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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Drones and Peregrines

I was introduced to Drones in 2011, I remember thinking at the time, Drones and Peregrines are not going to mix, a territorial peregrine may well perceive them as a threat.
The site was Battersea Power Station, at the time it was the old Falcon, (now replaced) she had not bred for 3 years and it was well out of the breeding season.

I monitored the filming, but previous to this I got them to test the Drone 50 metres from where she was resting, the instructions were not to go up too high, if she reacted drop it as fast as possible.

On this day, December 26th 2011 she did not react, the Drone stayed very low and she just watched it intently, however I have little doubt that if she was in the breeding season with eggs or chicks to protect, a pair’s reaction would be totally different.
Anyone involved with Peregrines will tell you that levels of aggression are high when there territorial, you only have to see their reaction as to when a Buzzard or a Crow comes too near the nest site.

They are not likely to ignore a Drone if it comes too near, very likely they will attack it being no respecters of size, in this the problem will come from the rotors.
If this occurs and they hit it, probably from above, the danger comes from the spinning blades, it is entirely possible that they could lose or break a leg or worse.

If it is a threat and too close to the nest site there aggression will take over.

In London where the density of peregrines is high, Drones will no doubt be used on high rise buildings for filming/surveys etc..if near a pair there could well be problems.

Additionally if in an urban area and a peregrine knocks one down, how about the safety aspect if in a public area? You only have to look at the link below to visualise this coming down in a crowd.

On top of this, if in the breeding season and licence period there is Schedule 1 to think of, if they disturb or stress the peregrines, at or near the nest site they are breaking the Wildlife Laws, this applies whether it be on a building or on some remote rural site.

They are going to be popular, they already are I suspect this Christmas, however before they start appearing everywhere I think we need some legislation, at the very least guards over the rotors.

Having researched the subject in America, they are already having problems of birds attacking Drones, not just birds of prey either. Below is a quote from Aviation from across the pond.

“As costs go down and ease of use goes up, more and more drones are going to enter American skies. Last month, the Federal Aviation Authority reported an increase in drones spotted near other aircraft, raising fears that an errant drone may imperil a manned airplane. But drones don’t just pose a risk to human-made aircraft. They can also threaten birds.

In May, the National Park Service banned drones from Yosemite National Park, specifically noting that “drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls.” In June, this ban was extended beyond Yosemite to all national parks. Not long after, a tourist crashed a drone into the otherwise-pristine waters of Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring, reinforcing the risk posed by the technology if used irresponsibly”.

Food for thought....

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