Wednesday, 27 August 2008

In Memoriam

Peregrine - adult female on Derby Cathedral. Photo by Graham Whitmore.

I hope readers will forgive me if I take a moment to note the passing of a family friend whose interest in poetry and peregrines gave pleasure to many. Ray Woodland passed away in his eighties earlier this week. A member of "PM Poets", he allowed us to reproduce one of his pieces last year, and it seems fitting to share this with you again.

The Peregrine

Swifter than swallows and straight as a dye
an elegant peregrine hunting will fly,
bright barred is his plumage, but Nature decreed
that it's hidden from laggards in bursts of sheer speed,-
he falls on his quarry as bullet from gun
and strikes ---- all is over as soon as begun,
then homeward in triumph, his prey in his claws
the bird of the whirlwinds flies on without pause
to his eyrie on cliffside or cathedral ledge
to devour his catch standing bold on the edge
in view of the watchers who envy his skill, ---
immune and indifferent, he does what he will.

Ray Woodland (1924-2008)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Logie follows Beatrice south

Logie and Beatrice are female ospreys, birds which migrate between West Africa and their breeding areas in north Scotland. Both have satellite transmitters fixed to them thus enabling their every move to be followed.
Beatrice has just crossed the English Channel, having paid a brief visit to Rutland Water while the Bird Fair was running there last Saturday. Logie has just set off from her nest, 15 days later than she began migrating last summer.
Go the Roy Dennis' website to follow these birds and others that he has tagged (including a honey buzzard which will also soon set off south too):

Nick Brown (DWT)
The photo is by Roy and shows Logie.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Juveniles out and about

It was nice to see a juvenile visible close up on pud cam just now (Tuesday 19th at 10am).

Yesterday, about 10 miles north of Derby, I watched a juvenile peregrine flying with nine ravens. They were all enjoying the updraught by a hillside, swooping and soaring with very little effort. The peregrine repeatedly dived at the ravens, causing them to croak in mild annoyance and sometimes to turn on their backs to fend off the peregrine, which was clearly just playing casually with the corvids.

This display lasted at least 10 minutes before a light shower ended their fun and games and they all dispersed.

I suspect the bird was from a local quarry where they breed and probably not a cathedral juvenile since these birds seem to stay in the Trent valley as far as we know....though we don't really know much about the movements of the juveniles of course, having had no positive sights away from the cathedral since they fledged. One seen near Spondon a week or so ago could well have been a cathedral bird but unless someone glimpses the colour ring, we can never be sure.

The photo, by John Salloway, shows the moment back in July when a buzzard flew past the cathedral and was attacked by the female
peregrine - notice how the buzzard has turned
on its back to defend itself with its feet, just as
the ravens were doing yesterday - though they lack the sharp talons of the buzzard of course.

Nick Brown (DWT)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Hobby ringing

On local TV last night they showed a hobby chick being ringed. What was unusual for a bird that usually breeds in old crow nests in trees was that this chick had been hatched 12 metres up on a high voltage pylon close to a power station.

A nest basket had been placed up there for the hobbies but I would guess the birds originally adopted a crow nest on the pylon. Peregrines also occasionally nest in such locations, similarly taking over old crow nests.

As with the New Forest hobby's (see previous post for web cam link), there was only one chick reared.

To see the clip go to and click on watch again / last night's programme on the right side of the screen.

The photo, courtesy of Ed Drewitt, shows peregrine chicks in Poland somewhere reared in an artificial 'basket' though on what type of structure I can't recall exactly.

Nick (DWT)

Saturday, 2 August 2008

watching hobby chicks

To watch two hobby chicks in a nest in southern England go to
the New Forest Gateway website where you can watch the live web cams (rather boring since the two chicks get fed only 1-2 times all day and otherwise just sit there!) or to see highlights of this and last year's action at the nest - which is frankly much better.

The hobby is the smaller cousin of the peregrine. It uses the old nests of crows and there are some 30+ pairs in the county of Derbyshire and maybe 1500 in the UK. The birds are very secretive at the nest and finding them is very difficult.

Since their numbers are low nationally - and because of egg collecting - this species has the same high level of protection as the peregrine in the UK.

Hobbies take smaller prey than peregrines - birds like larks, swallows and swifts, but they also eat large numbers of insects. In the UK, dragonflies are favoured but when in Africa in winter, they follow the thunderstorms which induce termites to fly, picking off these large insects with relish. The painting top right of a hobby chasing a swallow is by Peter Partington.
The photo shows one eating a dragonfly in mid-air.

Hobbies breed much later than peregrines.
They only arrive back in the UK from their winter quarters in southern Africa during May, lay eggs in June, hatch them mid July and fledge mid August.
Nick B (DWT)