There was very little on the roof (someone had been cleaning up I suspect) and also the tops of the 'grotesques' on which the peregrines often sit and leave prey remains were also almost devoid of anything except for the head of a teal - well out of my reach.
However tucked away in the lead spout at the far end of the east side (as seen from the 'pudding' camera that looks across the ledge), there was the corpse of a recently taken wader.
I managed to pull it out and quickly identified it from its size, grey colouring and wing pattern as a knot, a small wading bird.
|Left wing of knot showing its wing bar|
|The knot's leg (tarsus) and foot|
In summer the breeding birds turn red underneath which explains their american name - red knot. It's scientific name is Calidris canutus, named after King Canute who famously tried to defy the incoming tide. These waders run along the tide edge and hence the connection.
The link below shows a knot in winter plumage in flight so the wing pattern can be compared:
(More photos and videos of knots can be found at http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/red-knot-calidris-canutus and on a BBC site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Red_Knot )
The corpse did not smell but wasn't completely fresh so I would guess it was caught the night before last (5th-6th) but obviously I can't be sure. I've not checked to see yet it that ties in with any observations reported to the blog.
Knot are very rarely seen on the ground in Derbyshire and since they migrate at night, I would be confident that this bird flew over Derby after dark perhaps on its way from The Wash to the east to somewhere on the west coast - an easy overnight journey for such a bird. Sadly for the knot, it didn't make it.....
We have recorded knot as prey here at Derby before on eight occasions (this being the ninth) and I recall the species has also been found at Coventry in the West Midlands.
UPDATE 10th November: screenshots taken by Phoebe last night showed a female teal as prey. This small duck is regularly on the menu (except in summer). The photo below shows the green speculum feathers and some of the white bars above and below them:
|Pair of wings from a teal found a few years ago at the cathedral|
Update 12th Nov: a woodcock that had flown into a Derby window and broken its neck was made available to me yesterday. Here are some photos of this beautifully plumaged bird. It is considerably larger than the knot and much heavier too...so more of a meal for a peregrine.
|Woodcock - what wonderful plumage!|
Many get shot or have accidents while migrating or on arrival here (like this one). A relatively very few are taken by peregrines.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. The adult male was on the nest ledge when I arrived and the female on Jurys Inn. No sign of a third bird.