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Monday, 25 February 2013


Sunday February 24th

I visited on Sunday morning, blimey it was cold, in truth I was not expecting them to be here, by now I thought they would have ‘gone over’.
Pleasantly surprised to see the Tiercel come out of roost at 6.45am from Victoria Tower, and even better he began to hunt, of the Falcon there was no sign, I presumed she was at the nest site.
He went up to hunt and flew 4 failed sorties, returning from the 4th he flew to the western side of Victoria Tower and retrieved stashed prey, an early morning snack so to speak.

Halfway through feeding he stopped and became very alert looking over towards the Abbey, I could not see anything but as I turned back to where he was, he was already heading over there. I had an idea what had caught his attention and this proved correct when I walked round there.
The Falcon had just bought in a feral pigeon and had just begun to feed, the Tiercel resumed a position and was waiting patiently for her to finish, at times not very patiently calling as his hunger overrode her dominance.

Waiting patiently

I recently had a similar scenario of another pair, she was feeding and the Tiercel tried to take it out from under her, lots of aggression, wing flapping and physically trying to push each other off the prey, as usual the larger baulk and dominance of the Falcon was too much for the Tiercel.

Different pair, Falcon bowled over as Tiercel tries taking prey from her

Recovered and hanging on

With the Falcon being present also it means that they are still here at Parliament, it is unlikely that they will stay, so far they have shown no interest in the nestbox provided by the University for them which is a pity. At the moment I am guessing the main reason that they are still present is due to the very cold weather, breeding instincts proper will not kick in until warmer weather arrives, and it appears the same for other pairs in London. 

Tame little chap

Getting back to the pair, I continued to watch them until she had finished feeding; she as always has the Lions share of the prey, rightly so as she has to be in good condition to produce eggs, when she had finished and moved away the Tiercel was in there quick as a flash. He grabbed it before she could change her mind and flew back to Victoria Tower; I found him a short while later feeding. 

Taking it while he can

Both birds then just layed up after feeding to digest food, with the weather pattern set for cold the rest of the week, they could well be here next weekend, I will have another look. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Up Town

Saturday February 23rd

When I left the house in the morning at 5.30am, it was cold, 1 above showing in the car so I was not expecting much breeding activity, my plan was to visit 5 sites starting in Inner London and then work my way back home east.
I arrived at the first at 6.35am courtesy of London’s Roadwork’s, namely Blackfriars Underpass closed again, seems to happen every weekend, diversions or lack of just put you into more traffic. Added to that I was then cut up by a Bus badly, the camera rolled off the seat as I braked hard so quite cheerfully had a little chat with him at the next set of lights.
True to form though another Bus pulled out in front about a mile up the road, did well to stay calm but Christ do I dislike Bus Drivers, a law unto themselves so to speak.
Anyway, rant over, the first pair I arrived at both came out from roost simultaneously at 7.10am and assumed a high hunting position, signs looked good for pair hunting. The site has a massive population of feral pigeons; the pair were up waiting for these to emerge. After sitting in this position for 15 minutes with 3 blank sorties flown, both then flew a short flight to another position to hunt, this proved a good move as the Falcon latched onto a Feral Pigeon shortly after.
Whether it is a conscious decision to change the angle of attack on the ferals to gain an advantage I do not know, but the position change certainly worked as the 1st hunt proved successful.

After this both fed and then layed up, needless to say no spring like activity, after a while I decided to move on.

Due to the cold I did not have high hopes of locating other pairs as I headed back east, this proved correct with the 2nd and 3rd sites peregrine free, no doubt fed and laid up somewhere out of the cutting wind.

Site 4 however came up trumps, this is a site that bred successfully last year with a nest scrape made in Pigeon Guano, earlier this month with the aid of Industrial Abseiling a tray was placed to give them assistance in breeding.
The site has a natural overhang so I made the tray with a larger outside edge to give her a bit of protection from the elements and, additionally give cover to the juveniles from strong winds and driving angled rain.
As I parked up and got the bins out and scanned the nest area I laughed, the Falcon definitely liked the tray as she was sitting on top of the higher lip, the lip gave her a proper vertical perch and was additionally out of the wind.It did not occur to me at all that she would use it as a lookout post as she awaited the Tiercel.
Hopefully it will make life easier for them if they accept it, signs look good.

The Tray with a higher outside lip. 

In position

I drew a blank at the 5th site, none present, I am hoping that they find another building as the structure they are on is not ideal in position or surroundings, I have been watching them quite a lot to see if they favour other buildings/structures.

Time will tell… the moment though no pairs are showing any breeding activity due to the cold, it will be interesting then to see if this year they go back to there normal laying times, last year many were early.

Monday, 18 February 2013

New Nestbox 2

On February 2nd I blogged about a new nestbox that had been fitted, I was also optimistic that the pair would hopefully take to it.Its always in the back of your head regarding peregrines, will they reject it, is its position ideal for juveniles, how long will it take them to come back to the ledge now it looks different, is it facing the right way and so on, some pairs can be unpredictable at times. Sometimes circumstance dictates its position.
I blogged that you never know, they might accept it in 2 days, I was wrong it took 2 weeks, possibly sooner as you can’t watch them all the time.
On Sunday I visited the site, I located the Tiercel on his usual ledge and then looked at the nestbox, low and behold out comes a waddling Falcon, I’m still grinning it usually takes longer.

Heavily cropped photo of Falcon after she came out

She then just rested up and dozed, that was where I left her 30 minutes later. Of course being in there and resting up next to it doesn’t guarantee egg laying, nature is nature but if they are in it again this week the grin will be even broader. 

Coastal Site 

Last week following on from the first batch of photos, I received the 2nd batch; even better news is that she has now made a scrape in preparation for egg laying.

Ledge Display, look how low shes standing, scrape made

Even roosting next to it, possible site for nocturnal hunting also due to light

Again thanks to the Landowners for allowing me to show them. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Looking good

Before Christmas I made a nestbox for a coastal area site which was placed a short while ago after the pair failed last year, the idea being to give them an established nestbox long term.
Last week I received confirmation from the land owners, the resident pair have taken a shine to the box and signs are looking very good for the coming breeding season.
Like me they, the landowners, are obviously very pleased that after everyone’s hard work in making it happen, it looks as if the reward could be breeding in 2013, fingers crossed.

They even placed a CCTV camera, as you can see below, they like the box and its position, thanks go to the land owners for allowing me to use this photo.

On February 3rd I again bumped into a Hybrid which I believe is the same bird that I saw on May 29th 2011, again it was holding to an ex Peregrine site.
As mentioned in other posts it is possible that this bird could have caused the resident pair to move, or the pair could have just moved naturally. Additionally I find it hard to believe that a hybrid could move the pair on knowing how territorial and aggressive they can be to other peregrines. Additionally larger birds of prey like Buzzards or Red Kites also get the treatment if they stray into peregrine territory; I would have thought that this hybrid would have received the same.
It is hard to understand them leaving a successful fledging site of 2 juveniles in 2011, the bond and tie to a successful nest site is very strong so it does make me wonder.

Last year this hybrid was present occasionally at this site also, the pair from 2011 hardly made an appearance, I am watching it most weekends to see if they show up again.

The photos are poor, the weather as usual, but scoping it showed the same overall grey tones and head markings first seen in the blog entry under Hybrid, May 30th 2011.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Sunday and Charring X Hospital

Sunday February 3rd

I went back at dawn to the site where we fitted the new Nestbox on Friday, as I said in my previous post I am optimistic for this site, hopefully the peregrines fill the same way and will not totally ignore it.Anyone who has been involved in wild urban peregrines will know that they are far from predictable, sometimes the obvious solutions to a better nest site can and are sometimes ignored even if you think it is ideal.

But by and large they usually accept Nest Trays and Boxes, as Nathalie recently mentioned on Twitter it is not always straight away. In the last week I have placed 2 Nestboxes and a Tray, will they take to them, much depends on what other options they have available in the way of ledges and niches.

On Sunday I watched the pair from dawn having not seen how the nestbox looks visually from the outside, although they never went in it, both Tiercel and Falcon both flew in front of it, it is on a ledge they use and obviously this ledge now looks different. The Tiercel in particular was very curious, hanging in the wind and passing the ledge a number of times, legs were down, I suspect he knew I was watching, just wasn’t going to make it that easy. Watch this space…..

Charring X Hospital

On Wednesday 6th I headed over to Nathalie’s site which she monitors after we arranged with Industrial Abseiling and Charring X Hospital to access the ledge, clean the balcony and replace the substrate.
Having already used the Company to place a tray at another London site on Monday, I have to say they did an excellent job on both sites, on the balcony at Charring X work was watched by both peregrines sitting over on Novotel.
I am glad to say that the cameras will again be working this year tying in with Barnes Wetlands, the HD images provided by Simons Wildlife Whisperer site and Huw Edwards’s icode site providing the cameras were stunning last year. Much of this was down to Nathalie putting in a lot of time editing the video.

The lads from Industrial Abseiling getting ready

The ledge on arrival was flooded, the drain on the ledge is slightly raised, probably about 20mm, consequently water lays on the Balcony and does not drain off unless it goes higher than 20mm, below it the water just lays there until it is dried out by the sun. 

A water logged ledge

The lads firstly got rid of most of the ‘natural’ debris that accumulates on a peregrine nest site and then proceeded to sweep most of the water away. After this they removed all the old substrate from the box and replaced with new, additionally giving her a new scrape central to the box and under the camera. 

Clearing the ledge

Water  and debris removed

New substrate and scrape

The camera again will shortly be up and running once all the technical stuff is finished, some peregrines sites in London are already showing signs that they may lay early, hopefully a good year again. 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

New Nestbox

On Friday I visited another London site to fix a nestbox which had been designed specifically for a ledge that I knew the resident pair of peregrines frequent, the only way to secure this was by scaffolding. The scaffold would also allow the box to be lifted out annually to replace old with new substrate. With the scaffold in mind the box was designed not only to hold the Tubes but additionally allow (if successful) juveniles access to the remainder of the ledge to exercise and strengthen wing muscles. Having wing strength in their maiden flight is sometimes the difference between grounding and a successful flight.

Coot prey - the 2nd one recently, got to have been at night

Proberly another night time take - Woodcock

The ledge as expected was completely filled with water, this was the main reason that they had failed in the last few years, the drainage holes were clogged up with prey. Once cleared of water the ledge was cleaned out and a substrate base had been put down partially to take the box but also to stop it clogging again. In the last few years I have now made it policy to use a nestbox unless the building /structure has a ‘natural’ overhang protecting them from the elements, if so I use a Tray. Looking on the camera at the Wildlife Whisperer site last year when we had torrential rain showed at times how hard it can be for them, you only have to look last year at Nottingham,sadly that was tragic. 

Glad to say the fitting all went well, now it is up to the pair, of all the sites I have placed Trays and Nestboxes this is one where I am very optimistic, to me to get a box accepted straight away is what it’s all about, satisfaction.

The box ready to go in

About to put the substrate in

In position, the section cut away will allow access to the ledge

Secure, lets hope they like it.

As I write this I am heading there in the morning at dawn (Sunday), the icing on the cake will be after everyone’s effort, to see a big white breast come waddling out from the depths of the box. 

Too easy, acceptance after 2 days, you never know……