A routine clean-up of Derby Cathedral’s roof, has revealed the remains of Swedish-ringed Arctic Tern. The amazing discovery was made among other prey items left by the pair of peregrine falcons that nested on the tower directly above the roof.
Nick Brown, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Education Manager, said: “Finding a wild bird with a ring on its leg is an extremely rare event but to find that the ring was a Swedish one was even more exciting! The inscription read 4392757 Riksmuseum Stockholm.”
Nick thinks that the tern was probably caught about the end of April or early May when a large group of Arctic Terns passed through the Trent Valley.
Nick said: “I contacted the Swedish bird ringing office who told me that this ring was put on the leg of an arctic tern chick on an island off South West Sweden in June 2002. That makes the bird almost five years old. During this time, it will have migrated back and forth to and from the Antarctic five time, a journey of almost 100,000 miles! According to the British Trust for Ornithology, this is only the ninth record of a ringed arctic tern from Sweden in the UK since 1909.”
Head Verger, Tony Grantham, said: “Cleaning the drains and gullies on the roof has suddenly become a much more interesting job for us at the cathedral. The emerging story of the wide range of prey that the peregrines have been catching is fascinating.”
So far the remains of 41 species of bird have been found at the cathedral since recording started in Spring 2005. The list includes five species of duck, eleven of waders, quail, water rail, little grebe, swift and waxwing as well as more common species such as starling, blackbird and magpie.
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Photo: The actual Arctic Tern's leg, with ring (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)