Monday, November 17, 2014

City Wildlife

I am currently exhibiting a new collection of paintings of wildlife in Yorkshire and after claiming that this county is teaming with incredible species I was challenged by Radio York to see what could be found in York city centre.

Before I took the radio interviewer on a wildlife tour of the city, I decided to go out on a 'reccy' and was delighted when one of the first things I spotted was a peregrine perched on  a gargoyle on York Minster.

There turned out to be a pair there and I got this shot of the male and female perched on either side of the north window of the main tower .

I spotted a pigeon skeleton draped over a gargoyle (pictured on the right hand gargoyle, above) and realised that the pinnacles of this impressive medieval cathedral are the urban equivalent to a precipitous cliff and represent a great vantage point from which to hunt pigeons.

I watched the male as he eyed a flock of pigeons that had just landed underneath him. Then he started to flap his wings deliberately to frighten the pigeons. As they set off the peregrine lurched off the gargoyle into a spectacular stoop.

As the pigeons plummeted to the ground, tumbling and twisting through the air and swapping positions to confuse the peregrine, it dropped behind them with its wings pointed like a fighter pilot.

I could hear the wind rushing through the pigeons' wings as they pulled up over a small tree above my head and then I caught the sound of wind shooting through the peregrine's wings as it pulled out of its stoop .

He had missed but no doubt he would be back again.

The experience was so exciting I decided to return later to see if I could get more shots to paint from. I have painted a peregrine before, see above, but I am now considering a new painting with the Minster ramparts as a backdrop!

And if the peregrine sighting wasn't good enough I then toured the rest of the city and watched a sparrowhawk hunting a pied wagtail right above the heads of shoppers along Parliament Street!

I also saw a pair of goldcrests and a flock of long-tailed tits in Museum Gardens. It's incredible how much wildlife there was to be found in the centre of the city and how few people seemed aware of the lives of the species all around them.


  1. Great story and photos. I look forward to seeing a painting of the scene.

  2. I know it will make a great composition!