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South West Peregrine

Cornwall & Devon Peregrine Falcon Study Group since 2007

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Peregrine Ringing

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Roger working on the deceptively large ledge

Sunday 4th June, another three young were colour ringed along with the metal BTO rings; this was a tricky site to reach, but the ledge was large enough to allow the ringing to go ahead in-situ.

Peregrine Falcon Ringing 2017 from South West Peregrine on Vimeo.

This is a fourth consecutive season the pair have bred  and over that period 11 Chicks have all been raised to fledging. The ringing carried out under licence and with landowners permission went once again without a hitch, due to good teamwork and planning the climb in advance.

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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

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).

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

An opportunity to witness Cooperative Attacks by Urban Peregrines on Common Buzzard.

Sunday 7th of June members of South West Peregrine joined Urban Peregrine researcher’s Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs, the co-authors of the British Birds Article ‘Cooperative Attacks By Urban Peregrine on Common Buzzard’ (May 2015 Issue), opposite the home of the study pair at  St Michael’s & All Angels Church, Exeter. A small team of watchers all alone on a multi-story car park roof, armed only with binoculars, scope, flasked coffee and notebook. 

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We had arrived early and already the Tiercel was in the air as we got into position, an alarm call being directed at the Falcon as he began to ring up (series of flaps and glide in a tight circle, gaining height on an early thermal) made him easy to pick out in the clear blue skies. The Falcon, now sat upright, alerted, on the gable end above the eyrie (a box installed and located behind a trefoil),looked on at her mate; calculating her route to join him. A Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) came into our view, effortless gliding and roughly following  the course of the River Exe far below; at this point still unaware of the dangers of drifting into this ferociously guarded territory.

It is worth noting that the two young are only days away from estimated fledging with the young male expected to go on Thursday 11th of June (42 days from hatching). So no threat is directly posed to the young eyasses from this passing raptor at this point in time.DSC_2481

The Tiercel quickly reached a height just above the Buzzard, still hecking his alarm, the Falcon had by now left her perch and with rapid wing beats headed on a looping course behind the Church spire, climbing quickly to join her mate. Before she arrived in position the first stoop from the male on the Buzzard was witnessed, not a full speed attack and not directly at it, but in doing so the Buzzard now knew it was in danger. A second and more threatening stoop this time by the female made this threat intensify. The Male was now almost instantly, back in position above the Buzzard, who was heading in a South Westerly direction, within seconds the Tiercel was in again, quicker and now more threatening himself this time around.

Nowhere to hide

Calling from the pair could still be heard from our vantage point and we watched in awe as the Falcon was once again diving at the helpless buzzard; It flipped onto its back presenting its talons has a means of defence. It began to lose height deliberately and wing beats where seen has it tried to make its retreat. We witnessed 14 stoops in all before the Buzzard made good his escape and the pair turned back toward the spire. 

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What we witnessed as a group over the next 4 hours will go down as one of the most remarkable accounts in our relatively short 8 years as a group watching Peregrine Falcons together. Nine attacks in all where witnessed, both Adults spent the majority of this time in the air defending this territory only briefly returning to pitch in on the Spire or Cross, always remaining on high alert. Attacks seemed to be called off once the intruder was approximately 1km away from the Church Spire (in any direction) A number of hits on Buteo buteo where observed, these seemed in the main to be by the larger and possibly more aggressive Falcon.

The Maximum number of attacks by the pair on this beautiful morning was 45 in total; one buzzard was sent spiralling to the ground, seemingly having flown its last flight. However on trying to recover this bird it was seen making an escape first to a nearby tree and then into a clump of trees in a nearby garden. During this time both birds remained on high alert and 2 level flight attacks were launched from the spire until the were certain any imposed threat had passed.

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We said our goodbyes at around 13:00, the afternoon watch was about to commence, what we had witnessed formed the basis of conversation all the way back to Plymouth.

Anyone wishing to read the full detailed account of the Dixon/Gibbs Study helped by local watchers should read the published Article in British Birds

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SWP thank Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs for the opportunity to join them and in their sharing so much knowledge.

Check out Nick Dixon’s profile as an Urban Peregrine research specialist on his website

‘Quarry Falcon’ – Limited edition signed print is now available

Available Now – 100 copies of this fine ‘Quarry Falcon at rest’ by local Artist David A. Scott so do not delay.

Dave Scott - Artist, South Devon
David A. Scott – Artist, South Devon

You had better be quick if you want to be the owner of one of these fabulous Limited edition and numbered signed prints.

At a very reasonable price of £55 plus £7 P&P the item will be shipped to your home, It will be protected in a special Art mailer tube to ensure its safe arrival.

Only 100 copies are being produced and early signs are that they will be going quickly with much interest already being showed.

The dimensions are 17” x 23” ; printed onto a 300gsm watercolour paper using lightfast inks which are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 100yrs we are informed.

The original picture was painted in Acrylic onto board & the image size was 24”x 19” (already sold in a matter of days after completion)

Please contact Roger on the following email mail@southwestperegrine.org.uk to place your order. Alternatively Call on 07864877125.

A limited chance to own your very own Peregrine Art

A good friend and very talented local Artist Dave Scott from South Devon has created another stunning image of a Peregrine Falcon. We can reveal that you too could enjoy this beautiful study of a Peregrine in your own living room. Dave who is completely self taught, has announced that a limited edition of 100 prints all individually signed & numbered by himself will be made available soon.

Dave Scott - Artist, South Devon
Dave Scott – Artist, South Devon

We asked Dave what was the inspiration behind his latest study of Britains largest breeding Falcon ‘Falco peregrinus’, he had the following to say:

The idea behind the piece was an exercise in light & dark really with female at rest in a quarry or rock face just catching the first rays of the day . Sat fluffed with foot up with the rocks & lichens capturing the whole essence of the birds in their preferred habitats & favourite perches . I’m sure you have watched them do the same many times on the cliffs just having a quiet moment to themselves, their predator instincts shut down very momentarily ! Until target sighted both feet down ! plumage slicked back in tight ! head bob & off !

The original picture was painted in Acrylic onto board & the image size was 24”x 19”.

We urge all of our followers to take a further look at Dave’s work by visiting his website dascottartist.com in which lies a wide selection of Art from the Natural World.

We will be posting details on how to place an order as soon as they become available once Dave returns from a holiday abroad.

Passage Osprey encounters Juvenile Peregrine

Local Devon based photographer and ‘Bird of Prey’ enthusiast Rich Edmondson, has kindly shared his experience from a recent outing, Rich captured all the action as it unfolded in front of him, giving an insight into how inquisitive or brazen our recently fledged Peregrine’s will be especially if a quick meal could be on the cards.

Rich said “I was at Lopwell Dam in Devon hoping to catch sight and photograph a reported Osprey.I had only been there about an hour when it appeared carrying a fish and being mobbed by a Juvenile Peregrine. It all happened very fast and I managed 7 photo’s.

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The Osprey did not seem that bothered by the attack and just twisted a few times to avoid it. Then carried on its way. It was great to witness and I am very pleased to have been able to capture and share my experience”

I am sure you’ll all agree that it is a wonderful set of Images and it really must have been quite an experience to witness this unfold before your very eyes. Passage Ospreys are occasionally seen in the Tamar, and Tavy river systems as well as around Plymouth Sound, they provide good feeding grounds as Birds migrate to and from their Winter feeding grounds in Africa.

You can see more of Rich’s work here, who leaves us with one more incredible image of this Osprey before it embarks on it’s long flight to Africa.

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Batten Bay Bio Blitz -Plymouth Sound

The group enjoyed the two days at the Mount Batten event last weekend. Over 200 school children attended on the Friday from local primary schools and many had their first Peregrine experience. We ran video exhibits to reach them of eyrie behaviour, they saw how the eye works and even got to see a Peregrine skeleton up close. Then they all measured their own wingspan and got a comparison to the equivalent British bird of prey. The Bio blitz was a huge success with some 788 species counted including Falco peregrinus…

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The organisers did fabulous job along with all the volunteers and contributors. We hope to be back next year and get involved with more education. Thanks go to Jack and Eliane.

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One intrepid group member even helped out Rock pooling and managed to go snorkelling in the bay.

‘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.

 

 

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