A PIGEON fancier in Ellesmere Port fears a local deadly predator will kill off his beloved sport.
Peregrine falcons in Merseyside present ‘too big a problem to endure’, according to Geoff Blackhall.
He said: “I have seen six of my baby pigeons taken by peregrine falcons – straight from my pigeon loft.
“It’s so frustrating to see this happen and be powerless to do anything.”
There are about 50 pigeon fanciers in the Ellesmere Port area who fear letting their birds out for exercise or race will result in them being injured or killed.
Geoff added: “I have personally experienced many peregrine attacks on my birds recently, as have fellow local pigeon fanciers.
“Three months ago I moved to the area from South Wales and already have lost eight young pigeons to hawks.
“I only started letting the birds out three weeks ago.”
He says the problem is experienced by fanciers across the country.
Geoff and other local pigeon fanciers say the pigeon attacks from peregrines are on the increase due to manmade nests being introduced on public and commercial buildings to encourage birds of prey.
There are reported to be two pairs of peregrines nesting on the roof of the nearby Vauxhall factory.
Geoff said: “We have also heard of plans for more peregrine nesting sites to be introduced on council buildings in the town centre and on the tall building in the local docks.
“The safety of our birds is under serious threat and we can’t see any way to protect them from a fate now almost inevitable.”
Pedigree pigeons and song birds are diet staples of the peregrine falcon.
Geoff explains that when peregrines attack pigeons in flight it isn’t just one bird that is affected.
“They might only catch and kill one or two, but the other racing pigeons will often end up damaging or killing themselves in their desperation to get away,” he said. “Pigeons will panic and dive into the nearest area to try and escape – it’s not uncommon for them to panic fly into trees, buildings or the ground.”
Racing pigeons are also known to fly hundreds of miles in the wrong direction to escape, leading to exhaustion and becoming lost.
Geoff believes the installation of manmade peregrine nesting sites in cities and towns should be stopped, or at least reduced, to protect racing pigeons.
He added: “We are extremely attached to our birds. Just like any cat or dog owner would be distraught if their pet was attacked or killed, so are we when our pigeons return attacked or worse, dead.”