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Monday, 24 February 2014


True to form February has been a little hectic, last minute issues resulting from the February 1st licence period has resulted in quite a few e-mails back and forth, a few visits, but for the most part all is now resolved and off we go again.

There are very few birds in an Urban Environment with Schedule 1 status other than Black Redstart that have to be managed, of late I have been dealing with both on the same construction site. With Black Redstarts it is no doubt easier, they do have a certain tolerance of people, and as such exclusion zones when nesting can be relatively small dependant on the area involved. Obviously they are a smaller bird with different characteristics and behaviour.

With Peregrines, as I have said in the past it is a whole different ball game, they do not tolerate people close by, licensing laws have to cover whole roofs, there is no definition as to what distance constitutes disturbance.

A misconception which I do have to explain regularly is that the licence is not only for the incubating bird, beit Falcon or Tiercel but also affects the bird on ‘guard duty ‘on the building. If this say, is the Tiercel sitting above the nest site on a very large roof, he flushes in reaction to someone going onto the roof, they could be 50 metres away, this is disturbance. If he reacts with stress and calling it is likely to bring the incubating bird off the nest also, the roof could be absolutely massive; the licence still applies which is why whole roofs have to be closed off.

Added to this with successful breeding you will then have juveniles all over a roof, the licence and wherever they go on the roof still applies to dependant young, they cannot be approached or disturbed.

Flooded out Pair

As it stands since the ledge was cleared they have not come back, I had rather hoped that they would but it is looking like they will try on another building this year.

I have located them, presumably it is them, about a mile away on a building I know they have used in the past, I will contact the owners shortly. I must have checked the camera 40 times since it was cleared but unfortunately not a sausage.

Parliament Pair

These have now gone over to their nest site a mile or 2 away, I had hoped to keep them near Parliament but there were one or 2 issues involved with the building concerned in placing a nestbox.I am still hoping that these can be ironed out and resolved as I have visited the roof of this particular building, it is perfect for breeding peregrines.

As you may be aware there nest site which they are on now, and hopefully will breed on successfully this year, is coming under the demolition hammer in the Autumn so a new nest site needs to be found for them.

Juvenile Casualty

Back in October I did a post on a juvenile peregrines under the above heading, below are the post mortem results from the PBMS, as you can see, it was as suspected collision. At the time it did occur to me that there was the possibility of fail play but glad to say it had nothing to do with it.

A sad sight but death was ' natural'

Result from PBMS

A big thanks go to the PBMS.

A scanned shot of the new camera with Falcon present

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

New Web Cam

I must admit I am quite excited about this one, it’s in a purpose made nest box I designed around 4 years ago which the peregrines took to pretty quickly.
At the moment I am not hooked up but will be shortly but yesterday the owners of the Web Cam very kindly sent me through some photos as a taster. The camera has infra red and is wide angle, it shows the proposed scrape, the main entrance and also the access point to a large roof for the juveniles.
The video stills that were kindly sent are excellent, they show the Falcon in various poses completely unfazed by the camera, no doubt a star in the making.

This access point leads them out onto a 25 metre square roof and gives them the room to learn to fly and strengthen wing muscles, what is quite amusing as well is that I know the adults use it as well. As you know exercise and wing strength can be the difference between success and failure on that first flight so the roof is a god send.

This is one of the older pairs that I watch, the Tiercel is from Chichester Cathedral and carries a black leg ring, he was ringed on May 30th 2002 and was first noted at this site in 2003, this year marks him as a 12 year old Tiercel.

I have been covering this site since 1999, the early days when there were not so many about, as building‘s go they don’t come more peregrine friendly than this, it is not far off of being the perfect site. This is the foster juvenile site, Wingy from last year and before him, Stumpy with the dodgy leg, I often wonder if all made it and where they are now.
Nature can be very harsh, of them all I suspect that Stumpy would have had a hard job surviving, the milder winter this year would have undoubtedly helped Wingy and there was no reason that the Foster shouldn’t have made it. As I may have mentioned before, her release and acceptance gave me a lot of satisfaction.

Getting back to the camera, another reason I am looking forward to it is that I know this pair hunt at night, and make a habit of it on clear nights,with the Infra Red I hope to be able to identify prey as I expect much will be bought to the nest box all being well.

Also , again all being well, I can now know when the 1st egg comes, how many, hatching, when to ring and so on, it makes life a lot easier and provides so much entertainment, will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Flooded Site

Well I was wrong about the depth of water, 4 inches, more like 8 unfortunately, it went over the top of the nest tray and judging by the ply, some visual flaking, it’s been that way for a good few months.
This site last year produced 3 juveniles, one of which was the ‘foster’ female who came down, I placed her with another brood and she was accepted by her new brothers and sisters, and more importantly by both adults. That reintroduction gave me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction I must say.

In regard to the nest site no one could have known, the camera has been off line now for a number of months and in hind sight seeing the tray afterwards on my little digital camera, which the Abseiliers took down there with them, I would have changed the tray and the substrate.
The CCTV covers the balcony ledge so I could see the water and the flooding but I could not see the Tray so I was guessing at the depth of water and did not know if it had gone over the Tray.

Flooded out with the nest tray just about viewable in the right hand corner.

But no matter it gives them a chance and I can do that next year, I do however have to say a big thank you to the Management Company and Sonya of the structure and also Industrial Abseiling, both stepped up and acted very quickly.
The flooding has happened 3 times in the past, although it has to be said nothing as extreme as this, mind you we have never had weather like this have we, consequently I made the decision a good few years back to put the nest tray on bricks.

The flooding is down to the drainage outlet being tiny, it blocks easy so by lifting the tray and placing it against the diagonal shelf, my thinking has always been for juveniles when they go for a walk, the angled shelf allows them in and out when there big enough. The design of the balcony, split level, means that all the pigeon guano accumulates up top, as soon as a strong wind comes along down it goes towards the drain hole. There are quite a few on the building even with the Peregrines present.

If I left the tray sitting down at the level of the drain there is a risk of flooding which has happened on 2 occasions in the past 10 years albeit the earlier years, on both occasions’ eggs were chilled and failure occurred. Although a good nest site otherwise, especially exercise space for the juveniles, it is a very inaccessible nest site and can only be reached by Abseiliers.

The chaps from Industrial Abseiling

The question is now, knowing that pairs are already on territory and I have not seen either bird here for 2 weeks now, have they already found themselves another nest site for the year being this close to egg laying?
I am watching the CCTV night and day now hoping that they will return, one good thing about this strong wind is that it has dried everything out quickly, it might be too late but you never know with peregrines as they never do anything straightforward.

My thinking is also that even if they have settled for another site pre egg laying, and I know which building it may be, at some time or other one or both birds will visit here, seeing it clear I think would hopefully bring them back being more imprinted on them.

Sifting through the prey afterwards that had been cleared showed yet another Woodcock, a wing again and also an Arctic Tern, the smaller bill standing out as was the complete redness, these were on the upper level. The Arctic Tern was only the 3rd I have recorded in London.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Flooded Out


As mentioned in earlier posts, most London pairs are now on territory, or at least the ones that I monitor are with most having already fashioned scrapes and totally bonded to their respective sites, if they ever left.
There is one site, the one that suffered and failed due to the Pirate Radio a few year back, that I have been checking recently and have only seen the Tiercel, and even then only briefly as he never stayed long.
At the time I thought it slightly odd behaviour as in the past, he usually hops down to the nest tray, sometimes I can hear him unseen chirruping away to himself most definitely inspecting the nest tray and getting all excited with Spring approaching.

He is not staying and I was wondering why, until Thursday when the CCTV camera which is focused on the nest site came back on line. Unfortunately the small balcony has flooded, the drain is blocked and 4 or more inches of water have filled it up over the nest tray.
As it stands they have no chance of successfully breeding so with the co operation of the management, at very short notice and Industrial Abseiling again, also at very short notice an Abseiler is going down to unblock the drain on Tuesday with myself present.

I have to say a massive thanks to both these Companies, I wish I could name the Company who manage the structure but it is a very sensitive site that not only I monitor, but also a Metropolitan Police Wildlife Officer keeps an eye on it also.

As I have said before in an ideal world I could name sites, it would make it 10 times easier for me to write this blog, and probably easier for people who read this blog to connect with if they knew the site and where it was located…one day hopefully.
As it is I have to be very careful what I say, where I reference it to and make sure photos don’t show land marks etc..., such is the world we live in with Raptor Persecution sadly.

I have not seen the Tiercel for this site now for a week, or the Falcon for that matter, my worry is now, due to the flooding are they off looking for pastures new and a new nest site and will not return?

Will they check again - with 4-6 weeks left for egg laying I am counting on it, watch this space.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ready for another year

Blimey it comes round so quick, in the last week or so with all boxes now done and dusted, I have had at least 4 pairs copulating, with a laying date last year around March 10th, here we are again with barely 5 weeks possibly to the 1st egg.
They all came under licence on February 1st and this will now remain under licence until mid July, sometimes longer, much depends on the laying date and obviously successful breeding.
Since the clean outs I have had time to check all the Boxes/Trays and very satisfying to see one or more birds re- entering their respective nest sites since the clean ups.

Below are some photos which Nathalie kindly sent me showing the Balcony and Nest Box at Charring X,although it took them a little while to go back in as you can see its looking good.

Pair copulating on a lot drier Balcony

One thing which I did notice from the photos is that the Balcony appears to be drying out (see Charring X Nest Box January 27th) whether or not this is down to less rain, which I simply can’t believe, or the drain modifications I don’t know. I am hoping that it is the adjustments the chaps from Industrial Abseiling did have cured the standing water problem.

 All photos are copyright of Nathalie Mahieu, thanks for there use.