Please do not copy any photos without permission( click on photos to enlarge)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Parliament January 28th

First visit of the year, I ended up rushing a bit even on a Saturday to make the dawn start, I made it in the end and located both birds roosting together on the Middle Tower at 7.30am, it was bloody cold, about 1 above but the sky was clear and promised a good day, this soon changed.
I was optimistic that I might get some hunting, especially after observing the Tiercels body actions, lots of head movement and position shifting. This proved correct when he launched himself north wards and left at speed, the light was still not good, I suspect he was trying to take a feral leaving roost. He returned about 3 minutes later, prey less but again adopted a similar position on Middle Tower. After 2 minutes he again left at speed, the same direction and I waited in the gathering light.
Even before I saw him returning I knew he had something just going by the Falcons reaction, she started to call repeatedly and her body actions took on an anxious stance as she ‘danced on the spot’.
He came into view with a feral and landed on Victoria Tower, she in the meantime had flown to the Tower and consequently took the prey straight off him, normal peregrine behaviour from the dominant female.
He adopted a nearby position to wait for the scraps, from his stance he had no intention of hunting again.

Tiercel waiting

I watched them both until the Falcon finished feeding at 8.34am, instead of relinquishing what remained of the prey she stashed it, the Tiercel did not go and feed, perhaps he was not hungry as yet.

Falcon about to stash prey



The pair at the stash site

Both then flew a couple of circuits around the Palace before landing near to each other, from behaviour it appeared both were going to ‘lay-up’ and so it proved.
Later in the morning I checked the new nest box, they have not entered it as yet, there has been no disturbance to the substrate, and neither are there any new talon marks on the landing ledge. I am now pretty sure that the previous talon marks on the ledge were made by one of last years juveniles getting curious. Next month will give more information, as it stands on behaviour; I suspect they will go straight over to the other nest site. The main thing is that they breed successfully where ever it may be, if they go to the other nest site they will be back in early July.



The pair ' laying up'

For good measure and showing that the Tiercel was showing territorial behaviour to Parliament a Carrion Crow was attacked and driven off, who knows?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Season Summary

Happy New Year to all

First of all, apologies for the lack of postings of late, normal work and field bird surveys have kept me very busy over the last few months. I am a Steel fixer by trade, a family tradition and have been doing this since I was 16.Now at the ripe old age of 54, its beginning to tell on the body, everything is harder these days. In contrast the bird survey work is thoroughly enjoyable, how can you moan whilst getting paid for doing a lifelong hobby? I have grafted all my life Steel fixing, I am ready and hopefully soon, to concentrate on the birding alone, Peregrines of course as the priority.
Back to the Peregrines and the season summary, it has been a good year for the pairs that I monitor; new pairs have emerged again, on some of these I have to say a big thank you to the public for contacting me.
Of the pairs that I can publicise, Parliament were successful for a 2nd year, fledging 3 juveniles, one of which has already laid claim to another section of London, he has been recognised due to his orange leg ring.
For obvious reasons I can’t publicise the other locations, I wish we could, one day we may be able to do this; everyone should be able to enjoy these magnificent birds.
On one site I at last, after 4 years of trying  managed to read the resident Tiercels leg ring, I have always known where he was from due to the colour, black, but have never been able to read the numbers. He was rung on the publicised site of Chichester Cathedral,West Sussex on June 1st 2002, he was one of a brood of 4, it shows how far they are going to find new territories in urban areas.It makes you think, do they just head for Cities/large Towns due to the fact that they were born in one, or do they just move on until they find an opposite sex peregrine or a building/structure where they are not challenged by other Peregrines?

Falcon(click on photos to enlarge) 

Elsewhere new singles/pairs emerged, hopefully as mentioned above I can commit more time to each pairing, as it is, I simply cannot cover them all and give each pair the attention they deserve.
Urban Peregrines cannot be left to their own devices come fledging time, with juveniles jumping ship all round London roughly on the same period, you simply cannot cover every pair. More often than not, especially with the wrong weather on the day of fledging, they will and do ground. I understand about natural mortality, in the ‘ wild’ the mortality rate hovers around 30%.I do this along with others, to make a difference and give each juvenile I pick up and take back up the chance it deserves. The nature programmes where you see non-interference from camera men where juveniles are in trouble, I do admire them for being that way, me, I would rescue the lot.

Another grounded juvenile (Photo Nathalie Mathieu)

It would be great and a far easier task for me if I could name the sites so the local public can be involved more in each respective site, all each one needs is a hard core group of peregrine enthusiasts to look after them. Due to a mindless minority of eggers/pigeon fanciers this is never going to happen, unfortunately this is the England that we live in, a small minority spoiling it for many, many others.
Fingers crossed for another good breeding season.