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Sunday, 12 June 2011

June 11th - out and about in London and a relocated pair

First stop was to check on a site on the other side of the river, a previous visit revealed 3 well grown juveniles.

Arrived on site at 4.40am, located the juv’s on the east side of the structure well sheltered from the brisk south westerly wind, all 3 had the ‘ hungry ‘ look and were searching the skies for an adult. At this time of morning the light and the cloud cover were not good, the fact that they were scanning all the time made me think that an adult or both had slipped away in the darkness.

So it proved with the Tiercel returning with prey just after 5.00am, they saw him a lot earlier than I did and there was a frenzy to get in the right position, the noise was quite incredible.

Looking at the juveniles showed it to be 2 females and a male, even at this stage the smaller male was a loner, the 2 sisters seemed to be sticking together, as expected the prey was taken by one of the females. The male will likely be the 1st to fledge, female dominance seems to start at an early age, I suspect he loses out in the food stakes quite a lot. It was interesting to note that when the Tiercel came in with prey, he called but did not move, unlike his sisters who fairly terrorized the adult Tiercel.

Juvenile male
At 5.44am the Falcon arrived and was quite obviously carrying heavy prey, her tail was fanned out for maximum lift as she circled and bought in the prey, again the young male did not get a look in, the remaining sister claimed the spoils. Eventually the little male did get the left overs of one of his sisters.

Falcon coming in with prey very early a.m
Looking at them showed they were ready to fledge in the next 2 or 3 days, hopefully none will ground, the windy weather at the moment is ideal, still windless days make it difficult for fledging.

Relocated pair

After this I decided to check an old site that bred very late in 2007, no Peregrine activity but as I was driving away about a mile up the road I saw the unmistakable outline of a Peregrine on a structure. Closer views were warranted and eventually, through a maze of streets I was able to scope the bird.

The hardest thing in London is not trying to draw attention to peregrines or yourself, on secure sites it is ok, Parliament etc… but walking round with a telescope, camera and binoculars is downright dodgy in some areas. Another problem is that some people think you are up too no good, unfortunately using binoculars and a camera on a building looking for peregrines does get you labeled as a potential terrorist or a peeping Tom. I have lost count the number of times I have been approached by the Police, tipped of by the public no doubt, good to see though, security is a big thing in London.

I eventually found a location tucked away and had a look, a Tiercel greeted me, about 10 minutes later a Falcon came in with prey. Scoping her showed it to be the female from 2007, so a very pleasant surprise.

Re located Falcon bringing in prey
Eventually the prey was stashed and she disappeared on another section of the structure, hopefully breeding behavior as she was lost to view. Given the fact that the Tiercel looked to be on ‘guard’ duty, the signs looked good.

Territories are getting smaller every year in London, this pair are only 1 ½ miles from another well established pair.

Fledging tragedy

I received a phone call mid week regarding a site in London with the news that a juvenile had been killed whilst making its first flight. The site in question successfully fledged 2 juveniles last year and having visited the site on earlier dates this year, it was quite clear audibly that there were juveniles up there again. The nest site has never been visible to the eye so it has always been best guess when they lay and fledge.

There were a number of people involved with the site, companies etc… who had worked round the birds all through the breeding season and were tracking there development and keeping a watchful eye on them.

As the juveniles were being watched and monitored, it was one of the reasons that it was seen to fledge, quite an early date for London, Tuesday June 7th.

It was seen to clear some flats and was then lost to view, shortly later it was found dead in a small park.

After picking up the bird I had a look when I arrived where it had come down. It looked like it had come in at speed, probably out of control and hit a large overhead ornamental 6x6 timber, some of the breast feathers had gone from the impact, the neck was clearly broken.

Mercifully it would have been instant and it would not have suffered, a sad end for a magnificent bird.

There is a remaining juvenile, this has fledged ok, it looks like a Tiercel, presumably both juveniles came out on the same day, on Sunday (5th) there was only one bird on show.

Unfortunately it is not a rare event for a peregrine to ‘ ground ‘ they do seem to make a habit of it, especially when there is no wind to give them uplift. In 2010 at this same site I had a juvenile come down to a 3 storey roof top, on landing it food called but being lower down, the adults will not come down to feed it. For the next 3 hours it stayed there despite the adults trying to make it fly with overhead passes with prey, in the meantime also, a pair of Crows and a pair of Lesser Black Backed Gulls had also found it. The Crows ended up confined to a nearby tree, every time they tried to leave the Tiercel was on them, the Gulls received the same treatment as they tried to mob the juvenile, this time from the Falcon. The juvenile eventually made it back up high under its own steam thanks to its very aggressive parents, but for these it would have been in trouble.

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