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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday February 13th

Right from the start I knew the weather was going to be ‘orrible’ the forecast the night before had given grey skies, quite a fresh southerly and rain. They were right, I have also noticed that as I am getting older, now 53, all I do is talk about the bloody weather, must be an English thing.

Given the weather, I was not expecting much from the pair, that was even if they were on site and had not moved to the nest site along the river.

Arrived at 6.40ish, still very dark, but enough light from the streets and Parliament to pick out any outlines. As I was setting up the scope I saw a bird slip away from Victoria Palace, on flight and outline a Peregrine, it went north west, very lucky to see it, just happened to be looking in the right direction.

At this time of year I suspected it was the Tiercel as he will be doing most of the hunting, and so it proved with him returning in the half light with a fresh feral pigeon, time was around 7.00am.I have seen him go this way before at dawn, he obviously has a feral pigeon roost site that he favours. On arrival back at Victoria Palace, he came in calling triumphantly, the usual happened and the Falcon took the kill from him, she started to feed, whilst he sat above her watching patiently, or so I thought.

Falcon feeding with a very hungry Tiercel awaiting

After about 10 minutes of her feeding he started to call again, the persistent rehk rehk rehk call, some times signaling agitation, in short he was getting the hump. To reinforce his intent and message he flew out, came around and landed next to the Falcon, who totally ignored him and carried on feeding, but she did open her wings and mantle the prey more. His response was to call even louder and edge closer trying to weasel his way in, it didn’t work, she took off with the prey, not to be outdone he took off after her.

The chase begins
He was not giving up and chased her round Big Ben and Victoria Palace, continually calling all the time, on a couple of times as he closed with her I could see him trying to grab the prey whilst she was doing her level best to evade him. Usually the Falcon will, after feeding just leave the prey and then the Tiercel will just take over, I have seen Tiercels before try and take prey from Falcons, but 9 times out of 10, they sit and wait. Patience to a bird of prey is second nature,they will sit in the same spot for hours waiting for prey.

On about the 5th attempt he got his talons into the prey and held on, I expected her to release but she did not, they were all now connected, I must admit it was a bizarre sight to see a Peregrine on top, prey in the middle and another Peregrine hanging sideways trying to take the prey. They stayed like this for a good while, I have seen prey aerial exchanges before with Peregrines in London and also with Marsh Harriers elsewhere, the difference here was that she would not release and they were all losing height, both calling repeatedly. Just as I was thinking, bloody hell, there going into the trees of Victoria park she relented and gave up her prize, she flew to a rest point on the Palace and he took the prey to the opposite side and began to feed.

Trying to take the prey, photo's below show the quarrel

Making a grab

Trying again

Nailed and hanging on

Still hanging on, she will not release


And on....

All though females are dominant the intensity of the Tiercels chase and taking of the prey from the female was surprising, neither wanted to give up and she was not going to relinquish the prey in a straight food pass. A good old fashioned domestic quarrel.

Tiercel returning

Back on Victoria Palace
Left them both to it as the rain got heavier, the Tiercel tucking in to the left overs. As you can see the photo's are very dark, with decent weather they would have been quite good, there I go again...