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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What price December?

On Monday I paid another visit to a regular site, this is the site of the juvenile with the damaged wing referred to in very recent posts, see Late Juvenile and Late Juvenile – impaired?
As yet I have still not been able to read its leg ring but am now pretty sure it is a male after getting better views of its structure and head and being able to compare its size directly with its Dad on Monday.
It’s easy to be wrong with them and as much as you think you know, there is always more you don’t know, it is good to be wrong as it gives you a kick up the arse.

As you can see from above it is still present and I am now wondering if it will go into December, from all the visits in November, 4 in number it is solely reliant on the adult Tiercel to provide food although visually it flies well. The key I think to it staying that the Falcon seemingly has not been present all November , she does do this most winters and leaved the Tiercel to hold territory and defend the nest site. The Tiercel shows no hostility to it and I observed them on Monday morning sitting not a metre from each other, if the Falcon was to return now it may well be a different reaction and story. Would she just accept the juvenile still being present, who knows, do they recognise that it may not be capable of taking its own prey, I very much doubt it?


On the part of the Tiercel the same thing has happened twice that I have observed, again on Monday also, the juvenile is intercepting him in flight when he is returning with prey, this is normal, a food pass. The adult has little choice in releasing the prey as he is so low anyway, it is always early morning, no lift or heat, a feral pigeon is quite a heavy bird. What I am getting at is he intentionally letting go and feeding him or does he have little choice in the matter? In short is the juvenile mugging his Dad knowing that in flight this is his best way of getting food off him, otherwise if he lands it might be a different story and he may not relinquish the prey and mantle it.

Additionally is the adult Tiercel so conditioned to feeding and providing even at this late stage, he possibly cannot help himself, the presence of the juvenile and the constant begging call just acts as a stimulus? How long does the maternal instinct go on for?


Adult Tiercel

Saying all the above, if the adult wanted the prey for himself surely he would fly to a different area and location to hunt and feed?

I have also been thinking of the wing damage, juvenile males always seem to leave first and one possibility is that he has tangled with another peregrine; at least 3 primaries are missing.
P2, 3 and 4 seem present but it looks as if P5, 6 and 7 are gone, possibly 8 as well, he flies ok, even with prey but I suspect it must effect his manoeuvrability when chasing prey.

The only other scenario would be an injury whilst pursuing prey and possibly clipping an obstacle low down in the heat of the chase.
Unfortunately this will not rectify itself until he gets his first moult in 2014, the trick will be staying alive that long…..

I am hoping that the wing damage is not as restrictive as I think and the adult Tiercel is being extra tolerant and allowing him to stay, will the Falcon share his views when she returns, I very much doubt it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Late Juvenile - impaired?

This bird which I first noted back in September easily stands out due to the fact that she has some missing primaries in her right wing, what surprises me is that she is still present in November. It looks as if the adults are not only tolerating her but feeding her still, it is a little unusual this late but after watching both adults ignore her begging calls last week I didn’t expect her to be present on Sunday, let alone being fed.

Even more of a surprise was the fact that the Tiercel allowed her to take prey off him after last week; this took place in an aerial food pass as the juvenile intercepted him. It could be that he didn’t have a lot of choice, he was low and had to release, it was very early in bad light and he was possibly struggling with the prey. With her hanging on there was likely no other option, additionally also it could be that to an extent, juvenile females, due to their size and brood dominance over males bring about this reaction even from their father. He in particular of this pair is the main provider and the instinct to react to the begging calls and feed is still strong, he is still very territorial likely due to the juvenile’s presence. Having said that last week he totally ignored the juvenile but the Falcon was present, following her lead?
I have heard from America that some brood juvenile females have dominated adult Tiercel’s returning whenever they like and relieving them of prey, I suspect this is when the adult Falcon is not present.
Such may have been this case as I did not see the adult Falcon all morning.

Black Headed Gull being brave whilst she is bringing in prey in poor light

The damaged wing clearly seen

Lo light photo showing the extent of the damage - impairing her hunting?

About to feed

Another reason and possibly the right one is that the damage to the right wing is impairing her ability to hunt and it could be that she is having trouble catching prey of her own; this would make sense also due to the lateness of her still being present. She may still be so reliant on the adults, it could be she has not the confidence to go out on her own, I wonder how long they will tolerate her, especially the Falcon.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Finding a perfect nest site

As many of you may know Peregrines are listed as a Schedule 1 species, and as such are given the highest protection that the Wildlife laws allow. All breeding birds, there active nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981.This protection makes it an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or to take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst that nest is in use or being built.
Add to this in relation to Schedule 1 birds and the following is applied, it is illegal to disturb pairs while they are nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young or disturb dependant young.

As such and across London the Schedule 1 licensing laws for peregrines apply from February 1st until mid July minimum, of course sometimes there are ‘issues’.

Peregrines are not tolerant of people when nesting and in most cases when they are nesting on or slightly below a roof top the whole roof becomes off limits, even large roofs. In many cases even if the incubating Falcon is not in view it will be likely that the Tiercel will be sitting above or at the highest point of the nest site to cover any ‘threats’. Anyone walking onto a roof and visual, even at distance, he will react loudly and at times this is communicated to the incubating Falcon and she comes of the eggs/young, not good. Of course this constitutes disturbance.

Getting and finding the ideal building in London is becoming harder, many are renting out there roof space to the Mobile Phone Companies and this obviously generates money, from this you can see where the conflict arises if peregrines come along and decides to nest on the roof. If this happens as you can imagine it is not always well received when I have to tell companies there is now no access during the licence period unless a proven emergency, and only then with a licence holder present.
By and large though the mobile phone companies have been great on established sites and some companies recognising that it is likely to be long term have totally enclosed there walkways to their huts so as to offer no disturbance and more importantly avoid breaching the wildlife laws.

Other issues that arise are routine roof maintenance and window cleaning, beit an office block or residential block, the law again applies, people want clean windows, I do but if windows are cleaned via access from the roof the law again applies.

I can see both sides and you have to be able to see the bigger picture, obviously being licensed carries a certain level of responsibility and you have to be fair and not just lay down the law at every opportunity. You can’t just say – you can’t this and you can’t that, there has to be a compromise of sorts to keep everyone happy.

As the title says finding and keeping the perfect nest site is hard in both settled and new pairings, in the case of new pairings they choose the building and you just have to go with it. Peregrines are totally unpredictable and as I have said in the past the same reasoning cannot be applied to all, each pairing has its own characteristics.
Structures are less troublesome due to their lack (usually) of human habitance at higher levels – Churches, Cathedrals etc.., the downside to this sometimes is a lack of exercise space for fledging juveniles, in some cases it leads to grounding. Having said that much depends on the weather on the day of fledging.

I visited a site on Thursday morning in north east London which has failed for the last few years on a structure which is unsuitable it seems for breeding, this site is due for demolition so I and others are trying to find them an alternative site. Having scouted a number of buildings within their territory all are residential and all have mobile phone masts on the roof, placing a nest box would lead to conflict.
I have two other avenues to explore and it is unlikely that the first choice will be accepted, but the 2nd although not ideal in terms of position it has the height and if a nest box was to be allowed it would face in the right direction, east. The bottom line is it would give them a chance, its within there territory.

Time will tell, I know a well placed nest box is all that this pair need for successful breeding, finding a nest site is another matter.