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Saturday, July 13, 2013

13th July

Peregrine Falcons in SW London.

Last year as one of the members of the London Peregrine Partnership I was given the task to check out reports that Peregrine Falcons may have been nesting not to far from my place of work. Making contact with the owners of buildings that may have these iconic bird nesting on them is sometimes not always as easy as it should be. Whether it was my charm and wit but they were only to glad to allow me, a local Met Polices wildlife officer and one of the guys that had brought this site to our attention. We went up on to the roof where we discovered a female sitting on eggs. I then outlined measures that needed to be taken to try and make this site as secure as possible for that year, with the aim of further improvements and provision of a nest tray for 2013. However after calculating when the eggs were likely to hatch and that time coming and going I realised that things were not as they should be. I could see the odd adult near the nest but I never saw food being taken in. It was decided that it would be best to go and check it out. The building managers were excited at the prospect of having young on their premises. I however had to tell them that it wasn’t looking good. We climbed the last flight of stairs to the door to the roof and the supposed locked door was ajar, It should have been locked. On arriving at the nest site there was only one egg remaining, this was away from the scrape and I could tell that it was addled. Where, when and what happened to the others is unclear.

In 2013 security was beefed up and a tray was put in position. We then sat back and waited for the birds to return. The pair were seen in the area but not as frequently as one would expect. To calculate a likely hatch date if eggs had been laid I had to visit the site and if none had been laid I could inform the owners that normal maintenance could resume, it often has to stop if birds take up residence. It was a puzzle as to why the hadn’t used the tray or a box on a nearby building. The male was often seen and very rarely the female too, leading me to think that she could be nesting somewhere else. I arranged to go back up on to the roof of last years failed nesting attempt to scan the area. I went with one of the security guards who had been keeping an eye on the birds if they were on the building. We debated where he was seeing the birds and then scanned the area. It didn’t take long before one and then both the adults were seen. They were sitting not to far apart, the female then dropped out of site. I went to investigate closer and was pleased to find that she had nested and had three 12 day old chicks (1 male and 2 females). The downside was the site she had chosen was very vulnerable. However with the help of another group of security guards and CCTV cameras the birds were seldom disturbed, that was until just before fledging when the very vocal young often drew attention to their whereabouts. I then managed to get a small group of volunteers together, whom I am very grateful to, to watch the young during the fledging period. It is always a traumatic time for all involved birds and volunteers, as you never know if things are going to go smoothly. Well I am pleased to say that everything went without a hitch. That is apart from after about a week of flying and possibly because he got to cocky the male bird dropped down into a small courtyard and couldn’t get out. Luckily for him it was at the site of the failed breeding attempt so security phoned me. I was on site within 15 minutes and soon had hold of the bird, well in fact he had hold of me. Knowing how sharp their talons are, and being as careful as possible to avoid them I made that fatal error and adjusted my hold secure. That was a silly thing to do, one of his talons slipped nicely through my finger, four weeks later it still hasn’t recovered.

The birds though not always seen daily seem to be doing well on varied avian diet.

If you wish to see more than the selection of photos below checkout;





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He looks calm and angelic two minutes before skewering my finger like a kebab.


Female (above) and male (below)



I wasn’t happy that he brought in a Green Woodpecker one morning when there are parakeets everywhere. To be fair to him, he normally brings in at least one pesky parrot a day. 


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