Friday, September 9

Natural Pigeon Control

A few weeks ago, Martyn spotted a promotion for a bird of prey display that was to take place in a park fairly near to us. What was more the advert stated that there would be the opportunity to handle some of the birds.

We are always up for this sort of opportunity and even had the chance to fly a barn owl some time ago.

Regular visitors may remember (or maybe not) that last year we had the chance to handle another barn owl and a kestrel.

Both birds were incredibly light being more feather than anything else.

This time the first bird that we had the chance to handle was a peregrine.
Peregrines are our fastest flying bird reaching speeds of up to 60 mph in level flight and maybe up to 200 mph when in a dive.
The peregrine weighs about twice as much as a barn owl.
It's a beautiful bird and it was a treat to get up close to one.

Pigeons are a major prey item which is maybe one reason that peregrines have taken to city life. A pair of peregrines have nested on the tower of Wakefield cathedral for two years now to the detriment of the feral pigeons that strut about in the precinct below.

I wonder whether any of their offspring will travel to our allotment site and control our wood pigeon population.

At end of the afternoon, the peregrine was put through its paces.
Having caught the lure it wasn't at all keen to relinquish its prize.
Also at the display was another UK bird of prey - the red kite. This bird wasn't offered for handling. Maybe its expression says it all.
This individual was moulting and so didn't have the pronounce forked tail that identifies red kites in flight. There is now a self sustaining population of red kites in Yorkshire.

Believe it or not, however, there are some individuals that thinks it is a sport to kill them!

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ you may remember seeing a photo of the other bird that we handled. Although this bird isn't one of our native birds, I'll share her photo again here.
This hooded vulture was a heavy bird. Hooded vultures weigh in at 1.5–2.6 kg (3.3–5.7 lb) so the lightest of these birds weighs over three times as much as a peregrine. 

PS I've just realised that I missed my own 10th blog anniversary on 30 August. How careless is that? So just a quick thank you to everyone who follows my blog whichever way you choose and special thanks to everyone who takes the time to comment so that I know someone is out there!


22 comments:

  1. Beautiful images Sue! It is interesting to see how peregrines have adapted {sadly, gulls have too} We regularly see red kites down our way too, although I don't think they are breeding here ~yet. We had a buzzard perching in nearby trees for months during nesting season as there is a nearby rookery where he was snacking regularly. I adore birds of prey.
    p.s. just followed you on FB, didn't know you were there!

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    1. Incredibly people are still persecuting them, Deborah. As they are mainly scavengers they are easy prey to poisoned carcasses. We see the odd buzzard over the plot.

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  2. Stunning photos, Sue. I really enjoyed seeing these birds up close.
    And happy Anniversary on your blog. What a milestone!

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  3. Wow - 10 years...that's amazing! A big congratulations sent out to you, Sue!

    Beautiful photos - that vulture is sure a funny looking guy (girl?). Don't think I've ever seen such an up close and personal view of one before.

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    1. The vulture is a girl, Margaret. We certainly got up close. Surprisingly she has a very pleasant nature unlike some of the other birds of prey.

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  4. Fabulous birds and many congratulations on 10 years.. that's quite an achievement! Your posts are always an excellent read Sue, I've learnt so much. Here's to many more.

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  5. It's always such a privilege to see birds like this up close, they have such compelling stares don't they, and they seem to exude the wilderness. Fantastic pictures, I particularly enjoyed the one of the peregrine covering it's prey, birds of prey always do that in the rescue, it takes a brave soul to get past that stance! Loved the red kite and the hooded vulture, I haven't seen one of those before.xxx

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    1. I don't know how true it us, Dina but at one display we were told that a fireplace mantelpiece got the name as it surrounds a fire in the dame way that a bird of prey mantles its catch.

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  6. Beautiful birds and fabulous photos. What a success the red kite breeding programme has been, we often see them around now. Congratulations on your blog anniversary.

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    1. It certainly is a success, Jo. I just hope the idiots that kill them don't wipe them out again!

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  7. We also have loads of Red Kites round our way now. Over the last few weeks we have been very conscious of Owl activity too, which is unusual for us.

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    1. Unfortunately we don't have much evidence of owls in our area, Mark

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  8. Lovely photos of the birds, we have a place close to us Called 'Eagles Flying' to try to go there at least once a year.

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    1. Thanks you Anne, There are lots of bird of prey centres about when you look on TripAdvisor and we enjoy visiting them. To get to hold the birds is a bonus.

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  9. Beautiful photos Sue! We are lucky to have owls around our place, and lots of Red Tailed Hawks which keep the rodent population down. They are such majestic and fierce looking birds when you see them up close.

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    1. I can never resist taking lots of photos of birds of prey, Dave they are superb subjects.

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  10. Lovely photos Sue. We have a pair of kites near us and i often see them flying over head. I've never been able to get a picture though...maybe one day I will be lucky enough!

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    1. Glad tomhear thar you have red kites too, Tanya.

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  11. What a treat to get so close to these lovely birds. It gave you the opportunity to take some great photos too. I did a hawk walk last year and also got chance to hold a beautiful barn owl. Etched in my memory.

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