The Peregrine : the Fastest Creature in Victorian Nottinghamshire (2)

Last time I was talking about Joseph Whitaker and the many times he saw Peregrines in Nottinghamshire. Here is the great man:

He isn’t the only overweight old bloke with excess facial hair to have seen Peregrines in action, though.

Very early one morning in Cornwall, I once watched a Peregrine chasing a Herring Gull. The latter was so scared that it landed and walked across to stand right next to me, like somebody queuing for the bus at a bus stop.  When the falcon flew away, the gull departed a few seconds later, in the opposite direction.

Shortly after May 1, 1920, Mr Frank Hind,  one of the leading members of the Nottingham Natural Science Field Club wrote:

“A very large bird was circling high up in the sky over Gedling. From its manner of circling, and flight and the great height, I can think of no bird but the Peregrine Falcon as likely to be the one seen.”


The following account was published in the Nottingham Evening Post of April 14th, 1976:

“The pigeons in the Old Market Square in Nottingham had better watch out. For a bird of prey has been spotted on top of the nearby Council House. And it’s thought his taste for city life might be due to the prospect of a convenient meal of pigeon.
A spokesman for the Trent Valley Birdwatchers said the bird had not been positively identified but it could be a Peregrine Falcon. It was disturbed by one of the club members who was carrying out repairs to the Council House.”

pery grin1

Nowadays,  of course, this scenario is an everyday one. I wrote about the peregrines on the Newton Building of Trent University in an article entitled:

Jer Falcon. one shot at Park Hall by Mr Shelton. Now in my collection

There are live webcams of city dwelling peregrines across most of the developed world including Derby.

And Norwich

And Mississauga

And Etobicoke

The camera at Phoenix in Arizona is of very good quality:

If you get bored, go to Bowling Green in Ohio.

or Kitchener in southern Ontario in Canada.

Peregrines are pretty much the same the whole world over. They breed in every continent except one.

If you get tired of travelling the world, you could always use the webcam on the Newton Building here in Nottingham.

One of my favourite webcams though, is one that shows lots of brightly coloured American birds, and another where you can try to see the Loch Ness Monster.

Good luck  with that one.



Filed under Cornwall, History, Nottingham, Personal, Twitching, Wildlife and Nature

18 responses to “The Peregrine : the Fastest Creature in Victorian Nottinghamshire (2)

  1. The idea of the gull seeking shelter is fascinating

    • It’s certainly unusual. On the Dee estuary once we had a pigeon do the same thing. It came and walked about in the middle of a group of us in its efforts to escape a Peregrine, but that may have been a racing pigeon, used to people. That gull, though was a bright individual!

  2. Cute that the gull felt safer “at the bus stop’! haha The other day, a huge black bird was eating something in the middle of my street and was chased away by a mocking bird. Looked a little strange watching that bird flying frantically to get away from one so much smaller.

    • Similar to most sports, it’s the attitude that counts. rather than the size of the bird….up to a point. The mocking bird may well have had a nest nearby as well, and that would have added to its aggressive behaviour.

  3. Birds of prey are so majestic. There is a lake near my wife’s house in Minnesota. I would regularly sit by it on a bench and watch the resident Bald Eagles (2) soaring in the thermals and occasionally coming down to catch fish. There was also a pair of very brave crows that would ‘dive-bomb’ them and try and drive the eagles away from their nest. I feel privileged to have seen the ‘American Eagle’ in it’s natural habitat on so many occasions. Sunny hot days in Minnesota… Bliss. Thanks John.

    • I know what you mean. And eagles, in particular, are huge birds. When my daughter was young, I took her to see a Sea Eagle in Yorkshire and when it arrived on site, it was escorted by a large number of crows flying alongside it. It was just like a dark brown B-52 with a host of tiny black chase planes!

      • I saw storks nesting in Turkey years ago it was truly impressive, but nothing compared to seeing the Bald Eagle. One amusing aside, a girlfriend and I went to Warwick castle a few years ago and their Eagle Owl escaped. He flew into a nearby fir tree and sat there all day watching the tourists. Eventually he was tempted back with a tasty mouse, but again, it was a pleasure to see such a wonderful bird of prey. Thanks for these post John, I wouldn’t call myself a ‘twitcher’ but reading your articles is increasing my interest considerably.

  4. Didn’t one of the UK’s councils bring in birds of prey as a way to control or deter pigeons? Somehow it rings a bell!

    • Standard procedure now, especially on runways and the grass areas around them. Mostly, they use Harris Hawks which are desert birds from Arizona and New Mexico. They are apparently easy to tame and enjoy the work. In the middle of cities, the wild peregrines who nest on cathedrals and other high buildings have solved the problem at no cost to the tax payer!

  5. We were with the kids playing rugby at Lady Bay one day when I heard a familiar sound overhead – there was a peregrine circling. I would love to report it then swooped and made off with a scrum half, but sadly it just flew away.

    • People have the most extraordinary ideas about what birds of prey can kill and transport. A Cornish farmer told me that he wanted to have Buzzards culled because they killed and carried off his lambs. On a more serious note, though, we have a real problem with hen harriers and Golden Eagles. Only 1% of Hen Harriers have successful nests because gamekeepers kill them and up to half of the Golden Eagles have gone the same way. There needs to be a system whereby government grants depend on the continuing presence of wildlife.

      • Yes, I saw some figures about the success of Red Kites in England and Wales compared to Scotland – clearly 100s of kites are being killed. Access to grants would be a start. Prison may be better.

  6. Picturing the gull at a “bus stop” made me laugh. The other day I saw two Robins fall to the ground in a wrestling match most likely being such the two had their eyes on the same female. I had no idea Robins were that aggressive. Watching birds fascinate me. Oh and the other day I was out in a forest when a Chick-a-dee landed on my extended finger to my extreme surprise and delight. I think my open mouth caught some flying insects I was just so in awe. I could not believe that happened, but it did. LOL

    • You must be a Snow White figure to have a Chick-a-dee land on your finger! Robins are very aggressive birds, which is a characteristic that most people do not ever get to see. They regard them as beautiful and familiar birds around our houses, but like people, they can have their darker side, particularly when a female is involved.

  7. I remember awhile ago of an article mentioning about Dutch police using birds of prey to take down drones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.