Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Peregrine prey - latest finds

Kingfisher
Yesterday afternoon (27th) I helped Tony G (Head Verger) clean up the nave roof, a job we do annually after the breeding season is over. The falcon was sitting on the edge of the platform when we emerged onto the roof, probably asleep since we were able to walk down from the roof's apex to the lowest part and out along the roof before she even noticed us.
Of course when she did see us she made quite a noise, flying off directly onto the Jury's Inn lettering. As soon as she made her alarm call, the male, who had been on Jurys Inn, set off and circled towards the tower but veered off before coming even half way (he's such a wimp!). No immediate sign of any juveniles by the way.
Prey remains were spread about, most having been washed or rolled down to the gullies at the edges. Fortunately

it has been dry for several days so the remains were not as smelly as they can be.
Among the species noted were teal, moorhen, little grebe, snipe, lapwing, golden plover, mistle thrush, quail (shown left), several starlings, fieldfare and great spotted woodpecker as well as pigeons of course.
We also found (see above) the head of a kingfisher (and later its body), this being a first for this species in Derby (though it has been found as prey elsewhere several times).
These peregrines certainly like to have a varied diet. So far we have found over 50 species of bird represented - that's a very wide food spectrum.
Some of you may find this rather disturbing but peregrines (like most humans) are predators. They feed only on birds caught in flight (with the one notable exception of a rat brought in for the young a few years ago). It's what they do, they have no choice in the matter. We may wish that they would refrain from taking the more 'attractive' and rare species but their hunting is often opportunistic so they catch what they see in front of them, wherever they are.
This spread of prey species means that they don't make any impact on the numbers of one particular species, preying on different birds without simply eating one kind monotonously.
Having said that, our Derby birds do have a liking for wading birds. We now have 12 wader species on the list....remarkable for a site with so few suitable wetland habitats nearby. Many (eg woodcock, godwits, knot etc) were probably caught as they migrate over Derby at night.
Quite why they bother catching such small birds as blackcaps and even goldcrests is a mystery. Perhaps they like the challenge or perhaps they just can't resist a small 'snack'.....who knows.
We certainly know that our adults hunt by night, using the floodlighting in Derby to spot birds flying over the city. Of the above list, little grebes and the quail were almost certainly caught in this way, both being strictly night fliers/migrators....
Nick B (DWT)

30 comments:

KerrySuffolk said...

Oops, sorry I miss read the post!

Appologies to Annie F.

Jon Salloway said...

Great update Nick.
Having spent many hours photographing kingfishers with Ian and Cliff we know how difficult it is catching them in flight with a camera. They mainly fly 1m above the surface of the river making this a high risk catch for a peregrine. Do you or anyone else know if peregrines are able to take flight from water in the same way the osprey does?

Jon S

Helen said...

Really interesting watching a juvenile mantling on the nest platform a few minutes ago. It had it's wings spread right out over the prey it brought in. It certainly wasn't going to share it with one of the adult birds that was sitting on the other side!! It didn't start to feed properly until the adult had flown off. Amazing to see how their behaviour has changed in just a few weeks.

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Hi Jon: an interesting observation and question!
I would doubt that a peregrine would ever deliberately alight on water and I have no idea whether it could take off again if it did. I would rather doubt it. It would probably flap to the water's edge and then dry itself off before being able to fly properly - maybe...
Quite why a peregrine would fly just above the water in order to catch a kingfisher I also don't know. Kingfishers do occasionally fly well away from water and higher up too so perhaps this one was caught in a less dangerous place? There's so much we don't know about these birds isn't there....
We suspect that they come down to the water's edge somewhere to bathe quite regularly, again maybe on a gravel bank in the river or by the side of a lake or gravel pit but no one has ever reported seeing this - now there's a challenge for you photographers - take a shot of our peregrines bathing!
Nick B (DWT)

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

One juv up on the north side of the tower yesterday afternoon calling very loudly for food, the falcon sitting on the east side, but no sign of the tiercel.
Nick B (DWT)

Joyce S Derby said...

While I was standing in the cathedral car park this morning (Friday 29th), I could see two peregrines up on Jury's Inn, south face, about 8:30am. One was calling loudly. Then I noticed another peregrine circling overhead, then it flew towards the cathedral. I didn't have my binoculars, so couldn't tell whether they were juveniles or adults.
Just now (10:05am) there is one on the grotesques with its back to the camera.

Craig said...

Thank you for the updates.

Terry, Herts UK said...

For anyone suffering from Peregrine Webcam Deprivation, don't forget there's always our dear departed Froona's blog to fall back on.

Full of photos, videos and a goldmine of information.

click

AnnieF. said...

@ Terry;
Thanks, good thinking! such a loss to the peregrine world, but what a legacy Froona gave us.

Ian said...

Six shots from Sunday morning 31-07-2011 @ 07;12 Have been added to the Flickr page showing Juvenile Peregrine 014 leaving the north face of the Cathedral tower on it's way to the aerial system on top of the Rivermead House Flat's.

Also Thanks for the reminder Terry.

Regards Ian

Mo Cole Belper said...

9.30am Monday....Mr/Mrs P on ledge...x

AnnieF. said...

Looks like a juvenile perched on the scrape ledge lhs, preening.

AnnieF. said...

Is that another juvenile on the tower? I can't see it clearly.

AnnieF. said...

There's a juvenile on the tower looking agitated, opening its beak a lot so clearly calling. No sign of intruders so it's probably yelling for a meal!

Anonymous said...

Falcon on right hand cam!!

AnnieF. said...

Once again I believe I can see a juvenile on the tower, just in front of the water-spout & facing this way.

Mo and Pete Cole said...

Hi.....Been on ''The Green'' today but no Peregrines to be seen...oh well it was a bit hot.... x

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

I walked up in to town from Alvaston on Sunday morning, and it was a delight to follow the course of the Derwent from Pride Park right back into the heart of the city centre. For much of the way I was accompanied by the sounds of Sand Martins along the river. (And the blackberries were tasty, too) When we got to Cathedral Green I could see one of the adults high up on the the east side of Jury's Inn. Stupidly, I had forgotten to bring my binoculars , though my guess was that it was one of the adults.

There were flowers, notes, a photograph, a very touching poem and a long, yellow ribbon tied to a tree on the Green. So we stopped to read the many messages left there in tribute to a young man who had suddenly and unexpectedly left his friends behind on this earth. The tributes were moving, and our thoughts were with him and with all those other young people who had loved him, though we knew him not ourselves.

I left, pondering how it can be that such a small flake of one creature's life can have such a profound effect on another.

Nick M.

Audrey (UK) said...

Falcon on right hand cam.......

Jane (Belper) said...

Don't think they're too impressed with the inclement weather - there's a group huddle going on up on the tower - three of them up there - good to see them still around.

Joy said...

10.12a.m. peregrin on left hand side of scrape lots of feathers on the right hand side

Joyce S Derby said...

08:45 Friday 5th
From the Cathedral car park we could see one peregrine on the nest ledge and another on Jury's Inn lettering south face. There was a lot of screeching, so we thought that maybe a juvenile was calling for food.

11:35
One peregrine on Jury's Inn lettering east face

AnnieF. said...

Adult on scrape ledge lhs. At least, I think it's an adult - yellow legs & feet, horizontal front "stripes", yes? if not, excuse me, I need new specs ...

AnnieF. said...

Two on the tower - an adult with its back to camera, a juvenile I think ( though the lens is murky) facing.

Terry, Herts UK said...

@Annie et al

It's difficult as the juvies grow older to tell them from the adults on the cams. So, I Googled your description, "yellow legs...etc", and thought I'd share this handy guide. It's a bit off topic (sorry) but might raise a smile and there's no harm in that.

Identification chart

KerrySuffolk said...

@ Terry

Great! Thanks! Don't know that it will help with identification of peregrins, but I am now well up on identifying monsters!

AnnieF. said...

Terry, you're a star! Kids have such wonderful powers of observation, & those monsters are a joy.
Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Is there something particularly attractive about 'letters'?

Whilst on a visit to Nottingham this morning I happened to spot a juvenile Peregrine perched on the capital 'A' of the Arc building on the the NG2 commercial estate, close to the Mercedes dealership. Despite a close look through binoculars it was not possible to see the leg ring, so I can't be sure whether it was one of 'our' birds, or a fellow peregrine from the Nottingham brood. Whichever it certainly appears that letters on buidings are a favourite perch.

Joy said...

Peregrin on right hand side of the scrape 6.45p.m.

Phoebe said...

There is a youngster close up on the tower cam and I can see another peregrine behind but cannot make out if adult or youngster. Very nice!