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Thursday, 23 August 2018

Battersea Power Station - Filming

August 17th   

On Friday 17th, BBC London visited the Power Station to hopefully film the Peregrines and try and make a  star out of me, needless to say it didn't work on my part, the Peregrines will always be the stars. 
Arriving on site at 4.30am, we were all in position by 5.00am high on the East side.

As luck would have it we had picked a great day for filming, especially considering the weather the day before, consequently I was extremely relieved to see a great sunrise, the rest was up to the birds.

En route I had checked the usual roost positions in the darkness, I located the 2 adults and the single juvenile nicknamed ‘Solo’ at roost but couldn't see if they had full crops or not.
My concern was that if a clear night, which it had been, they may have hunted nocturnally and all 3 could have possibly already fed. If this was the case they would just sit around for up to 5 hours
before they became active/ hunted again and we would likely not see much activity for filming.

Over the years I have turned up enough times at dawn, on clear nights, to see them sitting there with massive crops having already fed nocturnally, hopefully it would not be this morning.

As you can imagine after gaining access to the new slab with the BBC people and others, I was rather relieved when firstly, Solo appeared after 15 or so minutes then followed shortly later by the Falcon.
Both made straight for the Cranes, they had not fed so hopefully hunting was on, going by the racket that the juvenile was making, it sounded like he hadn't eaten for a week.
It was quite a while before the 1st hunt, Feral Pigeon numbers have definitely reduced judging by the numbers of birds leaving the Power Station, the Peregrines hunt these as they leave going south.

During the course of the morning the Falcon undertook 4 hunts and the Tiercel, who didn't show for a couple of hours, 3 hunts, some very close near misses, 2 were struck but they failed to hold.
More or less every Crane was used, especially the ones with baskets at the end to hunt from, even when most were working, the Peregrines, including Solo simply stayed in position turning round as the Crane turned.
Not only have they adapted to the Cranes, they have also mastered the art of staying aboard whilst the Cranes are working, even when jibbing up and down.

As I have said before, I know I am biased as I have a passion for them; they are an absolutely incredible species which seem to adapt and take everything in their stride including a major construction site.
Solo with lots of enthusiasm was getting in the way sometimes on hunts but was also trying for himself, in one instance hitting a pigeon, failing to hold and then returning back with talons full of feathers, he is getting close to the finished article.(This was in the filming when I got a little excited and dramatic and was heard to say, he’s got something repeatedly.)

Hunting by the adults seemed half hearted at times with no tenacity and I expect this was due to the gathering heat; it was certainly getting very hot.
Eventually the Falcon retired to the shade leaving the Tiercel with Solo in attendance on the north east chimney, which is how we left them.
They would eventually take prey but they are in no rush and have the patience of the predator.

Falcon on one of the Luffer Cranes




Trying himself going for a Feral Pigeon

Gathering speed

Juvenile with Tiercel, 'mantling' possibly trying to stay cool or intimidate his Dad into feeding him

Staying on Crane even whilst working

Juvenile and Tiercel



The BBC people thought the site was great, they got some good footage and found the peregrines quite incredible, at times struggling to keep up with the sheer speed of them as they hunted. 
A great day, the footage went out on Monday, not unexpectedly some of what I said was not used like Hen Harrier and Birds of Prey Persecution on Grouse Moors, additionally Black Redstarts that also breed on site.

I also mentioned what Battersea Power Station Development Company Limited and MACE have done for the birds, including how workers/crane drivers look out for the birds/toolbox talks, management plan and safety measures on site etc, unfortunately not used.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed it, a lot of credit should go to BPSDC and MACE for the incredible mitigation put in place on site, the Peregrines most successful breeding period has been when Construction began in 2013.

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