While searching for the Green-winged Teal which still can be seen on the pond E1 in the sewage farm Münster, I was also able to observe and photograph a successfully hunting Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) a young Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus).
With binoculars I watched from the hide at the entrance to the E1 and saw gulls, ducks and waders. There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls in the area, some already in courtship mood, some mating. Suddenly a tumult arose and the sky was filled with white birds. Black-headed gulls rose into the air and shouted very excited. It turned out that a Peregrine Falcon came low over the water surface in pursuit of his prey -to-be, a juvenile Common Black-headed Gull. I focused immediately on the scene with my camera with a long telephoto lens on top of a tripod.
The falcon was just before the final strike, as the gull dropped into the water. Whether the approach was too fast, is hard to judge. Anyway, the Peregrine Falcon took advantage of the speed to obtain height and rose again to attack gull on the water again. Again, the gull dropped into the water just before the falcon could catch her. The gull recovered quickly and flew away. The Peregrine Falcon was not successful for this time. He curved for a while into the sky to gain height. The juvenile Black-headed Gull had been lucky. The other gulls made a lot of noise and still flew around; a conspecific even went to the Falcon. The gull attacked recovered and – you almost cannot believe it – now pursued in turn its former hunter. It began a hunt of almost two and a half minutes. In this consequence the fast bird of prey pursued the gull finally in a fast-paced flying low over the water. The Gull tried the trick again and let she dip into the water. But this time the Falcon waited over the gull under the water and flopped down on the diving / floating gull to push it under water. Whether he tried to kill her by drowning or tried to kill her with the claw of the hind toe in the back was not apparent.
After that, life for the young Black-headed Gull was over. In short, the falcon took on the gull, just to let her fall after a few meters. Than the Peregrine Falcon flew – the dead body leaving on the water surface – from the pond and turned around. Finally, the Falcons went back and lifted with the victim without apparent effort. He brought the prey to an island. Then the feathers of the gull were plucked. Feeding you could not see because the Falcon felt harassed by 2 Carrion Crows (Corvus corone). The Falcon departed for a quieter place to feed. Only now a conspecific of the gull felt obliged to follow the Falcons calling loudly. More photos from the attacking Peregrine Falcon can be found in the gallery.
A remarkable event. Gulls are perhaps not regarded as typical peregrine prey. But as the South Wales Peregrine Monitoring Group researched over the years the prey of Peregrines include species like Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull and Kittiwake. The study area for records of prey of Peregrine Falcons was in southern Wales. Waders are very well represented with 16 species identified as prey, as well. Also, four types of terns, Sandwich Terns and Common Terns were detected as prey of the Peregrine Falcon, too. As you can see, the spectrum is therefore quite large.
The distance was quite large, so that the photographer came along with a series of photos of proof only.
The trip had been worth the time invested. Another highlight of this rather cool day with sunshine and rain was an Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit seen on E1. The Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa islandica) stood in the middle between “normal” black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa limosa) in the eastern corner of the pond. The hit was of course the male Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis).
From the Rhine -Ruhr – area the abandoned sewage ponds of Muenster are easy to reach. Especially in the spring is it always worth a visit, as the area is known as a birding hotspot. The Nature Reserve “Rieselfelder Muenster” is located about 6 km north of the center of Muenster. This wetland is an important resting and moulting area for migratory birds.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western Palearctic. The image you find in the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.