This ultimate avian apex predator is always a joy to photograph, with such distinctive markings it’s a photographers dream, especially when the bird in question is tethered to a perch! The Peregrine (hence the hobbit reference!) Falcon is the fastest of all bird species and could teach a fighter pilot a thing or two about high speed ambush and pursuit.
When a Peregrine has located it’s target, more often than not a surprisingly quick pigeon, it’s ariel bombardment commences in what is called a Stoop. The bird folds it’s wings close to it’s body and aims itself on an interception point for it’s prey. With speeds in excess of 200mph, only a quick witted prey item (this rules out the pigeon then!) will be able to perform the necessary air manoevers to evade capture from this bullet like ballistic bird.
With the introduction of pesticides like DDT finding it’s way into the Peregrine’s food chain, the UK saw a decline in the numbers of resident breeding pairs. DDT was, indirectly, causing the thinning of the walls of the birds eggs which were then easily broken by brooding parent birds. No longer used, the Peregrine has made a successful return in numbers and what was once thought of as an incredibly rare bird may well be much closer to you than you realise. A breeding pair have made an office block in Reading it’s home, and I have witnessed one of the individuals harrassing a huge flock of seagulls roosting on a lake near the town.
The bird in this picture was photographed at the International Bird of Prey Centre, and had just been fed (again, another hint at the title). Confident enough that no-one was able to take it’s food, it didn’t exhibit the usual extended wings around the food source, known as mantling. Mind you he’d probably just seen me come out of the Cafe and knew I wouldn’t fancy chicken.