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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Where are they now?

Falco peregrinus 

The breeding season of 2012 gave us a good number of ringed juveniles, all wearing the standard BTO ring on their right leg with an orange band on their left leg denoting London born and bred.
If this colour was only used for London it would be easier, as it stands the colour orange is widely used all over the UK.
As there Latin names means “wandering or pilgrim Falcon” this implies that they travel, not only as a migrant but home grown juveniles will stretch their horizons as well. If this happens and a London juvenile carrying an orange ring enters another city where other juveniles have bred and carry orange rings also, it will give you some confusion unless you can read the numerals. Of course this will only happen after dispersal, say September/October onwards. To read the numerals you do need a telescope, notwithstanding that, juveniles usually allow a closer approach for binoculars until they get that wildness of an adult bird.

Thankfully plans and rings are now afoot this year for some London colour ringed juveniles to be given a London colour, dark green with white numerals, this hopefully will give us the info we need as long as ringing recoveries take place in the future.

When the juveniles disperse and make their own way in the world, will they make straight for an urban area as per there natal site? I have often wondered where they end up; ringing recoveries for London juveniles are very low, why? As a high profile bird that has a tendency to ‘profile’ perch on structures/buildings/pylons etc... we should be seeing more juveniles/immatures around the outskirts of London, ringed or unringed unless, as per above, are they are going straight out of town due to London’s density?
Mortality used to hover around the 30% mark but with milder winters and an abundant winter food source – surely the figure may well be lower now.

A Tiercel juvenile..where is he now?

The London Natural History Society Boundary, a 20 mile radius from St. Pauls Cathedral is well manned with abundant birdwatchers; juvenile/immature ringed or unringed peregrines should be on the radar more often and being seen more. I know of a few immatures around but nowhere near the juvenile/immature numbers that I know exist. 
As far as I am aware only 3 immature ringing recoveries have taken place over the last 2 years from London, there was also another bird located out in Essex last year if I remember correctly.
If they are not being seen, are they living up to their Latin name and wandering a lot further afield, or could some even go continental? There is no evidence of this; in truth I can’t see this happening.

Who knows, it could be that many immatures will hold to a coastal/rural food source/area as they are not strong enough to hold a territory of their own in the City or outskirts, this will mainly apply to the Tiercels.Once adult plumage is attained will they then try and move back to somewhere that resembles there natal site, or do they move sooner?
I know and have watched a number of sites in London that pretty regularly have their pairing tested, be it by an adult or immature, are these birds that are coming in from the outer counties or even further afield?

Myself and my colleagues at the LPP know where most of the London pairings are, the gaps between pairs don’t seem to be occupied by many singles or immatures, so to me that can only mean that most are going straight out of London.

New colour rings will give us good information…as long as they can be relocated.

Cleaning out nestboxes 

I recently saw the earliest copulation I have seen in peregrines, December 23rd no doubt brought on by the recent mild weather, needless to say its bloody cold at the moment.
On Monday I cleaned this pairs box out in preparation for the 2013 breeding season, and additionally I wanted to make sure the box was clean and hopefully parasite free if they laid early.

On arrival at the box I found that the Falcon had already made a good scrape so unless this cold weather puts the eggs on hold, there is the possibility that they may lay early. Boxes don’t get washed out naturally by the weather hence the annual substrate change.

Below shows the box before and after, firstly as it was with the scrape made by the Falcon, and then with fresh substrate and a new scrape made by myself. 

Pre cleaning with scrape, as peregrine boxes go this was pretty clean

Cleant out, new substrate and scrape

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