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South West Peregrine

Cornwall & Devon Peregrine Falcon Study Group since 2007

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Conservation

Difficult climb is worth the efforts

Wednesday the 1st of June 2016, saw the ringing team back on the clifftops of North Cornwall at a particular tricky coastal site. A first attempt to climb was aborted,due to some technical issues. After a very difficult climb, the second assault proved a major success. Three very healthy eyasses bagged up in spite of only one adult being present for the past two weeks. The young birds were now at 25 days of age, slightly older than the desired ringing age by a day or so, but due to the their location on a very large ledge it was not a problem for the experienced team. They were a  bit of challenge to handle and ring, however the team prevailed. All three healthy young Peregrines, were then returned safely to their ledge some 100  feet below the cliff top. The adult male was soon back to inspect the goings on and in due course feed the ravenous young.

SWP would like to thank Chris Adams for photographing the team and allowing us to use his images on this post.

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Helping with Buzzard Project

Roger Finnamore  of SWP gets his hands on some young Buzzards (Buteo buteo), he takes up the story

‘The Peregrine is obviously the core species of our field work, that said however, we do have other strings to our bow. The 1st of June, and I had kindly been invited to meet with George Swan. George has been carrying out a colour ringing project on Buzzards, the venue a large estate in mid Cornwall. Not quite knowing what to expect, George and I met at the appointed hour. He agreed to do the driving, an interesting journey followed as Cornish hedgerows flashed by. We arrived at the first chosen site and George was soon on his way up a substantial tree. A single chick was found at this site, duly bagged, lowered to the ground  ringed and  swiftly returned to the large stick nest. 

Again at break  neck speed, it was off to the next nest. Concentration of Buzzards took me by surprise and it wasn’t long before we were at the foot of our next nest. This nest held two much larger chicks,these were weighed, measured, ringed and returned. A completely new experience for myself; getting introduced to a new species a under the watchful eyes of  George was one which I most  definitely would like to repeat. Very many thanks to George for the opportunity’.

The Ledge

A short film put together from numerous Trail Cam clips on a pluming ledge and cache used by an adult breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus). It was the groups first time using this kind of technology to aid our fieldwork and studies, therefore we are pleased with the results and the capabilities of the device. It is no doubt a useful tool.

In this short ‘Winter’ study we have managed not only to capture both adult birds utilising the cache, but it shows the Tiercel (male) was at times reluctant to share the spoils with his mate. The powerful neck muscles in the Falcon (female) are clearly visible in the clip and some interesting vocalisations are also picked up.

Clear evidence of nocturnal activities with the birds visiting the cache not only in dusk and dawn but also during the small hours as well were recorded. We did not pick up prey being delivered at this time, but it is an indication that birds are still active in these remote and unlit areas; on the lookout for nocturnal migrants such as Woodcock aided only by moonlight. These are regular prey species as recorded in the study by Nick Dixon and Ed Drewitt at Exeter (St.Michaels), the longest running Urban collection of prey samples.

The camera itself was hidden inside of a fake rock, so it was less obtrusive to the birds. In the first couple of frames it does appear that the birds are aware of the device, but they quickly became use to its presence and in some night shots it would appear they were even sat on top of the rock.

Field studies like this will hopefully lead us to a better understanding of prey taken at different sites, as well as the interaction between the adult pairs. It may throw up other interesting factors, such as intruding birds, the ability to pick up tagged birds or as in our case small mammals also feeding on the prey remains (below – image only).

Screenshot 2015-08-29 at 15.51.36

This was shot using the Bushnell HD Trail Cam, supplied by HandyKam of Redruth, Cornwall.

Team install Kestrel Box

A short film has been produced to show the ease of installing a Kestrel box. We encourage anyone who has access to suitable habitat to give this a go for themselves. It is not only our garden birds that need homes at this time of year, many of our Birds of Prey also need our help.

The team are now looking to install a Barn Owl and Tawny Owl box along with artificial stick nests to encourage other raptors. We will keep you updated as to the progress of these projects in future posts.

The Peregrine has landed

The Group were invited to SUMMERCOURT Academy and spent an enjoyable Day with all the classes teaching them facts about the Peregrine and other Birds of Prey that live in the British Isles.

Class Two

Every child measured their own Wingspan, saw videos, learnt about the Peregrine’s amazing eyesight as well as being able to see many other items of interest and colouring their own Peregrine and Barn Owl face masks. All the children enjoyed the experience as did the team. Education and discovery at such an early age is an important part in helping the conservation of our magnificent birds of prey.

Please see the Website for further details if you are interested in holding your own similar event.

‘Junior’ and the new chicks

So the chicks at Cann Quarry (Plym-Peregrines) are now one week old; they will  of course be reliant upon their parents to provide food, shelter and protection for the next month whilst they are in the old Raven stick nest, a home they must occupy until they are ready to take that first leap of faith and find their wings.

They will remain dependant and will be continued to be fed over those next few weeks; then as they gain confidence they will be encouraged to try a food pass high above the quarry; once mastered they will accompany a parent or both parents on hunting forays up or down the valley until finally they will take live prey, having watched and learnt the skills needed for that next big step, independence.

Yet these three young eyasses will also have one other challenge to contend with; and for once that threat is not man. It is older sibling brother by a year, ‘Junior‘ (HA, darvic ring Id) as he has been ‘tagged’ by the watchers. On the morning of Sunday the 25th May we watched the adult tiercel fly up the valley from Plymbridge, he carried with him a morning meal, a male blackbird from the looks through our binoculars. He headed to a favourite branch high in the oaks to the west of the viaduct, the opposite side to the stick nest containing the three chicks and the Falcon. just above the adult tiercel at two o’clock sat Junior.

The next ten minutes passed and then a call across the valley to let her know a meal was about to be delivered. As soon as he took flight he was hotly pursued by the young tiercel and by the time they were both overhead he had managed to grab this meal for himself and head to the south oaks of the quarry were it was devoured. The adult tiercel sat above him. The Falcon on seeing this left the nest immediately and after checking 3 caches on the quarry face, returned to feed the three hungry chicks, all now clearly visible in their fluffy down, as they were each fed in turn meticulously by their mother. The meal lasted 20 minutes and was uninterrupted as Junior was still occupied and looking magnificent. We asked the question, ‘Are these new tactics being employed by the parents to ensure meal time passes without fuss?’

Just a little later in the morning as she sat and brooded the young, a small flock of pigeons flew up the valley hugging the high tree-line; they were spotted immediately by the Falcon who left the stick nest and flew hard up the valley on the river side in pursuit. Her flight path was low,following the river, ensuring she remained undetected by the cover of the trees as she left our sight.

We speculated she was after them and how she may try and intercept the unsuspecting prey further up the valley at the next viaduct. We cannot be sure, but this was the probable conclusion to the fate of one unlucky pigeon as within 2 minutes she had returned to a favoured pluming ledge, where after only a few minutes her only issue was that once again Junior felt a little hungry. Sit back and enjoy the morning watch of 3 hours condensed into 4 minutes of YouTube time. Watch and witness for yourselves just some of the amazing scenes we are being treated to on an almost daily basis now.

 

 

A Pilgrim’s Tail

We have made a few changes to our blog ‘A Pilgrim’s Tail’ as we were rapidly running out of storage space.

So we hope that you enjoy the new layout, it has lots more going on than the old blog and links to many more items of interest to all you Peregrine enthusiasts out there, and from the responses we get there are quite a few of us!

You can view all of our latest post from our own fieldwork and studies, along with the guest posts such as that from Charlie Moores of BAWC.

We have a new Gallery section displaying some lovely images from around this majestic coastline, as well as a link to the YouTube Channel that offers you an insight into watching these birds along our shores.

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