I went into Wakefield to check on the peregrines this morning. I planned to go in early to catch them feeding but I waited for the mist to clear and I got there at about 8:30. I found two peregrines on the steeple, with one of them feeding on a pigeon. After a few minutes, the other bird took to the air and then swooped in to snatch the pigeon from the other bird. There was some screeching as it did this. Unusually, this bird then went onto the small pinnacle to the left of the nesting platform to feed. It looked as though there was little more than a few bones left of the pigeon.
The two birds sat for a while and the one that had been feeding first looked to have a bulging crop but I guess that they were still hungry because they both flew away and had not returned by 11:30. They headed north and west. I wonder weather the fog of the past two days has prevented them getting as much food as usual.
As an aside, Pauline found the remains of this woodcock at the base of the cathedral so the birds are still feeding well on a variety of birds that we probably weren’t expecting! Are they taking the woodcock as they migrate at night or are the peregrines hunting a woodland at night I wonder?
woodcock remains – Pauline Brook
Just a quick note to say I spotted a barn owl flying over Carr Bridge in Ackworth tonight.
A fabulous falcon on the cathedral
I went in to Wakefield earlier today to spend a few hours getting a clearer picture of what is happening on the spire. I got some pictures but these were taken by putting my phone to the eyepiece of my telescope, so the quality is low.
I arrived at about 7:30 and I found two peregrines on the north side of the spire. The larger of the two birds was sitting near the stone feature that has often acted as a larder and dining table in the past. One of the pictures shows this bird and some of the remains in the larder. This bird had obviously just fed and it spent time cleaning feathers and gore from its talons. A few crockets above it, I noticed that a lapwing had been stashed to be eaten later.
The smaller bird was perched near the lapwing. This bird flew away for a short time before returning and starting to feed on a starling. I did not see it carrying the starling when it returned but I might have missed this as I wasn’t using binoculars at the time. The starling’s head is visible in one of the pictures..
The larger bird moved to a different crocket and spent time feeding on a woodcock. One of the pictures shows this bird after it had fed. It is possible to see the bars running across the woodcock’s head. Feathers on the larder were a similar colour to those of the woodcock, so it may be that the peregrines have taken a number of woodcock.
I remained until 11:30 but the peregrines didn’t move again. I was hoping to see them showing some interest in the nesting platform but they were obviously too lethargic after their meal. Afternoon’s might be a better time to watch for activity.
The peregrines certainly seem to be at home on the spire, with lots to eat, so it is to be hoped that they have settled in for the winter. I will try to get into Wakefield whenever I can to watch for developments in the coming months.
peregrine with larder
A lapwing in the larder
Peregrine with starling
Peregrine with woodcock
This morning two peregrines were sitting next to each other high on the cathedral spire. One bird was obviously larger than the other and must have been a female. The horizontal barring on the larger bird indicated that it was an adult. Over the next hour, peregrines took to the air occasionally and flew around the spire. During a flight by the larger bird, a third peregrine appeared and followed it as it flew past the cathedral. On one of the crockets, where the smaller bird had sat for some time, a prey item had been stashed and could be seen protruding from the crocket.
This presence of more than one peregrine is a promising sign and it will be interesting to watch for signs of interest in the nesting platform in the coming months.
With little auks being seen off the coast in good numbers over the last few days, it may not have been entirely unexpected that one would turn up inland but it was certainly a massive find for one birder at Anglers CP. Within minutes the grape vine was buzzing and the local birders were dreaming up all sorts of excuses to get out of work early to get this mega rarity on their list. It was the first record for Wintersett, though not the first for Wakefield. The bird seemed lively enough and was actively feeding for most of the afternoon but, as darkness fell and the wind became stronger, it was seen to crawl out onto the bank and huddle sown beneath a sedge tussock.
Eventually the bird was picked up and sheltered overinight before being released at Bridlington the next day where it was watched flying out to sea, Hopefully, it will have made a full recovery.