The peregrine falcon is said to be the fastest member of the animal kingdom, reaching speeds of more than 200 mph during its high-speed dives while hunting. So downhill mountain bike racing specialist Gee Atherton figured to be no match for Moses in a falconry stunt pitting man vs. bird for the U.K.'s “Earth Unplugged.”
Atherton, a downhill national and World Cup champion from England, raced down a course at Antur Stiniog, North Wales, with a piece of chicken attached to a yellow lure on his back. The mountain biker zigzagged down the course, perhaps replicating a pigeon taking evasive action. Moses took off after him.
Watch as Moses hunts down Atherton as if he were a pigeon, and see exactly how peregrine falcons hunt:
"In all the years we've done stunts with peregrine falcons, this has to be by far the most successful, because usually the action is happening but you've got one camera, two at most, and you never really get the best stuff," falconry trainer Lloyd Buck said in the behind-the-scenes video.
“Earth Unplugged” pulled out all the stops to get the best stuff for this one, using 12 crewmembers and 10 cameras, including a remote-control helicopter cam and POV cameras on Atherton and the falcon.
Atherton, who appeared thrilled by it all, definitely felt hunted, saying he could feel the falcon's wings beating and its claws hitting his helmet.
"It's agility, the way it can move around and jump from one spot to the next, it can anticipate what I'm doing," Atherton said. "To see that in a bird is incredible really. It's been such a unique experience."
How did they make the film? Here's the behind-the-scenes video, if you're interested.
Photos are screen grabs from the YouTube video.