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Saturday, 19 March 2011

Parliament March 17th and only in London

A rather misty morning found me standing opposite Victoria Tower at 5.50am.We are now getting very close to breeding so was not that hopeful of seeing the pair, I suspected that shortly they will leave Parliament for there nest site building. For those of you who are not familiar with the pair, they do not breed on Parliament, they move to another structure come breeding season, this has occurred for the last 3 breeding seasons.

A nest box designed specifically for Victoria Palace is shortly to be unveiled but unfortunately has come to late for the breeding season of 2011, time will tell if they accept it, it will be very hard luring them away from a successful nest site. Parliament is there ‘ core’ structure, I have no doubt they would rather nest on Victoria Tower but they fledged 4 juveniles last year on the breeding building, this will be imprinted on them. Additionally in 2010, as soon as they were able, the adults bought the juveniles back to Parliament and there they stayed.

Victoria Palace
Back to this morning, pleasantly surprised to hear and then see the Tiercel emerge from roost at 5.56am, just about seen in the half light, but definitely heard, contact calling very loudly presumably aimed at the Falcon, to see if she is present?

After a brief fly round the Tower he headed off, the direction he was taking left me in no doubt where he was heading, flight was not a hunting flight, so it was very likely the breeding site. I gave it another 30 minutes, with no sign of the Falcon, or the Tiercel before heading off to the other site.                                                     

On arrival at the other site it proved the correct assumption with the Tiercel already on a kill and feeding, of the Falcon there was no sign. I gave it another hour, during this time, he finished feeding and laid up with still no sign of the Falcon.

I recently received an e-mail that a pair already had 3 eggs, very early, usually around March 28th in London. With the non appearance of the Falcon, it is not beyond the laws of probability that she could be incubating, time will tell.

There is a web cam being set up shortly, this will give us a lot more much needed information, will also post the link address as soon as I have it.

Only in London

Following on from last years transvestite who waved to me in Victoria Garden Park while he/she was putting her make up on, I had another encounter with a normal looking chap at around 6.40am in the morning.

Quite amusing , especially to my wife, anyone who knows me will tell you I am quite old fashioned,as follows.

Walked into the park and noticed a chap messing around with something on his head on the other side of the park. Ignored him, did think what's he up to and scanned for the Peregrines. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him walking towards me, thought tourist, wants me to take his photo, wrong.

Chap – can you help me?

Me – If I can mate.

Chap – pulls out 2 gold earings

Me – (thinking does he want me to buy these?)

Chap – can you put them on for me

Me – what!

Chap – I cant get them in my ears, can you put them in for me.

Me – basically on yer bike with variations

Chap – Why?

Me – because I’m a man and you’re a man and men don’t put earings in to other mens bloody ear holes, fullstop . Can just imagine a copper coming around the corner asking what you are up to, just putting his earings in for him PC, yeah they’re really going to believe that aren’t they.

Chap – stormed off

Me – standing there sniggering to myself thinking why do I always attract them.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

March 5th and 6th and territorial squabbles

An excellent weekend relating to the site visits of February 23rd, both nest boxes have been accepted with both Tiercel and Falcon encouragingly occupying there respective boxes. The early signs are looking good, hopefully in 2011 we will have a good breeding year.

The potential in London is enormous if they all succeed , but due to a number of factors, they are not reaching there full capabilities, unstable weather, egg rolling, poor nest site selection and in some recent cases, infertility. If they can get past all this, the success rate would be far higher, and until recently, It did not occur to me that there could be other factors in London that could effect them to the extent that it would interrupt breeding.

I recently covered a pair in London, every day for 5 days, 2 days, then a gap and then 3 days in a row whilst activities took place.

In this period of time, the resident pair were kept extremely busy defending there site and territory as not only singles tested them but also another pair on the edge of there territory. For the full 5 days, they were challenged no less than 4 times a day, on one day, they received 6 visits by other singles/Immatures and pairs, I am presuming it is just one pair. Saying that, on at least 5 occasions they came in so high they could have come from anywhere in London, they were dots, the only reason I saw them was due to the reaction of the resident pair.

I know from visits in the breeding season of 2010 that, occasionally when I was monitoring them, they received challenges from other Peregrines, this at the time I thought was only sporadic, I am now thinking that this may be the norm in London. This may well be attributed to the high density of Peregrines in London, checking out your neighbour, so to speak, but it could well be singles/pairs looking to take over a site and testing the strength of a pairing.

Intruding pair
On this particular site the pair disappeared every day for an hour or so, without fail, even in not ideal weather, it was not to hunt as they had already killed and fed, so I wondered are they doing the same and checking out the opposition, it appears from the 5 days that territorial boundaries were not observed by other Peregrines.

Intruding immature female being driven off
One other reason may be that this site is a ‘ prime site ‘ and as such, is in demand and will be constantly challenged, whether it be from neighbouring pairs or migrant/singles looking for a ‘core’ structure or territory of there own.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Site visits - February 23rd

A very productive and satisfying day with a new nest box placed at one site, after this I visited another site and topped up with substrate ready for the coming breeding season.

New nestbox about to be placed
The new nest box was absolutely essential after visiting this site in January, although I had placed a tray in position, its location, where ever I placed it, allowed water to drip into it, hence the box. On top of this, the site has a number of feral pigeons and it had been ‘ guanoed’ a number of times. Have they done it on purpose, It would be amusing if they had, but I do not think that pigeons are that clever, or are they!
The Peregrines had been in the tray and the Falcon had made a scrape, it is also quite well known that Fieldfares guano Goshawks when threatened....

Guanoed Tray, coincidental or intentional ?

I have high hopes for this particular site, the people that I deal with are brilliant and love the Peregrines, they will get as much pleasure from successful breeding as I will, fingers crossed.

A misconception with the public regarding Peregrines, is that feral pigeons will move out once Peregrines are holding territory on the same structure, they will not as they know they are in no danger from perched birds, additionally it is there home and they were there first. Open sky is a different matter, even then the ferals carry on normal behavior but are obviously more aware of the watching Peregrines, especially at dawn when they know that is ‘prime time’ for hunting.

Nestbox in position
The 2nd site substrate top up came from an inspection in January/February, the Falcon had made the scrape in the box, but had unfortunately moved all the shingle aside and had hit the bottom of the box. Plywood was showing, obviously no good for a clutch of eggs as they would very likely break on movement of the incubating bird and contact with the wood.

Before - substrate with plywood showing
The thickness of the substrate at the time was around 60mm, so she had created quite a deep depression, to play it safe I topped it up to 80- 100mm, hopefully it will do the trick.

After - fully covered
Will now be checking these 2 sites, amongst others with the breeding season now nearly on us, fingers crossed for a good year.