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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Pigeon fans' fury over falcon threat
Peregrine falcons' nest
The remains of a tippler pigeon were found in the nest
Pigeon fanciers in Bristol claim the city's peregrine falcons are killing hundreds of their birds every year and ruining their sport.

The remains of a tippler pigeon were recently found in the nest of a pair of breeding falcons in the Avon gorge, near the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The search also found the remains of a young green woodpecker and the feather remains of jackdaws, blackbirds and a song thrush.

Now a group of pigeon fanciers in the Knowle West area of the city is calling for drastic action, including the removal of nests.


There aren't so many twitchers watching them now on the gorge as there were - the novelty has worn off in that respect but we are always fanciers - this is our lifetime hobby.

Bill Tucker - pigeon fancier
Bill Tucker, secretary of the Knowle Invitation Tipplers Society said: "All my birds are competition flyers.

"You've got to give them special food and train them right. some of these birds are lucky to be alive - I had to literally sew one pigeon up.

"If the peregrine doesn't grab them and kill them on the wing, the damage they do is unbelievable."

The Bristol club had gone from 35 members down to just four, in the past few years, said Bill.

"The peregrines are doing over 120mph and our birds are easy to catch so they don't even bother with the racing pigeons.

"Maybe if they could move these peregrines down to the coast it would be better.

"There aren't so many twitchers watching them now on the gorge as there were - the novelty has worn off in that respect but we are always fanciers - this is our lifetime hobby."

Peregrine falcon
Peregrines were almost extinct 50 years ago
Ed Drewitt, Bristol schools liaison officer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, (RSPB) said the birds were an amazing success.

"Fifty years ago they were almost extinct. Since then they've come back and we have to celebrate the fact that the falcon is doing well.

"It's coming back into all its old niches and it's doing that naturally because there's plenty of food around.

"They take the pigeons because the Avon gorge pair have three chicks that need a lot of food.

"I do sympathise with the pigeon fanciers but their birds are easy pickings.

"There are a variety of deterrents we are looking at - including even putting eye shapes on the backs of the pigeon and making the lofts more secure.

"But out of all the prey that is taken in Bristol city itself, only 45% is pigeon and of that percentage just 23% was racing pigeon, so it's actually a very small percentage."


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

25 Jun 02 | England
09 Jun 02 | N Ireland
04 Apr 02 | Wales
03 Jan 02 | England
13 Dec 01 | England
30 May 01 | UK
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