Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Peregrines attacking buzzards

BBC 1 TV's The One Show had a feature from Exeter where the local peregrines that nest on St. Michael's Church in the city have taken more than a dislike to any buzzard passing nearby.
So far, Nick Dixon, local peregrine expert (and also advisor to our Derby project in its formative stages) has found 15 dead buzzards close to the church, all having been attacked by this one pair of falcons.
The birds work cooperatively. The male comes in first and the buzzard flips over to fend it off. As soon as the buzzard rights itself, the female dives in and sometimes hits it with her talons. It is this impact which kills their bigger enemies.
At the time of writing the latest episode (Tuesday 15th) isn't yet available on iPlayer but it will be quite soon I think. The feature is about 10 minutes in:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tcw7/episodes/player .

The footage the BBC got of the peregrines jointly attacking a buzzard is rather distant but remarkable nevertheless. The ferocity and speed of the peregrines' attacks are extraordinary.
Well worth watching if you are in the UK (overseas folk will be unable to get BBC I think).
In Derby people have witnessed our birds attacking a passing buzzard at least once, but they didn't press home their attacks and the buzzards, although clearly rattled, continued on their way unharmed.
A few years ago, Jon Salloway obtained some great photos of one of the buzzards turned upside down with its talons pointing upwards trying to fend off the attacking falcon.
Derby peregrine attacks a passing buzzard
turned upside down to fend off its attacker.
Photo Jon Salloway
Buzzards have a very wide food spectrum ranging from worms (they eat a lot of them) to rabbits, voles and birds, including chicks taken from nests - so the peregrines' eagerness to keep buzzards at bay is quite understandable.

Nick B (DWT)


Phoebe said...

I watched the One show episode and found the footage very exciting. The speed of the peregrines was clearly shown. I didn't know they could be so territorial!

ren13 said...

drat the copyright issues. ridiculous i cannot see a segment from a news show...

Phoebe said...

Try again here


Nick B (DWT) said...

Thanks Phoebe....
Today I entertained a three folk from Leicester who were keen to learn from our experience with the peregrine project over that last nine years. We went up the tower, stood on the Green and drank coffee and ate cake in the cathedral cafe as we chatted about peregrines, hobbies, holidays and much more....altogether a very pleasant afternoon with people of like mind. Peregrines are now nesting in central Leicester city though not on as iconic a building as here in Derby.
Anyway, I wish the team well in their efforts to engage the local city people with their birds (which raised two chicks last summer I gathered).
Nick B (DWT)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Ps. Both adults were on the nest platform mid afternoon today - though the male soon flew off....
I'm sure all the juveniles have now left the area. Let's hope they are all still alive and well! Perhaps they are visiting Leicester, who knows!
Nick B

Phoebe said...

Hi, good to hear they have peregines in Leicester! Would be lovely to know if any are from the Derby strain, especially that year we had no ringing... it is so possible.

I was not able to get to the Cathedral this year but have every intention of getting there next year.

Lorraine said...

Still seeing the parent birds regularly, with nightime/early hours usually being the falcon with occasional sightings of the tiercel below the scrape ( as he is right now! )

Sad news article on TV yesterday, alerting the high number of peregrine falcons that have been found shot down over the last year. To aim a gun at these birds, let alone actually pull the trigger is beyond comprehension. It made me so cross I ended up in tears.

Saw some footage on YouTube of a peregrine attacking and taking down one of those "spy camera" aerial gadgets - very funny. Also enjoyed the footage of the two falcons protecting their territory from a buzzard, but glad they let it go unharmed !