I recently got a call from Nicole and Howard at Rainham RSPB regarding a dead Peregrine found on the Tip, hoping that it was a case of mistaken identity I headed down there. On arrival, Dominic had been on the Tip checking Gulls, he confirmed that it was a Peregrine unfortunately, a sad sight as it was an adult and no doubt one of an established pairing.
Looking at the bird, it was quite large which was throwing me a bit as size suggested Falcon, but otherwise head shape and the pale area above the upper mandible pointed towards Tiercel. There is a lot of variation in size with Peregrines; it is not always the clear cut ‘females are a 1/3 again bigger than the males’.
I recently had 2 full grown juveniles which I knew were male and female, the difference in size was marginal, in flight you could just about tell them apart.
Examining the bird showed some upper bill damage and the neck was most certainly broken, it was found below a chain link fence showed that it had likely been in collision with some part of the fence. Thankfully death would have been instantaneous and the bird would not have suffered. The likely scenario is that it was chasing another bird at speed and failed to see the chain link fence in the heat of the pursuit.
|An unfortunate end|
I was surprised given the location that Foxes had not got to it overnight but at least this way it could be autopsied and DNA recorded for future reference.
If, ignoring the fence, the only other cause of death could possibly have been another Peregrine, they are very territorial and aggressive; it may have been hit from a dive by another and sustained bill damage when it hit the ground.
Whatever happened I will find out soon from the autopsy and hopefully, as they pair for life, its mate will soon find another to bond with.
Unfortunately despite warnings to the contrary regarding photos on the blog, apparently some peregrine photos have been copied, it looks as if I will have to start copywriting from now on.