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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Winter Peregrines

Over the winter I have been collecting prey at 2 or 3 sites which are accessible, what is now becoming more and more apparent, at these particular sites, is the fact that nocturnal hunting is becoming the norm rather than an occasional occurrence. On one site in particular, I am turning up at dawn and both Tiercel and Falcon are sitting there with bulging crops, they have not fed at first light, they have already fed in the dark.

Whether or not this is opportune feeding or normal nocturnal hunting I am not sure. Are they roosting as per normal and then hearing, or with there eyesight, possibly seeing migrant nocturnal movers? Does this hunting coincide with clear skies when there is more movement, so far it does, a majority of the times when they are sitting there with full crops, follows clear skies that night.

In most of the identified prey that I have gathered, it is quite obvious straight away which is diurnal and which is nocturnal, Moorhen, Woodcock, Little Grebe and Water Rail are showing up. These are all weak flying birds that you rarely see moving great distances low or high in the daytime. Additionally I have found at the prime nocturnal site, 3 Redwings stashed together, 2 intact and one partially eaten, these are massive nocturnal movers, I suspect these were also taken at night.

A big misconception with Peregrines having watched them in London for around 11 years, is that they rarely fail, they do, and at times quite a lot. Feral Pigeons are not always an easy target and are more maneuverable than the bulkier Peregrines. Peregrines are persistent A to B pursuit hunters, they are all power and speed, it is basically, see it, chase it, catch/miss and then more often than not, return to the same spot and then wait for another to pass. Hunting is usually from a structure in the centre of there territory, the classic ‘ stoop ‘ I have only ever seen once in London.

The other day I visited a site in London to bag up prey, and was dived on for my troubles by the resident female, even though it is still over 2 months till egg laying, they are still territorial this early on. Quite a sight to see her coming down at speed at you, great to see, managed to get a couple of out of focus shots of her. She pulled up above my head but the message was quite clear.

Falcon beginning dive

Quite a sight

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