Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Peregrine prey - latest finds
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)