Peregrine night-hunt caught on camera

Tuesday 12th January 2010

Derby Cathedral video is World first in showing night hunting peregrine falcons

The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project team, of which Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is a partner, claim to have recorded the first ever film in the UK, Europe and North America showing conclusively that peregrine falcons use urban floodlighting to catch prey during the night.

For some years, scientists and volunteers monitoring the spread of peregrine falcons into urban areas have found the remains of prey items which they believed to have been caught at night. Reports and articles have been published about this phenomenon, but until now there has been no film footage to prove it conclusively.

In December, a web cam installed on the tower of Derby Cathedral captured film of a peregrine capturing 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 of one of the cameras. Peregrines store previously caught food to eat at a later date, so it was vital that scientists could see that the prey brought back into camera view after dark was still alive, and had had only just been captured.

Nick Brown, a Project Partner 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. This great video is now on YouTube for the world to see.”

Councillor Joe Naitta, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, added: “We believe that the footage captured in December is the first ever taken in the UK, Europe or America where peregrines also nest in cities. As such, we believe it makes a very important contribution to the scientific study of these raptors, which now nest widely in cities on four continents.”

The video can be seen at


Story by RSWT