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Derby Cathedral video proves peregrines hunt by night

Footage from the top of Derby Cathedral proves peregines are able to hunt at night

Scientists in Derby have proved that peregrine falcons hunt at night.

One of the Derby peregrines was filmed bringing back live prey - proving conclusively the birds hunt during the hours of darkness.

The camera, on top of Derby Cathedral, captured film of a peregrine returning with and killing a woodcock.

The bird had been caught in flight and can be seen struggling to get free on the top of a stone gargoyle situated in front the camera.

It was previously known that peregrines store food to eat later. Seeing the bird leave the roost and return minutes later with prey which had only just been caught was an important milestone for scientists.

Perergrine on Derby Cathedral
The peregrines first nested on the cathedral in 2006

The camera is one of several installed on the city centre building as part of the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.

Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: "When looking at the web cam it was clear that, instead of roosting, a peregrine was very much in hunting mode.

"The bird flew out of view of the camera but returned minutes later with prey which was obviously still alive, proving conclusively that it had only just been caught."

The Peregrine Falcons first nested on Derby Cathedral in 2006. They raised three chicks in that first year, with two more following in 2007.

In 2008 four chicks hatched - but it's thought only three survived. The birds also had a brood ofchicks in 2009.

Now, each year, thousands watch their progress via the internet and visit the cathedral in the hope of catching a glimpse of the new family.

The nesting platform is about half way down the tower and the falcons regularly take local, wild birds for food.

They have a magnificent view from the top of the tower - enabling them to see prey all over the city centre.

It's known that peregrines have roosted and hunted from the tower over the centuries until, in the mid-1900s, their numbers suddenly declined.

The pesticide DDT was found to be the cause of the problem as its use resulted in a thinning and subsequent cracking of their egg shells.

The pesticide was banned and the birds' numbers began to increase again as they became a protected species.



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