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Thursday 21 February 2019

Parliament - February 2019

After 3 successful breeding seasons at Victoria Palace I was hoping for more of the same for 2019, however after several visits in January and February, it looks like the Tiercel has gone unfortunately.

Similar to Battersea Power Station, the Tiercel has coincidentally disappeared there also, as we approach the egg laying stage(mid March) onwards I was hoping that both sites would have been replaced by now given that a few months have gone by.

Given the density of single birds around London and the number of juveniles produced each year drawn back to the City, not to mention ‘migrant’ UK peregrines living up to their Latin name ‘wanderer’, I am a little surprised it hasn’t happened already.

The Parliament Falcon is on her own unlike the Battersea Falcon, who has the juvenile Tiercel from 2018 still present, so hopefully it should be more straightforward possibly for the Parliament bird.
The Tiercel from Parliament was ringed, no colour ring but the standard BTO ring on his right leg, presumably if a colour ring was on the other leg it had broken or he never had one in the first place.

Hopefully on both sites the Tiercel will be replaced and they may still breed, with breeding shortly upon us and the urges and wanderlust it brings to unattached birds they may still be replaced.

Photos are from last week of the Parliament Falcon, for once she landed in the right spot to get some decent photos of her that do her justice.

Sunday 17 February 2019

Battersea Power Station

February – Nocturnal Hunting - more strings to her bow?

Following on from January’s post little has changed, the juvenile is still with the Falcon and showing no signs of going his own way, he is still displaying to her also. However she doesn’t seem as keen on his advances of ledge display from the CCTV images, she keeps renewing and forming the scrape so we will just have to wait and see.

The above title refers solely to the Falcon, one of the benefits from having access to CCTV and especially playback is that you don’t miss a thing, everything is recorded.

I have known, as has others that Peregrines hunt at night, they haven’t got an Owls large eyes to take in everything and hunt prey, but they do have incredible vision and more importantly in the City, artificial light.

It is enough to give them an edge and I think it happens nocturnally on some peregrine sites more than we think, I know I have turned up enough times at dawn in years past on numerous sites to see one or both birds sitting there with bulging crops.

I remember thinking a number of times, ahh they have had a nocturnal feast on cached prey, no hunting this morning, in fact it was just as likely that they had taken prey in the night.

The Battersea Falcon I think has taken this to another level, it is well known that they will go up and take nocturnal wild migrants or winter movers like Woodcock, Fieldfare, Redwing, Coot, Moorhen and Snipe but Feral Pigeon?

The wild birds are presumably reaction hunting, birds calling or seen overhead etc as they pass over.

Feral Pigeons do not, as far as I am aware, move around at night, once at roost they stay there as far as I know, often communally roosting.

Over the last 3 weeks the Falcon has bought in 11 Feral Pigeons nocturnally, intact birds and not from a cache, in short they have been taken shortly before she arrives.

The favoured times seem to be 1.00am to 4.30am, similar when she was taking the Black Headed Gulls; these no doubt were taken on the River.

What the Falcon is doing at Battersea, as I see it, is not nocturnal reaction hunting but pre meditated hunting as she knows where a food source is located.
I think she is flying into the Power Station at night, which is lit up as you can imagine from works and taking static roosting Feral Pigeons within.

Feral Pigeon

Just arrived with Feral Pigeon

Well fed and full crop

I at first thought this a Moorhen but checking the feathers on the CCTV in the morning showed another Feral Pigeon

All diurnal prey taken at the Power Station is always taken in pursuit, chasing down Ferals as they leave the Power Station. As I see it she would not be able to take them during the daylight hours static and resting, as they are far too mobile, alert and nimble in the tight spaces, Peregrines need room to manoeuvre and open sky. 

It looks as if she has learnt to exploit a food source inside nocturnally, possibly by accident and is now actively hunting as much nocturnally as she is diurnally.
Obviously much of this is surmising but it makes sense as they often chase Ferals inside but rarely catch one.

The illuminated light inside has made this possible for her to exploit this to her advantage, it adds up as having watched them for nearly 20 years, all hunting has nearly always been at and from the Power Station, they have no reason to go elsewhere for a food source with one on your doorstep.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Beckton - early February

Not great weather of late but Spring is showing the first signs with some birds beginning early courtship, Song Thrushes are already blasting out tunes and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are drumming, makes you feel warmer just hearing it.

The Common Buzzards are perhaps giving an indication that this year could be the one that they try and breed, I have marked all the old Carrion Crows nests so will be keeping an eye on them for signs of use.
Still trying to sort out who is who but pretty sure now, they are hard to sex, that the male is the one with the white crescent on its chest, I originally thought this was the female.

This was reinforced when I saw it go up after another passing Buzzard; it was then attacked so good signs of territoriality, at the time I could see the other Buzzard, hopefully the female sitting in a Tree so looking promising.

'White Crescent male' above going for intruder

The Kestrels as ever are glued to the nest box; the male now is giving Feral Pigeons the heave ho every time one comes near.

Saw them copulate so breeding is on again.

The Black Redstart is still favouring the same area of tanks but have now seen a 2nd bird, a more advanced male which is extremely elusive on another section of the site. A stronger wing bar was quite evident and more rich markings, hope to get some photos of this if it sticks.

Grey Seal

The bull Grey Seal again put in an appearance the other day and judging by the size of the fish he had, which looked like a Thick Lipped Mullet he was having a good morning.