Red kite battles with peregrine falcon above Norwich Cathedral

The peregrine flying above the red kite, with the kite turning on its back to flash its talons in a show of strength

The peregrine flying above the red kite, with the kite turning on its back to flash its talons in a show of strength - Credit: Chris Skipper

A Norfolk couple have captured on camera a stand-off between a red kite and Norwich cathedral's peregrines - with the latter claiming victory despite a wingspan half the size.

Chris Skipper and his wife Kim, from Costessey, saw the red kite encircling Norwich Cathedral yesterday, May 2 at around 9.30am.

The red kite was spotted flying above the Cathedral yesterday - rare for a bird that usually scavenges in the countryside

The red kite was spotted flying above the Cathedral yesterday - rare for a bird that usually scavenges in the countryside. You can just make out the peregrine who had taken the prey up to the cathedral spire to distract the kite from his chicks - Credit: Chris Skipper

He said: "It was absolutely amazing to see the red kite because they hardly ever fly over the city. It was such a rare moment.

"The way they hunt is by scavenging, and there's very little to scavenge in the centre of Norwich.

"But it was there, and it just kept circling and circling overhead. I imagine it was after the prey the male peregrine had been feeding his chicks.


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"The female wasn't there at that time, so the male took a risk, left the chicks and carried the prey to the top of the cathedral spire - probably hoping it would distract the kite from attacking his chicks.

"At that point, the male went for the red kite. The wing span size difference was quite startling. The red kite's wing span is around 6ft, while the male peregrine's is only 3ft."

The female peregrine circling the sky above the red kite in an effort to move it along

The female peregrine circling the sky above the red kite in an effort to move it along - Credit: Chris Skipper

The red kite's wing span is almost double that of the female peregrine

The red kite's wing span is almost double that of the female peregrine - Credit: Kim Skipper

The red kite turning over to face the female peregrine flying above it

The red kite turning over to face the female peregrine flying above it - Credit: Chris Skipper

The female peregrine (above) and red kite in battle

The female peregrine (above) and red kite in battle - Credit: Chris Skipper

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Mr Skipper said it was not long before the female peregrine, GA, came swooping in to save the day. She is by far the bigger and scarier of the two.

As the male peregrine patrolled the sky between the kite and his chicks, the female launched her attack from above.

"She just kept going at it", he explained, with the red kite eventually "legging it" after being successfully moved along by the falcon duo.

And not only that, but the altercation reminded Mr Skipper of a similar event in May a few years back, when the peregrines at the Cathedral were also caring for their newly-hatched chicks.

That occasion involved a buzzard rather than red kite - but the outcome was the same.

Buzzard and peregrine locked in battle

A picture from Chris Skipper's archives: here a buzzard turns over and shows its talons to the peregrine flying above it, but is no match and eventually moves along - Credit: Chris Skipper

A picture from Chris Skipper's archives: here the peregrine flies above the buzzard in an effort to scare it off

A picture from Chris Skipper's archives: here the peregrine flies above the buzzard in an effort to scare it off - Credit: Chris Skipper

He said: "Often when another bird of prey flies in the peregrine's territory the peregrine will fly above it in an attempt to scare it off.

"I remembered a great picture I'd taken a while back of that exact phenomenon.

"You can see from the picture that the buzzard has its talons out in a show of strength, but it's no match for the peregrine.

"As long as the peregrine is the one flying higher, they can pretty much take on any bird and win."


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