Peregrine over Doncaster

On Thursday 16 December 2021 I visited Doncaster’s *Danum Gallery to inspect the Mayor’s Bog-oak Chair in advance of a proposal to date its timbers by means of dendrochronology. This impressive if bizarre piece of furniture is grandly exhibited among notable specimens relating to the River Don of yesteryear such as the 9ft Sturgeon which had been speared with a pitchfork by William Taylor in July 1860 at Barnby Dun and briefly ridden like a surf-board as it attempted to migrate upstream; a very fine Otter in the process of eating a Brown Trout; a sky-pointing Bittern and an 11½ lb female Salmon found expired after spawning in the Don at Doncaster in December 1995.

Although the gallery was temporarily closed to enable staff to install new display material, I was kindly allowed access to briefly inspect the chair.

Later, at 3.30pm in ‘Café 1910’ on the ground floor, the views overlooking the traffic snarl-ups on the Chequer Road/Wood Street/Waterdale roundabout were relieved by sightings of birds going to roost. These included passing Blackheaded, Lesser-blackbacked and Herring Gulls, Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies, Blackbirds, Starlings and Street Pigeons. In counting the town centre Pigeons settling on the west-facing roof ridges of the towering ‘JobcentrePlus’ headquarters on Wood Street, the 80+ strong flock suddenly exploded into flight being under attack by a Peregrine Falcon which made two unsuccessful but impressive stoops through the panicking birds.

*The Danum Gallery, the re-purposed Doncaster Girls High School, is the new display area for Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery.

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