Who killed the Manxie?
Mark E Turner
As I have been recording local Peregrine activity since I first found a tiercel roosting on Pershore Abbey in April 2005, I was naturally intrigued when I first heard about Richard Stott’s Manx Shearwater casualty via Harry Green last spring. (Stott 2010).
Nowadays with raptors doing so well, you can bet if anything odd turns up it will often end up as lunch. Our Pershore Peregrines (yes there is now a pair) I have known to feast on a range of birds including Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, a Swift was a real trophy kill and infrequently recorded by past observers/authors, but mostly feral pigeons are the staple diet.
Manx Shearwater as a prey species is well within the capabilities of Peregrine, but is certainly noted by past observers as unusual. The 2009 Devon Bird Report mentions Manx Shearwater as prey taken by resident breeding Peregrines at St. Michael’s Church in Exeter, but says it is an unusual inland record. Derek Ratcliffe states Manxies as unusual inland prey species taken by Peregrines in the Scottish Highlands, relating to overland migration or ‘wrecks’ of maritime birds.
However, I would not rule out female Sparrowhawk as a suspect since having witnessed big, feisty Wood Pigeons being knocked out of the sky in the past, a sickly Manx would be no contest at all. Interestingly though, very recently I discovered a fresh undamaged corpse of a hen Pheasant at Broadway Gravel Pit Local Nature Reserve with identical injuries sustained by the Manxie. We have no recent records of Peregrine from that well watched area and I am not inclined to suspect Common Buzzard in either of the above cases.
Devon Bird Report. 2009. Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society.
Ratcliffe, D., 1980. The Peregrine Falcon. Poyser.
Stott, R.D.E., 2010. Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus in Pershore. Worcestershire Record, number 29:41.
Turner, M.E., 2007. Hawkwatch, North Cotswolds to Coasts, 1988-2006.