Although I have practiced and enjoyed most field-sports my great love in life is falconry. I was bound to either love it or hate it as I was brought up around falcons and falconry, as my father, Roger Upton is one of the oldest and most enthusiastic participants of the sport, being very well known around the world as an accomplished falconer. I started as a youngster when my father gave my brother and I a jack merlin each. My brother soon lost interest but I enjoyed the sport and was soon hooked, flying both with some success.
My first peregrine was given to me by my father when I was in my mid twenties. He was a large peregrine tiercel, bred from a very good falcon, Rona, which my father was given by Christian Saar from Germany. I called him Oliver Twist. Recently he passed away at the age of 21. He was the best hawk I am ever likely to own, catching the first grouse he saw and flying extremely high from the very beginning. He was a natural and taught me every thing I know about grouse hawking. I am a great traditionalist, and practice the sport as it has been done for centuries. I think most modern training methods are a waste of time and it is far better to train a peregrine quickly. As soon as it has come to the lure a couple of times get it out onto a grouse moor and serve it with wild quarry. I have only trained four peregrines of my own and they have all flown high and killed grouse well. My second peregrine was a female, given to me by my god-father, the famous falconer Stephen Frank. I called her Peggotty. She took much longer to get going then Oliver Twist but ended up a beautiful high flier, going to very high pitch, using a lot of sky and dominating her grouse. She was a very hard hitting falcon and killed well with great footing. Unfortunately she died last year at the age of 17.
Oliver over the years had many offspring. Most with a very good falcon of Umberto Caproni’s called Laura. All have become good grouse hawks and some exceptional, especially the tiercels. I gave the first two tiercels to Martin Jones (Mark II) and Eckart Schormair (Tolacus). The next tiercel I breed from them I kept and called The Artful Dodger. He is now 12 and although smaller than his father is a very high flier and great footer. He doesn't have quite the punch, his father had, being smaller. He has gone on to breed some good hawks. My latest hawk is a new tiercel, a son of Tolacus, given to me by Eckart Schormair. I have had him two seasons and he waited-on high from the third day. He hasn't killed many grouse, as we have been enduring some very poor grouse seasons lately.