On Saturday, just yards from the peregrine watch site, we were met with this grisly scene.
It was obvious something had been killed here and on closer inspection of the feathers, it looked to be a woodpigeon.
Being so close to the peregrine nest, immediately made us suspect the killer to have been a peregrine.
However, as Tom, the Peregrine Protection Officer explained, peregrines hunt in open territory, where they can reach their record breaking speeds of 200 mph. The fact this murder had been in the woodland, ruled out the peregrine as a suspect.
Scott, Conservation Assistant, took a closer look at the remains of the woodpigeon. He noted the feathers had been plucked out, meaning the murderer must be a bird of prey. He explained that if the ends of the feathers had been chewed, this would suggest a fox had been the culprit.
With these suspects ruled out, we deduced a sparrowhawk was likely to be the killer. These birds of prey are adept at hunting in enclosed spaces, such as woodlands.
The fact that a woodpigeon was the victim suggests it was a female sparrowhawk. Like peregrines, female sparrowhawks are larger than the males, so can take larger prey, such as woodpigeons.
Like the best detectives, you don’t have to see wildlife in action to work out what’s been going on.
Rhian – Seasonal Ranger