Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fearful Beauty

That's one of the famous Bath, resident Peregrine Falcons above, taking a break atop the church which we see outside our kitchen window (badly taken with my compact but adorable Olympus camera).

The tallest church spire in Bath is the main Catholic church, and this is where the Peregrines breed every spring, on a purpose-built platform (called a 'scrape'). They have been breeding there for quite a few years, and the year before last, the mother mated with one of her own offspring because something happened to the father which caused him to never return. They know this because they ring the chicks. There are the bones from birds of every feather littering the ledges and gutters below - during breeding season, the pair will kill at least two birds a day.

They will always choose the highest places to sit or roost, probably because of their hunting technique. They fly to a great height, and using their incredible eyesight, choose a single bird to attack, then dive on it at speeds of around 200 miles per hour. The combination of talons and the impact of them against the body will usually kill the prey outright, but just to make sure, they continue descending at great speed until they hit the ground, using the prey as a buffer. This will finish off any vestiges of life in their target. I have never yet seen a Peregrine 'stoop' like this, but a friend of mine saw one crash into the middle of a busy street here, look around for a second or two, then take off again with it's dinner.

Shortly after I took this picture, the Peregrine took off from the spire and, batting it's scimitar-shaped wings, flew low over our house at about 100 miles an hour.

The fastest creature on earth also has a breathtaking beauty that is always found in the best quality weapons, whether they are swords, guns, or jet aircraft - no wonder the nomadic Arabs treasure them so highly.


  1. You like the wildlife stuff, don't you Sarah!

  2. Colonel Barnstaple would name it Tom, after you.

  3. So, both Peregrine Worsthorne and Peregrine Falcon are left-footed Catholics eh?

  4. I have only seen one attack once, down the hillside at prestatyn....unbelievably fast!

    hope you didnt mind the havers comparason!

  5. Mother Nature couldn't care less how beautiful you are.

  6. Havers, Schmavers, John. (you wait).

    Well, if Mother Nature didn't care how beautiful I am, Jacqueline, how come all the women swoon over me?

  7. Ah, now I know that it was a good idea to let the pigs borrow my underpants for a week, before I went out for the night in them.