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Saturday, 5 October 2013


A lucky Duck

October 5th

It’s been a while since I last visited and I have neglected the pair somewhat so this morning’s outing was a catch up.
I arrived too early(or so I thought) as it was still darkish at 6.40am, parking round the corner I then headed for my usual position in the middle so I could cover all exits from possible roost spots. As I walked over the green I heard the calling of a duck, I then looked ahead and got quite a shock. Coming over the roundabout about 15 metres up obviously struggling for height was the female peregrine, she was carrying the source of the noise, a large duck. In the semi darkness the prey looked enormous, from size it was definitely not a Teal(usual duck prey) but larger, as she passed me overhead she could no longer hold the struggling quacking bird and down it came next to Victoria Tower.
In truth as it came flapping down in the gloom my first thoughts maybe it wasn't a duck but possibly a Coot.
I crossed over the road and eventually located the bird in front of Sovereigns Gate, in appearance and shape it looked good for a female Pochard but it seemed too dark, good news that it was alive and moving well.

A lucky bird

After a brief chase I caught it, gave it a look over in the light, it looked ok and was injury free so I made my way into Victoria Garden Park and then to the Thames. As luck would have it the tide was still up, the bird was lively so I released it on the river, it flew good and landed about 20 metres out.

I watched it for a while, it seemed none the worse for wear and started to swim upriver I am glad to say.

The bird on the river after

I very much suspect that she caught it over nearby St.James Park; they fly in this direction quite a lot, what it does go to show again, peregrines as we know are hunting in the early hours/night. With darkness they have all the advantages, I suspect Redwings will start to show soon.
After this I waited for the morning to arrive such as it was, another cloudy day, she flew to the Abbey first and then went straight up to Big Ben to try her luck again.

Hunting from Big Ben

I watched her for another hour, 3 hunts all failed, each time she returned to the crown of Big Ben, of the Tiercel there was no sign throughout the morning, not even from roost, unusual.

Juvenile Casualty

I had arranged to meet Steve Swinney, the idea being to retrieve the bird from the wire somehow, no one wants to see it hanging there like that all the time. We had exhausted other avenues; the cables were live between the telegraph poles, so in the end we decided to get it off ourselves.
In the end Steve came up with the idea of a football, with so much current running through it, it would have been very dangerous to attempt to knock it off with a long pole of sorts. The bird was hanging from its neck as per the previous photos; you would think it would come off quite easily, wrong.

In the end it took around 12 throws each, it was surprisingly well up there before it came away, unfortunately the head remained and the body came down which leads me to think that it may have suffered a massive belt of electricity.
Looking at the bird showed no signs of foul play externally and there was nothing to suggest in the habitat that it was found in that anything untoward had happened, it looks a tragic accident.
The bird has now been sent to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme for an autopsy.

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