Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

Photograph captures mid-air moment a peregrine plucks a puffin from the sky

A photographer has captured a once-in-a-lifetime image of a peregrine falcon plucking a puffin out of the sky. Dan Howe, from Bridlington, East Yorks, was in the right place at the right time to photograph the instant the bird of prey seized its hapless victim off the Yorkshire coast.

Dan was birdwatching at the 330-high Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington, East York, on Thursday afternoon when the dogfight between the birds unfolded in the skies.

The peregrine, which can dive at more than 240mph, snatched the smaller bird mid-air and as Dan’s photograph, which was seen in the Bridlington Echo, shows the puffin can be seen grasped in the talons of its attacker.

But it seems the protesting puffin may have lived to flap another day as Dan said it appeared to have escaped. Only around 20 percent of adult peregrine falcon hunts are successful.

Dan, 31, who uses a Cannon R7 mirrorless camera, said he had just seconds to get the amazing photograph without the tracking settings on his device switched on.

He said: “It was terror when the moment happened, all of us who were watching were like ‘oh damn, it’s got a puffin’.

“I knew what the peregrine had done straight away, but I’d not actually got my camera set up properly, so I had the wrong tracking mode set up.

“Because of that I was very lucky to even get just one photograph, but you only need one. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

“I haven’t the foggiest idea how the puffin got away, but it did, it got away because it wasn’t with the peregrine afterwards.”

According to the RSPB website between April and October, the huge white chalk cliffs at Bempton are transformed into England’s largest seabird city, where puffins, gannets, kittiwakes and guillemots live life on the edge.

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