Ed has been studying peregrines, the fastest raptor in the world, for over 24 years.
What do peregrines eat?
Peregrines eat over 100 species of bird in the UK. Many of these migrate under the cover of darkness and are hunted by peregrines at night. Peregrines use the light from street lamps to see and catch birds such as water rails, woodcock and little grebes as they fly overhead.
My work on prey remains alluded to this behaviour, and it was proven when peregrines were filmed bringing back live woodcock, snipe and teal to Derby Cathedral in the middle of the night.
This research resulted in some important papers being published by myself and with fellow peregrine expert, Nick Dixon:
Dixon, N & Drewitt, E. 2012. Devon Birds 65(1)
Drewitt, E and Dixon, N. 2008. Diet and prey selection of urban-dwelling Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus in Southern England. British Birds 101:58-67
BBC Wildlife Magazine:
Drewitt, E. 2008. Meet the 24-hour falcon. BBC Wildlife 26(4):36-41
Colour-ringing Peregrine chicks
Since 2007 I have been colour-ringing peregrine chicks with the help of the British Mountaineering Council and the Hawk and Owl Trust. This is to help discover more about their movements, survival and interactions in the Bristol, Somerset, Dorset and Devon regions.
We have colour-ringed over 350 young peregrines. When the chicks are three weeks old they are given both a unique numbered metal ring, issued by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), on their right leg and a light blue plastic ring with two black letters on their left leg. The colour rings can be read from a distance without the birds having to be recaptured. The handling of the chicks is done under a special Schedule 1 licence as peregrines are protected birds of prey.
The colour rings provide a fascinating insight into the lives of peregrines. For example, a male peregrine chick ringed in Bath has been the breeding male at the same nest site for 13 years! Other peregrines ringed in the Bristol region have later been found in the Malvern Hills, the Isle of Wight, Suffolk, the West and East Midlands, Hertfordshire and in the Chew Valley.
If you spot any ringed or colour-ringed birds, please send details of the bird and its rings to ring.ac.
Ed can be contacted here.
Since 1998, I have been finding out what urban-dwelling peregrines like to eat. To do this, myself and others find the feathers, skulls, wings and legs of birds left over from where peregrines have been feeding. Each year I identify thousands of individual birds which have been eaten from sites including Exeter, Derby, Bristol, Bath and London.
Me ringing a young peregrine at Salisbury Cathedral (James Fisher)