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South West Peregrine

Cornwall & Devon Peregrine Falcon Study Group since 2007

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Falcon

Falcon, protecting her young from the Devonshire summer rains.

A short sequence taken from Bushnell camera trap footage, over an hours period in June 2016, Devon, UK.

The Falcon does her best to protect three young chicks from a summer downpour. Weather play’s a huge part in the young’s survival; however with a good food source, and a well drained ledge, all three went onto successfully fledge in July.

This was this particular Falcons third successful breeding season, now having reared eight young in total.

A drenched Peregrine Falcon – Summer 2016 from South West Peregrine on Vimeo.

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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.

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.

Birdfair 2015

The Annual Birdfair at Egleton, Rutland Water Nature Reserve has come and gone once more. The largest Nature event on the planet often described as the Birdwatchers Glastonbury is a very special place to be amongst like minded people from all over the globe.

HANDYKAM

This is the second year South West Peregrine have been able to showcase and share some of the field study and research work that the group has been up to. Sharing this work with other similar groups and the general public is core to the group’s philosophy and this year was no exception.

Much interest was generated last year, with the South Devon birds that reared and fledged 3 Herring gull chicks, this year we had our work cut out to find anything on that scale. However, we did bring the events from a ledge showing interacting behaviours between adult birds as the pair bonding grows stronger in the months leading up to the breeding season. This also included some wonderful close up shots of both birds; along with night time shots where the birds have visited the ledge in near pitch darkness in search of a meal.

NIGHTSHOTWe were able to display the events of ringing young eyasses on the ledge at numerous Cornish Eyries,thanks to Dale Jackson’s head Cam footage from earlier in the year. Some people said watching this was indeed quite different to Urban peregrines and just watching the climbs made them feel a little queasy.

Dale

We had an exclusive update on the Co-operative attacks on Buteo buteo by the #Urban Peregrines of Exeter thanks to Co-authors Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs and with the kind permission of Devon Birds, with the publication only being released the week prior to Birdfair. Many Peregrine people stopped by to read the latest events of this aggressive falcon.

Exeter May 15_078

The group had produced two short videos for the Hawk and Owl Trust, one in support of the Adopt a Box scheme, where we had sited a Kestrel box in the Cornish Countryside and look forward to the results and opportunities to learn more about this smaller falcon species over the coming years. The second was a Short video shot by Luke Curno on the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) both of which were well received by the large number of visitors to the stand.

YOUNG BUZZARD

Thanks must firstly be given to the Hawk and Owl Trust for their continued support to ‘South West Peregrine’ and once again giving us the opportunity to share our work with the general public.

We would like to thank Mike Nash and the team at Handykam for their help on a number of small projects this year, without whom we would be unable to keep up to date with some of the latest technologies available.

Thanks to Dave Scott who has supported our work over the past few years and of which one of his fabulous limited edition signed prints was the raffle prize this year, which helps to raise funds to keep us out in the field.

If you have not yet experienced Birdfair it must go on your list. A social gathering of Naturalist and Birdwatchers, with something for every age group. A year to go to Birdfair 28 – we look forward to being there once again.Pair

‘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.

Herring Gulls close to fledging, raised by adult Peregrine Falcons

With this latest and likely now to be last update on the Peregrine rearing 3 Herring gulls on the South West coast of England, due to likelihood that the next possible visit they may have fledged. In that scenario it will be near impossible to film due to restrictions on equipment used. However here we see them being closely guarded by their adoptive mother, in all visits she has been very close to the ledge always keeping an eye on them. This visit we saw them feeding or at least picking over the remains of a carcass retrieved and left for them. They are all in good condition and we will endeavour to bring you the outcome of their fate, good or bad.
We hope this has provided interest over these few weeks, although we wish to return to a successful brood of peregrines next year. I’m sure you will all agree nature is marvellous and yet can be strange and still throw us a few surprises now and then.

 

The original witnessing of an event similar in Dorset in June 2001 can be read in the attached document

‘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.

 

 

Plym Peregrines

Plymbridge Woods, in Devon, England have had a ‘Peregrine Watch’ since the year 2000, after the resident Peregrine Falcons were poisoned. Every year since teams of volunteers dutifully keep watch over the resident falcons from March through to  fledging in late June/July and beyond. With this watch in place and the kindly donated telescopes that are provided, the general public get to witness the full breeding cycle, from initial mating through to young eyasses being taught to hunt. It is a unique location as Cann Quarry viaduct, a disused GWR railway bridge across the river Plym provides an eye level view into the eyrie.

Depending upon where the birds choose to nest, we can be watching from as little as 100 yards away. This gives people the opportunity to observe without causing any disturbance. Peregrines are are known to have used this quarry for over 50 years now and most years since the watch started they have been successful in raising offspring.
This year is different, as the Adults are joined by last years Tiercel, who remains on site, begging food from the adults and showing no sign of catching his own prey. He is tolerated, but for how much longer, as now attentions turn to the newly hatched chicks.
Please come and visit this unique site and enjoy a wonderful walk through the woods and along the river.

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