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Monday, 30 May 2011


May 29th

Decided to get out early to check up on some sites that have been rumored to hold Peregrines and also visit some known sites in East London.

I arrived at my 1st port of call around 4.45am and found a Tiercel on territory, I 1st saw this bird about 2 months ago, initial thoughts were it must be a visiting Tiercel favouring the location due to the density of the local feral pigeon population. Since then I have seen him a number of times and have confirmed that he is a single bird, as yet with no mate, holding to this particular structure.

Tiercel (click on photos too enlarge)
Looking at him showed he already had stashed prey on a ledge, so I left him in peace and moved on.

Next stop was a Church that might have Peregrines on it, this was the 1st time I have visited this site, a bit low, but looked ideal for Peregrines. Although there was no guano staining or prey remains aloft or lower down I made a note to keep an eye on it In the future, it was also bang in the middle of pairs east and west.

There are some sites, especially past breeding sites that I always visit whenever I pass them, this was the case today when I found the hybrid.

As I arrived at the location I could see the bird straight away and realized it was not a Peregrine, its colour also gave it away, a very striking looking bird with greyish plumage. On looking through the scope, my 1st thought was Merlin/Peregrine hybrid, the head especially reminded me of Merlin, its size was equal to a Tiercel Peregrine, possibly a tad larger.


The white undertones to the chest pointed towards Peregrine but the small feet and talons seemed more suited to Merlin, the moustachial sideburns also looked good for Lanner/ Merlin. Additionally the grey plumage may point towards Lanner Falcon.

The barring to back and mantle area showed Peregrine heritage, have to say, although a hybrid it was a cracking looking bird, just a pity I did not get to see it fly, would have been good to get the wing shape and colour.

Would welcome any thoughts on its Id, and also if anyone has seen it around before.

It was also interesting that the bird was at an ex – peregrine site, coincidence or could have possibly followed a peregrine in.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Parliament Pair - Ringing

May 28th

Good news in the fact that not only have the juveniles been ringed, 2 males and a female, the camera position has also been moved, the footage is now a lot better with adults coming and going being observed. As I write this at 3.30pm, I have just been watching the Tiercel feeding the juveniles.

The footage is great and shows how all 3 juveniles are given an equal share, when they have had enough they simply reverse up or turn there back. They are now getting very big , exercising small wings is becoming very important now as they grow towards full size.

Old camera position - young now getting very big.Photo Nathalie Mahieu
For those not aware of fledging Peregrines on there 1st flight, they have a habit of grounding, in particular on days with not a breath of wind, they need this to give them uplift on there maiden flight. Last year at least 5 people covered the site at different times of the day from dawn to dusk, although 1 or 2 of the juveniles came down low, they eventually found there way back up after a day or 2, hunger is a great motivator. This year will be no different and a watch will start around fledging time, probably around the 2nd week in June.

I have picked up a few juveniles over the years that have grounded as have members of the London Peregrine Partnership, we have returned them to high points near the nest, without assistance many will fall prey to urban foxes or become road casualties. In the wilder rural areas many juveniles are lost on grounding and the mortality rate is around 30%.

With the new camera position, it will also give us an insight on prey species, although predominately feral pigeon in London, this time of year produces hordes of juvenile Starlings, I was at a site this morning and the Tiercel bought in 2.

Falcon bringing in prey at another site.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Parliament Pair

May 24th                                                                                                                             

The young are growing very fast now and are becoming mobile, they are now  around 18 + days old. I have been watching the CCTV quite a bit lately, it is a bit frustrating as much of the behavior and actions are being missed due to the nest scrape position.

The above footage shows the young hatching with prey stashed nearby.Courtesy of Nathalie

I would like to give updates and photographic progress from outside, on ground level, but this will unfortunately draw attention to the birds, also it not an ideal area to walk round with equipment. I will wait till they fledge and return to Parliament, last years return date was July 10th.Having spoken to a number of people at Parliament, it looks like there return is quite eagerly awaited due to the spectacle and noise of up to 6 Peregrines gracing Parliament. I must admit it is a spectacular sight to see 4 juveniles buzzing Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Victoria Palace, even amongst all the traffic and noise they cannot be ignored.

The young flat out in the sunshine, around 12 days old.Photo - Nathalie Mahieu

The CCTV camera has been down over the weekend and Monday but is now up and running, unfortunately the juveniles have covered it as per last year with guano. Obviously due to licencing restrictions it cannot be cleaned, hopefully if they are to be ringed, the camera can then be cleaned.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Parliament Pair

May 7th

3 eggs have now hatched, the 4th hopefully will follow very shortly. The 3rd egg hatched between 12.00 and 4.00pm on Thursday May 5th and was recorded by Nathalie who has kindly forwarded the info.

Watching the web cam this morning at 5.56am gave occasional glimpses of the freshly hatched juveniles, but positioning of the scrape makes it hard to see and record the comings and goings of adult birds. I could see by reflection this morning, an adult was feeding the young, as the juveniles get bigger and more mobile, usually around 10 days, behavior and feeding will be recorded a lot more in front of the camera.

Hopefully as the young get bigger we will not have a repeat of last years guano plastering of the CCTV camera.