fighting weight.

Basically if a hawk's
full of food, it's "fed up."

It's not going to
want to fly at all,

let alone fly
towards you for food,

so you have to
monitor the bird's weight

very, very carefully,

and you do that by
weighing the bird every day,

sometimes twice a day.

KIRSTY: She's doing so well.

MACDONALD: She is,
isn't she? It's phenomenal.

[Birds chirping]

♪♪

The bird's been amazing,
but it's kind of been hard, too.

I, uh, had a sleepless
night last night

and woke up in the
morning very early

and had a bit of a weep,
which I didn't expect,

and I feel a bit
like a truck's hit me.

And I guess it's that
combination of the raw stress

and responsibility

that it takes to look
after a new bird like this

and make sure you're
doing everything right

and not messing it up.

Also, you know, I haven't sat

with an untrained
goshawk on my hand

since the year my father died,

and it's kind of
brought it all back.

You know, I dreamt about him
last night, dreamt about Mabel,

the hawk I had back then.

Bit of weird time
travel going on.

And it's kind of hard.

I'm going to have to
process some stuff again.

♪♪

After Dad's death, my
grief-spurred dreams

were filled with wings.

But now I was dreaming of Mabel.

I dreamed of the hawk
that had been my refuge.

There was no regret
or mourning in her.

No past nor future.

She lived in the present moment
only, and that was my escape.

Watching her hunt
felt like gambling,

though the stakes were bloodier.

You put all your
skill, your very soul

into training the hawk,

then step back and
relinquish control.

That's the gambler's hook.

Once the dice roll, once
the hawk leaves the fist,

you open yourself to fate,

and you cannot
control the outcome.

♪♪

I had hunted with hawks for
years before I lost my father.

I never considered it cruel.

Wild hawks hunted. So did mine.

It's what hawks do.

It's what they're made of.

♪♪

Training a goshawk
and not letting it hunt

still seems to me
like raising a child

and not letting it play.

♪♪

What's really got to me

is that you can still
see on the leather here

the little tiny nicks and cuts

that were made
by Mabel's talons.

That's really strange
how history kind of inheres

in material objects.

It's kind of a bit of a
dizzying sense, really,

that she's still here.

She's still here in the
marks on this glove.

♪♪

[Fire roaring]

♪♪

Mabel was the fire I used
to burn my hurts away.

She was my way of
escaping human contact.

Training Lupin with
Kirsty is different.

I'm accepting help.

We're doing it together.

When I trained Mabel, I
really bought into that idea

that falconry was
all about solitude

and sort of monkish seclusion...

Just you and your bird,
and you know what?

I mean, the early days,
you do need to do that,

but, you know, I've been sitting
with Kirsty and her goshawk,

and we've been manning
them, taming them together

and chatting about everything.

You know, I've just realized
that that's how falconry is

and it has been, you know,
for centuries all over the world.

You know, people
train hawks together.

It doesn't have to be
this dark kind of pursuit

that it was after
my father died.

It can be something
much more full of joy,

much more full of company,
and that's a nice thought.

♪♪

Time runs forward, and
Lupin scarcely misses

a step of our intricate
training dance.

♪♪

Lupin is currently 2
pounds, 10 ounces.

You know, she's responding
really well to that weight.

She's very, very attentive.
She's feeding on the fist.

She's, you know,
completely in the right zone.

♪♪

Before a hawk flies free,

a falconry bell the size
and shape of an acorn

is fixed onto its topmost
pair of tail feathers

next to a tiny radio
transmitter mount.

These help us find the
hawk if it flies out of sight.

[Bell jingling]

All right. I know you're
a bit noisy now, but...

First, though, I fly
Lupin on a long line

of braided cotton
called a creance.

♪♪

It is both a literal
line of attachment

and something more
than material reassurance.

♪♪

[Whistles]

♪♪

[Bell jingling]

♪♪

That went brilliantly.

She's in a ferociously
good mood right now.

And so am I.

I mean, I sort of think
she's ready to fly free.

There was no real
hesitation there.

She didn't try and veer off.

She just... In
fact, at one point,

she was so desperate to come,
she didn't let me walk away,

so, you know, she
completely trusts me.

She wants to
come to me for food.

She isn't thinking
about flying away.

I think we're there.

♪♪

♪♪

I'll be really happy to
see this bird fly free.

I mean, it's the
summation of it all, isn't it?

All those bonds
and lines of trust

that you've created over the
weeks suddenly are tested.

Yeah, you sort of have
a sort of sleepless night

before you fly a bird
free for the first time.

Every single time this happens.

Let's hope it works.

Now everything is accelerating
towards that crucial point...

point in the sense of time...

point in the sense of aim...

point in the sense of
something so sharp, it hurts.

Letting the hawk fly free.

♪♪

[Birds chirping]

Well, this is typical.

The day that I planned
to fly Lupin free,

the whole valley
is buried in fog.

The problem is that if... if
she veered away from the fist

and disappeared into
a tree or kept going,

we wouldn't be able
to find each another.

You know, even though
she's wearing a transmitter,

it's going to be very hard
to sort of catch up with her,

and I'm not going to risk that,

so I'm just praying
that the fog will lift.

♪♪

Slowly, the fog seeps away.

♪♪

Okay, let's do it. Step up.

And we decide to call Lupin
to the fist once on the creance

before flying her free.

♪♪

[Bell jingling]

♪♪

Didn't quite work.
She's not quite ready.

She's at the
right flying weight.

She should really... A
s soon as the hood's off,

she should be flying towards me.

It should be an
instant response.

And she just sort of sat
there and had a look around,

like, you know, hmm.

And Kirsty and I both decided
it wasn't going to happen today.

So tomorrow...
Tomorrow's the day.

Sorry about that, Lupes,

but all's fair in love,
war, and falconry.

♪♪

[Beep]

It's always scary.

You're always frightened
it's not going to work

and she might fly away,

but I feel pretty
good about it today.

I think she's... She's
the right weight.

She's obviously
quite eager to fly,

so all being well,

we should get the hawk
back at the end of the day,

and that's... That's
what you want.

Right, you.

You know, falconry is,
in many ways, deep down

about conjuring
presence and absence.

It's about having
this wild creature

that has decided that it
wants to come back to you.

I think we might be
all right. Shall we do it?

Blood pressure goes
up. Heart rate goes up.

This is the moment.

♪♪

We have lift-off.

Big surge of adrenaline here.

Well done, you.

♪♪

That just happened.

She... She flew
free for the first time.

I'm super, super proud of her.

Yeah, really, really happy.

♪♪

[Wind rushing]

[Bell jingling]

We've reached that
wonderful point where Lupin

is what's called in
falconry a made hawk.

She's flying free.

And now what we have
to do is transform her life

from that of basically just
flying backwards and forwards

to my gloved hand

into something much
more like that of a wild hawk.

So teaching her about
wind and flying into trees

and learning about quarry

and... and the whole
kind of wider landscape.

♪♪

It's been a really fascinating
and amazing few months.

I guess a lot of
things have changed.

What wild goshawks mean
to me has subtly changed.

And what trained ones
mean, it's really interesting.

You know, I never thought
I'd get another bird after Mabel.

Mabel was the
goshawk of my life,

and, of course,
what I've forgotten

is Mabel was the goshawk
of the life I had then.

She was the bird who
belonged to a different person.

And now I've got Lupin.

She's a very different
character from Mabel,

and I love her to bits.

It's really great to
share life with her.

♪♪

I'm going to fly Lupin as
much as I can over the season.

The idea that my life is
going to be punctuated

with flickering beauty
of a goshawk's wings,

is, um... just makes me...

It's going to sound
really... really cheesy,

but it makes me feel
like a whole person again.

♪♪

Goshawks are always
going to be part of who I am,

and I'm really glad about that.

♪♪

♪♪

To learn more about what you've
seen on this "Nature" program,

♪♪