Sunday, 18 March 2007

Peregrine, the fastest bird in the world?

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we are visited by a passing Peregrine. Before the last world war several pairs nested on the Kent cliffs but they were removed to prevent them intercepting carrier Pigeons. Before a recovery could take place most populations of birds of prey were decimated by organo-phosphorus pesticides. These entered the food chain, and birds of prey, being at the top of the chain accumulated these poisons. The most dramatic effect was to cause their egg shells to become very thin and most broke in the nest, causing many nest failures. Now the main problem for these birds is either the theft of their eggs or young or persecution.
To see these birds hunting is to witness one of the most dramatic scenes in nature, when stooping (diving) they have been timed at over 180 mph and some estimates are much higher. Since their numbers have improved they have taken to nesting on tall buildings in cities. Pairs can be seen on Canterbury Cathedral and the Tate Modern building in London.

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