Peregrine watching in Wakefield

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

woodcock remains – Pauline Brook

Great northern diver in Mirfield

I’m well out of the birding loop these days and I’ve only just got wind of a long staying great northern diver at Lady Lakes in Mirfield which has been there for about 5 months! Thinking there might be a photo opportunity, I nipped over there and sure enough I saw this amazing sub-adult great northern diver. I couldn’t understand why it was in Mirfield in June and not in Scandinavia along with the rest of its kind until I saw it feeding. On every dive it brought up a large crayfish, presumably signal crayfish, and heartily scoffed them down. Living on a rich crayfish diet like that must outweigh the long flight north :¬)

The bird regularly surfaced right in front of the anglers on the lake but would not come up in front of me and my camera! I managed a few grab shots before being thrown off the lakes by the owner – only fishermen are allowed on. So, if you go along, stay behind the otter fence and you are fine. Lots of black-tailed skimmers there too.

great northern diver in Mirfield

great northern diver in Mirfield

great northern diver in Mirfield

great northern diver in Mirfield

great northern diver in Mirfield

great northern diver in Mirfield with crayfish

Wheatear in Wentbridge

I had a trip to Brockadale today to see where the cowslips were at but they are still not through yet despite the warmer weather. Another week or so should really see them showing strong. On the way back I drove beneath Went Hills at Wentbridge and noticed a really bright female wheatear there.

After lunch I hit Newmillerdam to see if there were any nesting great crested grebes but didn’t find any. It was rather quite in general to be fair, though I did hear chiffchaff singing and saw at least one large terrapin basking in the spring sunshine. The mute swans were busy nest building only a few metres from the bank and way too close for the 500mm I had with me!

mute swan at Newmillerdam