Monday, 9 January 2012

Another 'peregrine' trapped....or was it?

Adult male Sparrowhawk
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.

11 comments:

Joyce S Derby said...

Well done on another rescue, Nick! Those sparrowhawk photos are stunning.

Julie said...

Just been watching Mrs P doing a spot of housework in the scrape - looked like she was tidying the nest and checking it out for comfort. Already planning ahead?

Anonymous said...

I too noticed the "housework" going on today. Hope they don't start too early - we must be due the bad weather eventually!

Looking forward to the new season. Well done on the recent sparrowhawk rescue!

Mary T (Belper)

Sue in Bucks said...

I'm so grateful for that final "throwaway" comment Nick explaining the difference between hawks and falcons, I've often wondered and it's so simple now you explain. Mary T and Julie both comment on the possible early signs of nesting. I don't know what might be around the corner, but it certainly feels as if Spring is on the move. The light is increasing apace and the birds are so active. We have the definite beginnings of a creditable dawn chorus round here; blue tits are investigating the tit box and at a local gravel pit site I've seen the herons carrying nesting material. I've also see a (dreaded) ring necked parakeet peeping out of a nesting hole. "My" mute swan family that arrive daily at the bottom of my garden still have last years young in tow at this point although the family are getting quite tetchy with each other with much neck gripping going on; we still have to go through the process of actually seeing the young off before any thought of nesting occurs. Oh yes, and I have three robins in the garden that are having terrible battles (although I concede that this could happen at any time, not just as a prelude to nesting)
I think that the Derby pair will need to start de-feathering the nest well before breeding, it is a bit of a mess, and I suspect some help will be called for.

Sue Peregrino said...

Not much happeing on the platform, just a ton of feathers. Sue in Bucks has morphed into Sue Peregrino, just so you know. :)

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

We've just heard that our bid to HLF (the lottery) for funding for this project will be assessed on March 22nd. We should here the outcome soon afterwards.
Until then, fingers firmly crossed!
Nick B (DWT)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Some great footage of a Roman peregrine chasing starling flocks over the city can be seen on BBC1's Earthflight programme broadcast on Thursday last (12th) about 12 minutes in.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b019j59m/Earthflight_Europe/

Nick B (DWT)

Phoebe said...

I watched the falcon scraping the scrape a nice dip is forming in readiness for the coming season! Good to see!

Phoebe said...

There is a peregrine on the tower and the other just visible on the scrape RHS just visible at the very bottom of the screen. Am missing the other webcam now.

Sue Peregrino said...

I see it's roosting time at weebcam 2.
I too have everything crossed for the HLF bid. I'm into swifts as well as peregrines - and am told there's a good piece on tonights "One Show" on the telly.

padja said...

I actually watched a sparrowhawk tucking into its breakfast one sunday morning about 8:15am it was sat at entrance to Fish Market in The Cornmarket I managed to get a couple of grainy pics on camera on my phone it just looked at me and carried on eating its pigeon. Since then I now carry my proper camera just in case I get 'lucky' again