The Hungry Peregrine

Recently, I was lucky enough to get the chance to see Wakefield as not many get a chance to.  I was not feeling so fortunate, as I huffed my way up the last of the countless, spiralling steps, but the view at the top was worth it.

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But why was I up there? The vista was stunning, but it was not my main aim.  This day heralded the arrival of our Peregrines’ very own bird box camera. Imagine a Big Brother-like live feed, but educational!!! (at the time of writing, in the short time it has been up, we have captured some fabulous moments)

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Image courtesy of @wfldperegrines

Needless to say, Mr & Mrs Falcon were none too pleased at this intrusion, even if it would make them the envy of all the neighbours (not sure where their nearest are, but our boy himself, was fledged in “nearby” Sheffield).  We caught sight of  at least one of the mated pair wheeling in the distance, no doubt keeping an eye on these latest developments.

As people fiddled with wires of many colours, my eyes returned to the remains on the floor, what clues could they give us to the lives of our Peregrines, what have they been eating?  The were pellets, feathers, feet (ew!) and skulls, lots of skulls, and it was these skulls that tell us the most.  They can be used to distinguish between bird types in the absence of plumage and markings.

Peregrines like to hunt on the wing, mostly catching their prey in the air.  They feed almost exclusively on medium sized birds, it is said that a 5th of the world’s bird species are predated on by Peregrine Falcons; I feel another blog post coming on!

So what birds, in particular, do the Wakefield Peregrines prey on? My mysterious contact managed to procure for me, a  number of specimens:

A Eurasian Teal

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Eurasian Teal

And a Woodcock

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Woodcock

These are just two of the many species there is evidence of up there. Creating these pieces was a fascinating process, appealing to both my artistic and science sides; The juxtaposition of Life and Death, a beautiful symmetry. I will be continuing this series of Peregrine Prey pictures with at least two more sets of images. Watch this space!

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