It’s one of the fastest flying birds on the planet, able to plunge and grab its prey in mid-air with power and accuracy. Scotland is an excellent place for peregrines, from the heart of some cities to quiet moorlands and islands.
What to look for
The peregrine has a bulky body (dark above, pale below) and large, angular wings that can have a curved outline in flight. It is sometimes quite vocal, with ringing ‘kee-kee-kee’ calls. Close-to, dark feathers curving down over the cheeks look like a moustache.
Across many developed parts of the northern world, peregrines suffered massive declines between the 1940s and 1970s. This was due to poisoning from pesticides, such as DDT, used on farms and now banned. Pollutants in the bodies of female peregrines caused thinning of their eggshells, so that the eggs broke during incubation. The British population has now more than recovered from this setback.
When and where to see
Peregrines can turn a talon to a wide range of bird prey, including seabirds, pigeons, wading birds and grouse. So moors in summer, estuaries in autumn and winter and seabird cliffs in spring and summer are all good hunting areas and places where you could see one. Roads across extensive heather moors, such as between Deeside and Strathspey, can be good vantages.
For more information see the RSPB's peregrine page.