Falcons causing unholy ruckus in Nenagh
A pair of raptors that are currently nesting close to the top of the spire of Nenagh’s main Catholic church have the community rapt with attention.
The sight of the male and female peregrine falcons circling in the sky high above the lofty spire of Saint Mary of the Rosary Church is drawing wildlife and bird enthusiasts to the area, as well as amateur photographers eager to capture pictures of the feathered creatures.
One such individual is Jake Mitchell (15), an amateur photographer from Cormack Drive in the town, who has been bowled over by the sight of the pair.
Jake told The Guardian: “I was in the church last week when I heard a loud sound. Multiple people were looking up at the church spire and I had my camera with me and got some great images of the peregrine falcons.
“I didn’t know what kind of birds they were at first but when I googled it on my mobile phone I discovered they were falcons. A man who happened to be in the church at the time also said they were peregrine falcons who appear to be nesting close to the top of the church.”
Jake said he got a huge reaction after he posted his photos on his Facebook page. “The messages I got were phenomenal, people absolutely loved them.”
Jake said there are the signs of a number of remains of dead pigeons in the grounds of the church, leading to speculation that these birds may be prey for the falcons.
The presence of these birds of prey has provided one of the best ever photo opportunities for Jake who has been taking pictures since he was a young boy.
Local bird watcher, Philip ‘Birdie’ Talbot, told this newspaper that the falcons were targeting pigeon because it was one of their favourite foods.
“A peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world when swooping on its prey, capable of travelling at speeds of 180 miles per hour,” said Philip, who was nicknamed Birdie by his classmates in primary school in the early 1970s because of his deep interest in ornithology.
“The reason why the falcons probably have selected the spire of the church for their perch and nesting is that they can look down and selected their targeted prey from above,” said Philip.
He revealed that his daughter, Nichole, witnessed one of the falcons swooping down from the sky above the church on a pigeon just last week. “The poor pigeon was lying on Church Road and somebody passing in a car stopped to shoo the falcon away. But it would not have mattered at that stage because the pigeon would have been dead after being hit at huge speed,” said Philip.
He said the falcons were currently creating “quite a ruckus” and from what he could establish an adult was now teaching its offspring how to hunt in the area.
Philip, who is proprietor of the long established Talbot’s Menswear store in Mitchel Street, said the falcons were known to bring their dead prey to ledges on the nearby Nenagh Castle which they used as “plucking posts” to strip the feathers from carcass before eating it.
He said peregrine falcons were under threat during World War 11 after they were culled in great numbers when it became clear they were found to be killing carrier pigeons that were vital to the war effort. Today many were residents of towns and cities, most probably because their once rural diet was being impacted on by intensive agriculture practices. “You can be sure their appearance in towns is due to human intervention. “
They are a bit like the foxes and becoming more urbanised because there are more food sources available to them in towns and cities,” said Philip.