Fast movers

Fast movers

Peregrine falcon © Bertie Gregory/2020VISION

What could plants, birds and insects possibly have in common? Well, the wildlife here might look different but they all have the ability to move VERY quickly!
Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon © Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Peregrine falcon

All hunters must be fast to get their next meal, but the speed this bird of prey travels to grab a bite is simply bonkers! From a great height, they stoop (drop at high speed with wings tucked in) onto their prey. Whack!! They can kill their unfortunate victim (most often a pigeon) instantly. They’ve been recorded reaching 200mph in a stoop - the speed of a Formula 1 car! 

Black and red froghopper

Black and red froghopper © Rachel Scopes

Froghopper

These little bugs have quite a spring in them! They use their strong back legs to propel themselves to escape predators. They’re common in gardens, so see if you can find one and watch it leap. They create ‘cuckoo spit’ (the frothy stuff found on plants) which their young use as a protective coat. 

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam © Gillian Day

Himalayan balsam

This seems like a pretty ordinary plant, often seen by rivers and streams. However, the flowers pack a surprising punch. The ripe seed pods are highly elastic, so with just the slightest touch from a raindrop…. BOOM! They explode, sending the seeds far and wide.

Dragonfly nymph

Dragonfly nymph © Niall Benvie/2020VISION

Dragonfly nymph

Young dragonflies (called nymphs) live in ponds and usually walk around quite slowly. When they’re threatened, though, it’s another story. They squirt water at great speed out of a tube in their bottoms called a “syphon”: propelling them away to safety like a little torpedo!

Queen scallop

Queen scallop © Paul Naylor/marinephoto.co.uk

Scallop

They may not look like fast movers, but these guys have a surprising trick up their sleeve if danger threatens. They rapidly clap their shells together, causing them to rise from the seabed and through the water to safety. That is one speedy shellfish!

Cuttlefish

Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

Cuttlefish

These weird octopus-like creatures normally move the frill of skin that surrounds their body to travel. This is quite a slow way of moving so when they need a swift retreat they can fire water out of a tube on their face. At the same time, they shoot a cloud of ink into the face of their enemy!

Pheasant

Pheasant © Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Pheasant

You may think this striking game bird has been included here for its flying abilities, but oh no! Pheasants are actually very clumsy fliers but are the UK’s fastest feathered runner. They can reach speeds of up to 40mph when escaping danger!  Pheasants are such good sprinters because of their strong legs and feet.