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Posts Tagged ‘ed drewitt’

The sea is a mysterious place – millions and millions of gallons of water home to marinelife both above and below the sea’s surface. I am at my most relaxed and chilled when I am on a boat watching anything from dolphins to birds. And a bird you can almost guarantee to see is the Gannet. It is huge, very white and definitely my favourite.

Image of a Gannet by Richard Towell Flicr

Its’ long body, pointed wings with black tips and summery yellow head make it unmistakable. The bill is the Gannet’s most important tool. When they find a shoal of fish they hold their wings back and become a straight, pointed dagger. Dropping at speed, they plunge the water, catch their fish and rise to the surface to eat their prey within seconds.

This year I went out on a boat to see thousands of Gannets breeding on the small island, Bass Rock, in Scotland. It was certainly a sensory experience. The smell (very smelly and fishy!), the sight (a spectacle), the sound (a grating cacophony) and the taste (seasalt on your lips).

If you’d like to see your own Gannet watch from a coastal vantage point looking out to the horizon, get out onto a special boat trip or if you don’t like boats watch young Gannets currently still in their nests at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

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Ornithologist (bird expert) Ed Drewitt gives us an overview of the urban peregrine – the once persecuted predator that we have welcomed back into our city homes.

The Peregrine is a bird of speed, power and grace. And wherever you are in the UK it is likely there is one in a town near you. As natural sites have become saturated with nesting Peregrines new breeding birds have moved into towns and cities, trading in rocky crags and sea cliffs for tall office blocks, cathedrals and pylons. In some cities such as Bristol you are more likely to see a Peregrine than a Sparrowhawk, Kestrel or Buzzard.

Urban Peregrine – photo courtesy nebirdsplus

Crow-sized, they can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour in a lightning speed dive in which they strike prey with their sharp talons. It is often assumed they just eat pigeons – in fact these only make up half of the diet in urban places. Peregrines also dine on birds from woodland and garden birds to small gulls and wading birds. When the daylight fades and street lamps switch on, Peregrines work a night shift catching nocturnally migrating birds such as Woodcocks, Little Grebes and Water Rails.

Peregrine in Flight – photo courtesy Larry Meade

Look out for Peregrines on tall buildings in town and cities – they perch towards the top on a ledge or gargoyle. In flight their wings look fluttery and effortless.

Click on these links to check out Ed’s appearences doing extreme bird ringing and visiting the urban peregrines of Bath for the BBC.

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