Peregrine Falcons first nested on Derby's Cathedral, England, in 2006. Our Peregrine Project is now run by a partnership between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby City Council, Derby Cathedral and the Cathedral Quarter. Here is what's happening in 2014. . .
This afternoon (9th January) I received a phone call from Tony Grantham. The owner of a florist shop just down the road from the cathedral reported finding a 'peregrine' trapped behind anti-pigeon netting, tucking into a dead pigeon.
Following my pre-Christmas rescue of a male sparrowhawk at the massive Westfield Shopping Centre, I had my suspicions that this bird might also prove to be the same and not a peregrine.
I set off for town with gloves and a capture box not knowing what I would find. It was getting dark so I took a powerful torch which, as it happened, proved very useful.
The shop owner, Shirley, took me to the back of the premises where a large cage of loose netting had been set up to stop the local pigeons from fouling everywhere.
A guy from another shop which also backs onto this netted area was already trying to coax the bird down and out through an unzipped 'door' in the netting, but to little avail.
I immediately realised that the bird was indeed a sparrowhawk, its bright yellow eye shining out at me when I shone the torch on the bird
Adult female sparrowhawk
Now with two of us working together we could keep it moving about until it landed lower on the netting and within reach. After a few false attempts, the bird was easy to catch and then release through the gap in the netting.
It flew off strongly into the sunset, none the worse for its ordeal but perhaps somewhat chastened!
Sparrowhawks are occasionally seen from the watch points in the summer and I've once seen one perch momentarily on the cathedral tower. This rescue and the one at Westfield made it clear to me that these little predators are frequent visitors to the centre of the city, with feral pigeons probably their main prey target.
Afterwards I headed over to the cathedral to find both adult peregrines warming their feet on the Jurys Inn signs....it was good to confirm that they were both OK.
Nick B (Wildlife Trust)
The top photo shows an adult male sparrowhawk. Note the yellow eye and lack of black moustache.
The lower photo shows a female sparrowhawk (photo courtesy and copyright of Pauline Greenhalgh). Females are bigger than males but lack the red colouration below and the blue above.
Sparrowhawks (and goshawks) belong to the group of round-winged 'hawks'.
By contrast, peregrines, along with the kestrel, hobby and merlin, are pointed winged 'falcons'. More on this in a later blog post.