When it comes to speed, the peregrine falcon rules the animal kingdom. During its characteristic hunting dive, this raptor can reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour before snatching its prey out of the air. For this reason, renowned English mountain biker Gee Atherton thought he didn’t stand a chance when asked to outride a falcon named Moses on a course in Antur Stiniog, North Wales.
The video was shot for the U.K.’s Earth Unplugged and captured unprecedented footage of the peregrine’s hunting tactics.
“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,” falcon trainer Lloyd Buck said in the behind-the-scenes video.
To prompt Moses to chase him, the downhill national and World Cup champion strapped a piece of chicken into a yellow lure on his backpack.
“I think my advantage is going to be having that direction change on the track,” Atherton says beforehand. “I’m going to be riding fast downhill; there’s jumps, there’s drops, there’s turns. Hopefully I’m going to be able to stay ahead of the bird.”
While Atherton is able to evade the peregrine for several minutes, Moses eventually snatches the lure. Earth Unplugged used 12 crewmembers, 10 cameras, a remote-controlled helicopter and POV cameras on Atherton and Moses to capture the action.