Words and images by Jon Irvine:
“Whilst sea-watching off of Gwennap Head, Porthgwarra, Cornwall onÂ Saturday 11th August we watched a large all-dark falcon insecting atÂ the top of the cliffs on the other side of the cove. It wasÂ noticeablyÂ bigger and longer winged than a hobby. It was catching large insectsÂ in a horizontal flight at the top of the cliff in its talons and thenÂ feeding on them in mid-air like a hobby (talon to mouth). It also madeÂ several fast stoops down the cliff face repeatedly trying to catchÂ other prey items (small birds/insects?). When gliding gently, it heldÂ its head up above its body when searching for prey.
I took a few photos of it from considerable distance and unfortunatelyÂ it was a bit misty. The underwing shows a dark patch around theÂ coverts/axillaries.
At 3:20pm the bird flew east overhead of us at Gwennap Head (west sideÂ of Porthgwarra), over Porthgwarra cove and started hunting at theÂ cliff top about 300-400m east of Porthgwarra along the costal trackÂ towards St Levan. It continued hunting for approx. 20 minutes. After aÂ swift stoop down the cliff face it landed on a rock about half wayÂ down. I turned away briefly to try to get my scope on it but when IÂ looked up it had disappeared. We later checked the area where it wasÂ catching insects at the top of the cliff and there were certainly aÂ lot of flying bees and butterflies, but no further sign of the bird.”
Congratulations to Jon Irvine on this find and managing to capture the above images!