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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Parliament






August 23rd


As I have mentioned before I am not getting to Parliament as much as I would like to, other commitments and especially the weather have marked the number of visits this year.
With all the gear needed, Bin’s, Camera and Telescope it has to be by car which means weekends visits otherwise it’s a case of a weekday congestion charge visit.
On top of that during the week , outside of Parliament it is very busy as you can imagine, also having to pay to park around Westminster can be an expensive exercise, in short it would cost a few bob for a weekday visit.

Last Saturday I at last got a chance to catch up on the pair and hopefully the 2 juveniles, arriving at my usual time around 5.30am.

Located both adults at roost on Victoria Tower, they soon emerged and took up station to hunt, the Falcon went to Big Ben and the Tiercel disappeared, possibly to a favoured hunting area.

I positioned myself on Westminster Bridge and waited for the Falcon to begin hunting, light at that time was not great but was getting better all the time.
There is one shot that I have been trying to get for a good few years, that is of one of the peregrines speeding past the London Eye after prey. All depends on the direction of the hunt and location of the prey, also my lens – F4 300mm is not really man enough for the job. The reach is better with a 1.4x convertor on but trying to keep a lock on a speeding peregrine, in not so good light can be very frustrating, it just won’t lock.
I have got one of the Falcon going past the Eye but it was far too distant and taken from a lot further away.


Falcon just about viewable,she's the dot on the right of the 'crown'

The shot I am after.




Just about to go

After prey




Anyway it didn’t matter as all of her hunts went north or west, the bridge is east of Big Ben so the hoped for shot never materialised, also no prey was taken.
Of the Tiercel there was no sign during this time, possibly having taken prey for himself and feeding on some distant building rather than carry it back.

As for the juveniles not a sign either so they could possibly have gone, it looks that way, with earlier breeding in London it seems earlier dispersal as well.

I also met a very nice couple taking their wedding photos in the morning, prior to their wedding, on Westminster Bridge against the backdrop of Big Ben and Parliament.




If you read this, all the best, congratulations and the very best of luck for the future.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Devon





Have just returned back home after a short but hugely enjoyable 3 days in Brixham, myself and Christine have always enjoyed the County and try and get here as much as we can.
Port of call has always been Brixham, the fish restaurants are a must and if you go there, I can recommend Simply Fish in the Harbour, the fish and chips is out of this world.



A very impressive crab in Brixham

Of course I got out for a few hours here and there and walked the cliffs and fields and kept an eye open for Cirl Buntings, not a bird I see a lot but I have had them on the coastal paths in past years. I know there are certain areas I could drive to see them and they are more or less guaranteed but this was just casual birding and walking.

Out with the Larks one morning, nothing like a dawn at sea.


Chiffchaffs seemed to be everywhere on the coastal paths and looking out to sea produced numbers of passing Gannets and also pretty close Harbour Porpoises, Fulmars as well were pretty active including some with full grown young.
I watched one adult repeatedly passing the nest site close trying to lure the juvenile out but he or she was having none of it, like kids they will walk when they’re ready.

Both seen regular - Gannet and Fulmar



Although only grabbing a couple of hours each day, It was inevitable that I would see Peregrines, a Tiercel one morning hunting low over the fields, not on anything but looking like he was trying to flush something and a nice female on another day.

Not a building in sight - a rural peregrine





We also discovered Dartmouth, I cannot believe we have been coming down here for all these years and have not visited it, needless to say we were hooked straight away, even saw a Peregrine and 2 Common Buzzards high over head.

The Galleries were as impressive as the town and one in particular did the wooden carvings of birds, one in particular caught my eye, a flock of Dunlin and I can see myself heading down there again to get it.

Not everyone's cup of tea but I do like this - flock of Dunlin

All in all though a very enjoyable couple of days, good weather and good food, you can’t ask for much else can you?
Good also to make the acquaintance of Stephen Watson in Totnes, a fellow peregrine man, good to meet you,hope to see you again one day at Symonds Yat.





Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Battersea Power Station





Tower


Following on from Battersea Power Station – early days July 8th, the owners at the time – Parkview International were going to proceed with redeveloping the Power Station after years of the site lying dormant.
With the peregrines firmly established in 2004 and holding to the site 24/7 365 days a year ideas were needed to try get the peregrines to nest elsewhere on the site; it was imperative that they stayed but not on or in the Power Station itself.

Meetings were scheduled and I attended with Colin Shawyer, who at the time I believe was working for the Hawk and Owl Trust. From this we discussed a tower designed specifically for the peregrines. An idea was arrived at and the vertical section of a tower crane was installed in the North West corner with the now older type Hawk and Owl box positioned around 6 metres from the top.


Seen by many from the railway - erected in 2004 and de rigged in January 2013

Although both peregrines took to it, prey was stashed in it, the falcon rested/roosted in it, in regard to breeding it never happened for 2004, that year they failed after laying in a position where they were washed out on the Power Station by rainfall. This came from bad nest site location on the falcon’s part, there was heavy rainfall and the nest scrape became waterlogged and chilled the eggs.

The old Falcon catching some sun.

Totally accepted

Falcon leaving

2005 arrived and I had high hopes for the tower, activity was non-stop on it including copulation but true to form they went back on the Power Station, this year however they were successful, they fledged 3 juveniles. It looked like they had learnt from the previous year and they laid in a more ideal position, although due to their Schedule 1 status restrictions as to disturbance had to be put in place. The tower had been ignored as a nest site, there were quite simply too many locations and potential ‘scrapes’ on the Power Station, they wanted to be on it so why move?

Due also to the non- acceptance in breeding terms of the tower, it was decided to place a couple of nest boxes on the East Wall, the idea being to get them off the northern sector which they favoured. Work needed to be started in this sector asap.
In November/December 2005 a couple of boxes were placed along the wall ready for 2006, the pair took to them as much as they used the tower, would they prove successful?

Also used on the East Wall

2006 dawned and as part of the mitigation measures various potential ‘scrapes’ were closed off with ply etc.., the idea being to steer them towards the tower or the East Wall nest boxes, I watched and waited.

Trust me, trying to outsmart peregrines is not easy, anyone involved with them will tell you that they can be totally unpredictable, in the famous man’s words – Dick Treleaven, “Unfortunately peregrines never read the script”.

Unfortunately they again found a location on the northern end of the Power Station but not being ideal the eggs rolled and they failed quite early.
The lure of the Power Station was simply too strong, egg rolling and even having a nest site washed out by weather is all part of the natural process facing rural pairs. Urban pairs are no different and if anything have many more hazards to contend with.

2007 came with a bang, Sod’s law and they laid 3 eggs in the Tower and fledged 3 juveniles, like I said, unpredictable. Everyone let out a sigh of relief, they were off the Power Station and in there penthouse tower, they would now breed in it year after year, like the great man said, they never read the script.


The old female now departed





Friday, 8 August 2014




                Sunday August 10th is the day, if you haven't signed up please do, every signature helps in the fight against persecution.3 breeding pairs in England is a disgrace, Grouse shooting along with the persecution has to stop.



Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Parliament






July 27th


On the off chance I popped in after visiting Battersea Power Station to see if I could catch up with the pair and the juveniles, a previous visit having proved bird less.
I can usually find them; admittedly I have not been covering it as much this year but they are very site faithful once they have come over from their nest site.

Visiting later in the morning means that you have likely missed any hunting activity, it was also warming up considerably so I set about trying to find them; if they were present they were likely resting up.

As luck would have it I found the Tiercel straight away, like anything you get to know their favourite ‘armchairs ‘ and this was the case this morning, I had seen him on this statue before.






History was never my strong point at school, too busy bunking it to go fishing but to me ‘she ‘appears to be an angel holding a shield and wearing a crown.

I suspect that this is a significant historical reference to someone, or is it? there are 4 of them on each face of Victoria Tower all similar.








Whoever she may be her wings provide the perfect place to rest up for the Tiercel, he looked settled so I searched for others.
After a look over the rest of Victoria Tower I failed to locate any more peregrines so searched Middle Tower, sure enough the Falcon was resting up and also looked settled.

Just about viewable on right hand side

Of the juveniles there was no sign, I can’t see them having left already so likely just laying up unseen somewhere.

Next week, weather permitting, I hope to get some photos at a higher level, hopefully the whole family will be present, we will see.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Back where he belongs






Just over a week ago I was made aware of a juvenile peregrine that had unfortunately flown into a glass window on a high rise skyscraper in East London, the bird was in the care of Sue at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.
I took the opportunity to go down to the Hospital and have a look as, due to where it was found, I knew which brood it had come from, it had to be one of the juveniles from the Flooded out site.

The adults frequent this skyscraper building all the time before breeding and I know that they take the juveniles there after breeding having observed them a number of times.
It is around a mile from their nest site building and having watched them pretty regularly you do get to know which buildings they favour, having said that I also knew that this pair have a large territory and they are a sod to locate sometimes.

With this in mind, and in the back of my head, would I be able to find the family if the juvenile was ok; I headed down to the Hospital.
Unfortunately the juvenile had, from the collision, sustained blood in the eyes; the neck was fine but could not be released back until, and if, the blood cleared.
There was the possibility of a detached Retina so it was just a course of waiting to see the outcome. There was nothing wrong with its appetite as it was eating all put before it, always a good sign.


Nothing wrong with his appetite

Nor his - male Sparrowhawk recovering as well.



Last Sunday Sue texted and gave the welcome news that the eyes had cleared and the Vet said it was ok to go back to the wild.
I undertook a dummy run on Sunday with the intent of finding the family, the adults and 2 juvenile females; true to form due to their large territory I could not find them.

I was now in 2 minds, we were into late July, this bird, although fledged for a good 6 weeks was very likely still reliant on the adults to feed it, so it had to go back with the family. The trouble is if I couldn’t find them I did not want to release it back within their territory as I always make a point of trying to connect them visually with each other on release.

The 2nd option was to release it with a fostering pair, if you recall I did this last year and it worked a treat, this juvenile, as was last years was also from the same adults, the Flooded out pair. The foster pairs territory also adjoins the Flooded out pairs territory so land marks and buildings, even though at distance will be familiar to the released juvenile albeit around 4 miles away. In short if I chose the option of fostering he would recognise distant surroundings, either stay with his new ‘family’ or could make his own way back to re establish contact with his blood parents.

In the end I chose to put him with the foster pair as I knew that the adults+juveniles (there are 4) would be on the nesting site or nearby, it gave him the best chance of success.
The release couldn’t have gone better, I had arranged access to the building on Tuesday, we took him up to the Roof, a single juvenile was already on the wing and I let him out on the roof as the juv flew by.
Doubts over flying ability quickly evaporated, he barely touched the roof and he was gone, straight up interacting with his new sibling.


Freedom

We watched for a while, he flew out a little more and another juvenile or adult came out and they interacted as well, all good stuff.

A successful release and I also checked in on them again on Friday twice, released juvenile still present(the others are ringed and he isn’t) makes life a lot easier identifying them, 2 of the resident juveniles were also on site.

As to how long you could get away with fostering is hard to say, at some point the adults will probably not be so tolerant – say from August onwards as their own juveniles will likely disperse, with earlier breeding comes earlier dispersal in London.

Never less he was accepted, and he now has another chance at the big wide world.



Friday, 18 July 2014

Territories







As you are aware from the previous post, density is increasing and with it comes smaller territories; most of this comes from a single or a pair settling on a core structure/building in between other pairings.

From then on, if in between 2 pairs it is about the 2 regular pairs and the newcomers observing invisible boundaries.
Recently I was told of a new pairing and I must be honest, I thought no way as I knew that a regular pair( just over a mile away east) used this structure also, as you could imagine I was a little skeptical. Further to this there is another pair west perhaps 1 ½ miles away, both of these regular pairs fledged young this year and all carry green rings as part of a new registered colour scheme.

So you can imagine my thoughts until I saw the juveniles myself, I only saw 2 of the confirmed 3 at distance, it was also confirmed that none of the juveniles are ringed which goes to prove they are indeed new birds.

Great to see ‘holes’ getting filled in but I must admit that going on territory sizes I didn't think there was room in between for another pair, nice to be proved wrong and also I owe an apology to the chap who told me.


Below is the juvenile male from the Flooded Out site, I am pretty sure it is him after studying photos of him from the CCTV and CD's kindly forwarded to me.
He is recovering with Sue at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital after flying into the glass of a very large Office Block in East London.
I went to see him on Wednesday and although lively and feeding himself well, both eyes have blood in them, inquiring today showed no difference in his condition, if it is a detached Retina it is not good.
The Hospital does a marvelous job for Wildlife so if you ever want to help feel free to make a donation, the web site is at the side of the blog.Your money will be well spent in helping wildlife, the Hospital is also under threat from a Crossing so they are looking for as many signatures as possible.

It also shows the danger of glass for any birds, not only peregrines but migratory ones, on reflective glass on a sunny day they all think there flying towards blue sky or cloud,as a standard all glass should be non reflective or tinted to offer no reflection.



Juvenile Tiercel

I managed to catch the chase below of a female juvenile peregrine going for a more or less full grown juvenile Shelduck.
It was likely just practice on the juveniles part as it would be very unlikely that she could carry this sized prey, not only that it would be extremely dangerous for her.
The Shelduck's natural instinct as you will see when threatened is to dive - clever behavior.