Peregrine.

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WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO OF SEVERED PIGEON HEAD BELOW!

Until very recently, I’d never seen the Peregrine falcons which nest on Lincoln cathedral, and have raised a total of 13 chicks since 2007. I’d always known they nested there, but for whatever reason I’d never gone looking for them.

My first sighting came accidentally during a recent trip to Lincoln castle. A fellow ‘Peregrine Virgin’ and I were walking along the top of the castle walls when we suddenly spotted a couple of birds of prey in the sky above us. They were soon joined by a couple more, and we realised they were a family of peregrines. Probably two adults with their young. The young treated us to a very entertaining display as they honed their hunting skills by repeatedly dive-bombing one another, hurtling through the air screeching all the time.

As we walked back along the castle wall, we suddenly noticed a rather grotesque severed pigeon head lying on the wall. It definitely hadn’t been there a couple of minutes earlier, so presumably the peregrines had just made a kill and left a little present for us!

A few days later I was back near the castle during the early evening, and heard a screeching peregrine passing overhead. I looked up and saw a falcon chasing a pigeon at about treetop level past the water tower. I asked my uncle about this, and he said that almost all the time peregrines will attack their prey from above, using stealth and incredible speed to take their victim by surprise. Perhaps this one was a young bird who didn’t quite understand the rules…

If you’re in the Lincoln area any time soon it’s well worth heading up to the cathedral and castle to have a look at the birds.

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