South West Peregrine

Cornwall & Devon Peregrine Falcon Study Group since 2007



Poisoned peregrine found on Scottish grouse moor

2015 here we go again

Raptor Persecution UK

A poisoned peregrine has been found on a grouse moor in Stirlingshire, resulting in a police raid last Friday (20th Feb).

Incredibly, Police Scotland issued a press statement immediately after the raid. The speed of this publicity and their willingness to inform the public about this crime is warmly welcomed.

Here’s what the press release said:

Today Police Scotland executed search warrants on a shooting estate in the Stirling area after a Peregrine Falcon was found to have been poisoned by the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said:

“In July 2014, a member of the public contacted police to report a dead Red Kite on the same estate. Subsequent investigation revealed this bird was also poisoned with the same banned pesticide. There was no release of information to the general public at this time for operational reasons”.

“It is evident that an ongoing and intentional effort to poison…

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2015 gets underway

We are all very much looking forward to a busy 2015, after what was another great year in 2014 with the BTO’s Peregrine Survey being undertaken. We await the National Results with interest.
Every year however is Peregrine survey for us; now moving into our 8th full season as a group. Many changes have taken place in that time, but the thrill of getting out on the coast and glassing a Peregrine for the first time each year is always a memorable occasion.





South West Peregrine on tour

Well with Hen Harrier Day and Birdfair now in the past we look forward to returning to a sense of normality.

Two long round trips, the first to the Peak District in support of #HenHarrierDay organised by @MarkAvery and @ChrisGPackham which was fully supported from a far as field as Plymouth and Inverness and proved to be landmark day in what is hoped a turning point in the fight against continual illegal activity and persecution against our Birds of Prey and many other mammals, all for profit for a few.

SWP and HoT

The second trip was to the long anticipated Birdfair 2014, an event in England’s smallest county of Rutland. We need to thank the Hawk and Owl Trust for the invite to join them on their stand. Over 22.000 people visited the event over the 3 day’s and many popped by and visited our display and had a chat. It is always nice to meet so many new faces and it was wonderful to catch up with old friends as well as making many new ones.

Roger and Luke IMG_20140814_125034Luke and Chris PackhamCP and Viking

Birdfair 2014

South West Peregrine will be at this years Birdfair at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, we have been invited as guests of the Hawk and Owl Trust and are very much looking forward to meeting people the world over. We hope you have 10 minutes to spare to come and say hello, view our display, chat with some of the team and marvel at the Peregrine. The display includes Artwork, artefacts and information and will be an interest to anyone with a remote passion for Birds.
We cannot thank the Hawk and Owl Trust enough for this wonderful opportunity as we are still a relatively new group, yet in the past year we have made many new friends and contacts. We will be running a raffle each day, so please come along and support our study/field work by buying a ticket or two. The prizes are fantastic.
We are lucky to be joined by Ian McCarthy on Friday and Saturday; many of you will know him from his wildlife filming career, we are lucky that he contributes to our field work and can call him a friend.
Artist David Scott has allowed us to bring along a wonderful Watercolour as well (below)
It is always such a fun and friendly event; three days with like minded souls, let’s hope the weather is kind.

Duchy of Cornwall lend helping hand.

A massive group thank you, goes to the Duchy of Cornwall.

Having kindly granted us permission, three young Peregrines were successfully ringed last weekend. This vital work,serves to increase our knowledge of the species. The help and co-operation of landowners,is a key part of this process, along with the help and support of our friends at the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) and local ringer Tony John. These are the grandchildren of the current breeding pair at the Plym, one of their 2011 Falcons is the proud mother.

A short video of the ringing

Thank you once again from all at SWPG.


Callum has beautifully captured the first days of this young bird not long after fledging, the time where they will pitch in near footpaths walked by the public and show no fear at this time, of human life. They quickly learn though and will be busy being taught to hunt by their parents over the coming weeks; probably the biggest challenge to date for these young fledglings. Keep up the good work Callum, many people will be jealous of these great photographs.

South Coast Peregrine rearing Herring Gull chicks 2014

One of the joys of studying wild Peregrines (and there are many), is the sense of anticipation as to what one might witness during that next field trip. Such was the case, when we first discovered, and filmed, one of our study pairs raising three Herring Gull chicks.

We had been fortunate, to watch a video of the same behaviour, filmed by talented amateur cameraman P. Chaney having been discovered by R.Baker. This footage was captured on the Dorset coast, but not for one second, did we ever expect to see the same for ourselves.

It was on the morning of May 30th, that we had our first encounter. I was in the company of Steve Watson, a good friend of the group, who had journeyed down from Gloucestershire for a couple of days birding. We arrived at the site, for a routine check on the breeding status of the resident pair. After briefly scanning the home cliff, I located the falcon.She was clearly brooding chicks, as I watched through the scope, my jaw dropped, as the head of the first baby Gull appeared. I turned to Steve, and relayed what i’d seen, he bundled me away from the eyepiece,and after a few seconds he too got his first glimpse. I’ve never heard Steve swear before, but he turned to me and simply uttered a couple of words that i couldn’t possibly repeat here. We watched for a couple of hours, after which we were forced to leave, to fulfil another appointment. We returned in the evening, with both Greg and his camera to capture the first video.

Our next visit to the site, was equally special. The young Gulls are thriving and as you will see in the following footage (which was filmed on the 12th of June), we managed to capture the youngsters being fed by a very confused Peregrine. We hope you are as astonished with what we were fortunate to witness.
Cheers for now
Roger Finnamore

Ed Drewitt Author, Naturalist and Peregrine Fan

Peregrines have shown a remarkable recovery in the past two decades and our fastest bird in the world, reaching 180 miles per hour in a stoop dive, has attracted huge attention in recent years. They have become more accessible in terms of web cameras and simply being viewed from footpaths and shopping centres. There are now over 60 pairs of Peregrines in towns and cities across the UK, and another 40 pairs can be added if you include more industrial sites and pylons.

If we turn back the clock to the early noughties the urban Peregrine picture was a very different one – back then there was only a few sites where Peregrines were breeding in cities, and only a small number of people watching or studying them in any detail. I first became involved with Peregrines when I realised they were eating interesting and unusual birds for the middle of a city like Bristol. I was a student at the time and I loved finding skulls and feathers. I soon realised Peregrines were hunting at night, taking species such as Little Grebes, Woodcock and Water Rails as they migrated over Exeter and Bristol at night. They were behaving like owls darting out from the shadows to catch their prey lit up in the glow from street lamps. Since 2000 I have liaised closely with Nick Dixon who has been watching Peregrines that use a church in Exeter since 1997. Nick regularly collects the prey remains of the Peregrines here and we have a data set spanning 17 years and comprising 5, 000 separate prey items. Combined with data from Bath and Bristol we published the first paper of its kind in British Birds and attracted the most media attention the journal magazine had ever had! Journalists and the public were amazed that Peregrines lived in cities and that they hunted at night.

Since 2007 my work on Peregrines has also focused on colour-ringing young Peregrines while they are in the nest. The colour rings, in my case blue with black letters, mean that once the chick has left the nest it can still be spotted and identified months or years later. To date over 90 Peregrines have my blue colour rings on their legs, and across the UK another half a dozen colour ring projects apply different colour rings. In the past few years the Peregrines that Nick studies in Exeter have also been colour-ringed thanks to the climbing antics of Jason Fathers who is able to reach the nest box using ropes and climbing kit. You have to be patient with colour ring recoveries as it can take time for birds to be spotted and for you to go out and look for them. However, so far I have heard back from around 10% of the chicks I have ringed – some alive and some dead. Those alive have ventured away from the west and reach the Malvern Hills, Staffordshire, Bognor Regis, Salisbury, and Suffolk. The birds tend to be nomadic in their first few years of life, with females travelling further than males.

To spot a Peregrine you need to look high and check churches, cathedrals, and office blocks. As well as looking up, you want to be looking down. On the ground, distinctive white falcon poo looks chalky, and is often concentrated in certain places below a favourite perch. Look for feathers too – not necessarily from the Peregrines, but from their prey. They eat mainly birds and below their perches you will find feathers, legs, heads, wings, and whole birds killed and eaten by them. It is often assumed Peregrines just eat pigeons, but in fact pigeons only make up a third of their diet. The rest is a huge variety of birds from ducks to terns, gulls to Redwings, and Greenfinches to Chiffchaffs.

With the opportunity to study urban Peregrines in more detail than we have ever been able to with their rural counterparts it became possible to write a book solely on them. My new book ‘Urban Peregrines’ is for both readers who would simply like to find out more about Peregrines and for those who would like to study them in more detail. With beautiful, professional photographs by local Peregrine fans, and insights that have never really be written in any detail before, this book fills a much-needed void.

Ed Drewitt is a naturalist, broadcaster and wildlife detective, enabling others to enjoy birds and other wildlife. His book ‘Urban Peregrines’ has just been published.

South West Peregrine thank Ed for this months guest contribution to ‘A Pilgrim’s Tail’

Royal Cornwall Show 2014

The group enjoyed a very successful three days at this years Royal Cornwall. Various group contributors, covered shifts on the SWPG stand and It was a great thrill to meet, greet,and interact with the general public.

We were fortunate to make some very exciting new contacts, not only with possible new group contributors, but also great interest from the the world of technology. The guys from HandyKam, were most interested in what the group have been up to, and more importantly how they may be able to assist us in the future. A big thank you goes to trade stand co-ordinator Angela Langton, who was most patient whilst dealing with our late entry to the show.

The show seemed to pull in good crowd numbers and looked to be busy on all three days. There were lots of interesting things to see and do, from watching falconry displays, to the Sheep Show and shearing demonstrations. The Livestock looked to be in superb condition and there was always something of interest in the Main Ring 

The group were made to feel most welcome by all, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2015.

Now it’s heads down,and crack on with preparations for Birdfair,can’t wait.




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