Coventry Cathedral’s peregrine falcons

James Macdonald Lockhart visited Coventry Cathedral in his wonderful Raptor: A Journey Through Birds.

From the bench I watch the male – the tiercel – leave his perch and circle out in a wide arc back to the spire on Holy Trinity. A flexing flight, a pirouette: no intent to it. He lands on the spire’s weather vane and his landing sets the vane rotating. Every few seconds, as he spins around the circumference of the spire, the tiercel’s profile changes, black wings rotating through the mottled white plumage of his chest. The vane keeps on spinning like this, absorbing the force of the bird’s landing; for several minutes the whole city lies under the tiercel’s rotating gaze.

I get up off the bench and walk around the perimeter of the cathedral ruins along the adjoining streets. In drains and gutters lining the cathedral’s walls I find the detritus of falcon meals: parcels of bone stringy with dried sinew, feathers matted with skin, a pigeon’s claw with a turquoise ring around its ankle.

He skilfully threads into their story, the destruction of the town by the the Luftwaffe in 1940.

Rugby’s urban otters

Dr David Gregory-Kumar goes in search of the otters returning to our inner city waterways in Rugby. He is joined by Peter Sanders from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust searching for a family of otters in this urban area. They spot three otters on special cameras, proving that otters are back living in built-up areas in the West Midlands. BBC Video Read

Tolkein influence

J. R. R. Tolkien lived near Mosley Bog, Birmingham as a child, and acknowledged the site, today a small nature reserve, as inspiration for the ancient forests in his books The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In
In 1966, in an interview for The Guardian, Tolkien stated):

It was a kind of lost paradise … There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill. I always knew it would go — and it did.

More on Tolkein’s Birmingham locations here.

Curiously, the reserve hosted the first ever International Dawn Chorus Day event in 1984.