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South West Peregrine

Cornwall & Devon Peregrine Falcon Study Group since 2007

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Cornwall

A Barn Owl update

An update on the Barn Owl and a few more pics from Steve Johnson

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After a couple of weeks of rough weather, rain & wind it did make me wonder how the Owl would be fairing; not much of an opportunity to hunt lately. It does make you wonder how they exist, their life (as with many other animals) is continually on a knife edge, but survive they must and indeed they do.

With the first break in the weather I went out at my usual time, parked up and prepared the camera, I looked around saw nothing, I then went to a mid point spot and looked to the left side of the scrub……and there it was hunting across the field , I took position and waited, it wasn’t long before it began to fly towards me, stopping short it settled on a fence post it was looking at me but didn’t seem to be bothered, if at all interested.

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I watched it for a good hour, I also thought I saw another Barn Owl but it was only a glimpse so not 100% but fingers crossed for a pairing. The light was dropping so I thought it was time to go, just as I thought that the Owl started to fly straight at me in fact it went right over my head as I was taking photos of it, it then went across the path to another field I followed it but when I looked over the hedge it was gone. It was a great hour spent watching such a beautiful bird.

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All Images Steve Johnson

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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.

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’.

Rory Carr – Bird of Prey Collection

From an early age Rory Carr 27, has been fascinated by wildlife, particularly birds and insects. It is perhaps unsurprising then that the natural world has become a major influence and source of inspiration for this up-and-coming artist. He is currently putting together a British Birds of Prey Collection.

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Rory works primarily in watercolour, but prepares his work by first drawing the subject using pencil. Once painted, he adds extra definition and emphasises areas of texture using ink which serves to strengthen the composition. This multi-disciplinary approach, combining drawing skills with wash techniques, Rory has developed while working towards his A-level in Fine Art at Kelly College.

During his school years he studied the famous wartime artist John Piper and Robin Armstrong, a local well-established wildlife artist who also works mainly in watercolour. As well as working towards a career as an artist, Rory is strongly motivated by wildlife conservation efforts and has trained as an ecologist, having graduated from the University of Reading with a Master’s degree in Species Identification and Survey Skills. Rory hopes that his work will help to reconnect people with nature by encouraging an awareness and respect for the countryside and its wildlife.

For more details on his work, prints and commisions, you can contact Rory by visiting his Facebook page Rory Carr – South West Artist

Behavioural Query

Having recently been contacted via email we were asked to comment on an observed behaviour by Gemma and her partner whilst out walking the coast-path.

I’m hoping someone from your group might be able to help explain some behaviour we saw of a pair of peregrines close to P******** in Cornwall towards the end of May. A female was on a kill of a feral pigeon with an adult male nearby. The male was calling a lot whilst the female was plucking the bird. At one point they were both feeding but then we saw the female feed the male a few times. I don’t know if this is unusual but the male was clearly an adult and we thought if it was  a pair bonding thing it would be more usual for the male to give food to the female?

Gemma was kind enough to supply an image of this as well.

Female feeds Male

It’s quite common for well adjusted and close-bonded pairs to feed each other. The Females will chup with every beak-full they feed to a male, just as if he were a chick.
Often it is the female feeding her mate that is observed, but it has also been observed for males to feed females, especially when she is incubating eggs or close-brooding chicks during bad weather.
Often, adults feeding each other is indeed a pair-bonding thing but it can also be habit/hormone based, particularly in the breeding season. It might be thought that, in pair bonding, the male would feed his mate, but he has already dramatically adjusted from his instinctive behaviour by giving up a kill to the female.
If the birds have been tandem-hunting, the female will usually carry the kill back home, and then give up the head to the male. If he is not satisfied with that alone, he will solicit for food and is usually fed for a while.
See the videos here of a pair slightly out of sync in the breeding season. The male is given the head, but wants more. He is fed by his mate, but then takes the whole kill for himself and she does not retaliate in nay way.
(This particular pair failed on a single egg, probably due to being out of sync with each other, this despite the male doing everything ‘right’ up until mid-March.)

We very much thank Gemma for her email and comments, it just goes to show the more that you observe the more you will learn or the more questions you can raise putting theories to the test. No two pairs behave in the same manor due to numerous factors, so it is always worth sitting and watching rather than taking for granted what we have read or seen before.

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.

Royal Cornwall Show

South West Peregrine will be at this years Royal Cornwall Show on the 5,6 and 7th of June.

This is the largest agricultural show in the South West, drawing in estimated crowds of up to 130,000 over the 3 days. We will be in the Cornish Heritage Pavillions on stand 775, where we will be talking to the public about the groups role in monitoring peregrines for the British Trust of Ornithology.
We are bringing an interactive display, which will engage all ages. Video clips as well as numerous artefacts and artwork will also be on display.
We are also promoting the Hawk and Owl Trust, whom we have made close connections over the past 12 months as well as Birders Against Wildlife Crime a new and very good web resource allowing you to understand these at times complex laws.
Let’s hope the weather is kind to all the exhibitors and public and we look forward to seeing you there, so please come and say hello to the team members.

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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