Followers we have moved

We hope that anyone who has followed ‘A Pilgrim’s Tail’ here on WordPress will join us at our new home to stay up to date with all the latest news on the group.

We are at www.southwestperegrine.org.uk , a redesign of our website, we thank you all for your support and interest – we hope to see you all again very soon.

IMG_0193

Advertisements

The Ledge

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

A short film put together from numerous Trail Cam clips on a pluming ledge and cache used by an adult breeding pair of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus). It was the groups first time using this kind of technology to aid our fieldwork and studies, therefore we are pleased with the results and the capabilities of the device. It is no doubt a useful tool.

In this short ‘Winter’ study we have managed not only to capture both adult birds utilising the cache, but it shows the Tiercel (male) was at times reluctant to share the spoils with his mate. The powerful neck muscles in the Falcon (female) are clearly visible in the clip and some interesting vocalisations are also picked up.

Clear evidence of nocturnal activities with the birds visiting the cache not only in dusk and dawn but also during the small hours as well were recorded. We did not pick up prey being delivered at this time, but it is an indication that birds are still active in these remote and unlit areas; on the lookout for nocturnal migrants such as Woodcock aided only by moonlight. These are regular prey species as recorded in the study by Nick Dixon and Ed Drewitt at Exeter (St.Michaels), the longest running Urban collection of prey samples.

The camera itself was hidden inside of a fake rock, so it was less obtrusive to the birds. In the first couple of frames it does appear that the birds are aware of the device, but they quickly became use to its presence and in some night shots it would appear they were even sat on top of the rock.

Field studies like this will hopefully lead us to a better understanding of prey taken at different sites, as well as the interaction between the adult pairs. It may throw up other interesting factors, such as intruding birds, the ability to pick up tagged birds or as in our case small mammals also feeding on the prey remains (below – image only).

Screenshot 2015-08-29 at 15.51.36

This was shot using the Bushnell HD Trail Cam, supplied by HandyKam of Redruth, Cornwall.

Birdfair 2015

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

The Annual Birdfair at Egleton, Rutland Water Nature Reserve has come and gone once more. The largest Nature event on the planet often described as the Birdwatchers Glastonbury is a very special place to be amongst like minded people from all over the globe.

HANDYKAM

This is the second year South West Peregrine have been able to showcase and share some of the field study and research work that the group has been up to. Sharing this work with other similar groups and the general public is core to the group’s philosophy and this year was no exception.

Much interest was generated last year, with the South Devon birds that reared and fledged 3 Herring gull chicks, this year we had our work cut out to find anything on that scale. However, we did bring the events from a ledge showing interacting behaviours between adult birds as the pair bonding grows stronger in the months leading up to the breeding season. This also included some wonderful close up shots of both birds; along with night time shots where the birds have visited the ledge in near pitch darkness in search of a meal.

NIGHTSHOTWe were able to display the events of ringing young eyasses on the ledge at numerous Cornish Eyries,thanks to Dale Jackson’s head Cam footage from earlier in the year. Some people said watching this was indeed quite different to Urban peregrines and just watching the climbs made them feel a little queasy.

Dale

We had an exclusive update on the Co-operative attacks on Buteo buteo by the #Urban Peregrines of Exeter thanks to Co-authors Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs and with the kind permission of Devon Birds, with the publication only being released the week prior to Birdfair. Many Peregrine people stopped by to read the latest events of this aggressive falcon.

Exeter May 15_078

The group had produced two short videos for the Hawk and Owl Trust, one in support of the Adopt a Box scheme, where we had sited a Kestrel box in the Cornish Countryside and look forward to the results and opportunities to learn more about this smaller falcon species over the coming years. The second was a Short video shot by Luke Curno on the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) both of which were well received by the large number of visitors to the stand.

YOUNG BUZZARD

Thanks must firstly be given to the Hawk and Owl Trust for their continued support to ‘South West Peregrine’ and once again giving us the opportunity to share our work with the general public.

We would like to thank Mike Nash and the team at Handykam for their help on a number of small projects this year, without whom we would be unable to keep up to date with some of the latest technologies available.

Thanks to Dave Scott who has supported our work over the past few years and of which one of his fabulous limited edition signed prints was the raffle prize this year, which helps to raise funds to keep us out in the field.

If you have not yet experienced Birdfair it must go on your list. A social gathering of Naturalist and Birdwatchers, with something for every age group. A year to go to Birdfair 28 – we look forward to being there once again.Pair

Behavioural Query

Tags

, , , , , ,

Having recently been contacted via email we were asked to comment on an observed behaviour by Gemma and her partner whilst out walking the coast-path.

I’m hoping someone from your group might be able to help explain some behaviour we saw of a pair of peregrines close to P******** in Cornwall towards the end of May. A female was on a kill of a feral pigeon with an adult male nearby. The male was calling a lot whilst the female was plucking the bird. At one point they were both feeding but then we saw the female feed the male a few times. I don’t know if this is unusual but the male was clearly an adult and we thought if it was  a pair bonding thing it would be more usual for the male to give food to the female?

Gemma was kind enough to supply an image of this as well.

Female feeds Male

It’s quite common for well adjusted and close-bonded pairs to feed each other. The Females will chup with every beak-full they feed to a male, just as if he were a chick.
Often it is the female feeding her mate that is observed, but it has also been observed for males to feed females, especially when she is incubating eggs or close-brooding chicks during bad weather.
Often, adults feeding each other is indeed a pair-bonding thing but it can also be habit/hormone based, particularly in the breeding season. It might be thought that, in pair bonding, the male would feed his mate, but he has already dramatically adjusted from his instinctive behaviour by giving up a kill to the female.
If the birds have been tandem-hunting, the female will usually carry the kill back home, and then give up the head to the male. If he is not satisfied with that alone, he will solicit for food and is usually fed for a while.
See the videos here of a pair slightly out of sync in the breeding season. The male is given the head, but wants more. He is fed by his mate, but then takes the whole kill for himself and she does not retaliate in nay way.
(This particular pair failed on a single egg, probably due to being out of sync with each other, this despite the male doing everything ‘right’ up until mid-March.)

We very much thank Gemma for her email and comments, it just goes to show the more that you observe the more you will learn or the more questions you can raise putting theories to the test. No two pairs behave in the same manor due to numerous factors, so it is always worth sitting and watching rather than taking for granted what we have read or seen before.

An opportunity to witness Cooperative Attacks by Urban Peregrines on Common Buzzard.

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Sunday 7th of June members of South West Peregrine joined Urban Peregrine researcher’s Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs, the co-authors of the British Birds Article ‘Cooperative Attacks By Urban Peregrine on Common Buzzard’ (May 2015 Issue), opposite the home of the study pair at  St Michael’s & All Angels Church, Exeter. A small team of watchers all alone on a multi-story car park roof, armed only with binoculars, scope, flasked coffee and notebook. 

IMG_20150607_114108

We had arrived early and already the Tiercel was in the air as we got into position, an alarm call being directed at the Falcon as he began to ring up (series of flaps and glide in a tight circle, gaining height on an early thermal) made him easy to pick out in the clear blue skies. The Falcon, now sat upright, alerted, on the gable end above the eyrie (a box installed and located behind a trefoil),looked on at her mate; calculating her route to join him. A Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) came into our view, effortless gliding and roughly following  the course of the River Exe far below; at this point still unaware of the dangers of drifting into this ferociously guarded territory.

It is worth noting that the two young are only days away from estimated fledging with the young male expected to go on Thursday 11th of June (42 days from hatching). So no threat is directly posed to the young eyasses from this passing raptor at this point in time.DSC_2481

The Tiercel quickly reached a height just above the Buzzard, still hecking his alarm, the Falcon had by now left her perch and with rapid wing beats headed on a looping course behind the Church spire, climbing quickly to join her mate. Before she arrived in position the first stoop from the male on the Buzzard was witnessed, not a full speed attack and not directly at it, but in doing so the Buzzard now knew it was in danger. A second and more threatening stoop this time by the female made this threat intensify. The Male was now almost instantly, back in position above the Buzzard, who was heading in a South Westerly direction, within seconds the Tiercel was in again, quicker and now more threatening himself this time around.

Nowhere to hide

Calling from the pair could still be heard from our vantage point and we watched in awe as the Falcon was once again diving at the helpless buzzard; It flipped onto its back presenting its talons has a means of defence. It began to lose height deliberately and wing beats where seen has it tried to make its retreat. We witnessed 14 stoops in all before the Buzzard made good his escape and the pair turned back toward the spire. 

Exeter May 15_078

What we witnessed as a group over the next 4 hours will go down as one of the most remarkable accounts in our relatively short 8 years as a group watching Peregrine Falcons together. Nine attacks in all where witnessed, both Adults spent the majority of this time in the air defending this territory only briefly returning to pitch in on the Spire or Cross, always remaining on high alert. Attacks seemed to be called off once the intruder was approximately 1km away from the Church Spire (in any direction) A number of hits on Buteo buteo where observed, these seemed in the main to be by the larger and possibly more aggressive Falcon.

The Maximum number of attacks by the pair on this beautiful morning was 45 in total; one buzzard was sent spiralling to the ground, seemingly having flown its last flight. However on trying to recover this bird it was seen making an escape first to a nearby tree and then into a clump of trees in a nearby garden. During this time both birds remained on high alert and 2 level flight attacks were launched from the spire until the were certain any imposed threat had passed.

Exeter May 15_Feathers fly

We said our goodbyes at around 13:00, the afternoon watch was about to commence, what we had witnessed formed the basis of conversation all the way back to Plymouth.

Anyone wishing to read the full detailed account of the Dixon/Gibbs Study helped by local watchers should read the published Article in British Birds

Exeter May 15_106

SWP thank Nick Dixon and Andrew Gibbs for the opportunity to join them and in their sharing so much knowledge.

Check out Nick Dixon’s profile as an Urban Peregrine research specialist on his website

‘Quarry Falcon’ – Limited edition signed print is now available

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Available Now – 100 copies of this fine ‘Quarry Falcon at rest’ by local Artist David A. Scott so do not delay.

Dave Scott - Artist, South Devon

David A. Scott – Artist, South Devon

You had better be quick if you want to be the owner of one of these fabulous Limited edition and numbered signed prints.

At a very reasonable price of £55 plus £7 P&P the item will be shipped to your home, It will be protected in a special Art mailer tube to ensure its safe arrival.

Only 100 copies are being produced and early signs are that they will be going quickly with much interest already being showed.

The dimensions are 17” x 23” ; printed onto a 300gsm watercolour paper using lightfast inks which are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 100yrs we are informed.

The original picture was painted in Acrylic onto board & the image size was 24”x 19” (already sold in a matter of days after completion)

Please contact Roger on the following email mail@southwestperegrine.org.uk to place your order. Alternatively Call on 07864877125.

Passage Osprey and Red Kite on Local Patch

Tags

, , ,

SWP Field worker Bob Bosisto managed to record two additions along with active Peregrine Eyries on his local patch in North Cornwall. Bob had spent the day on the coastline checking out traditional eyrie haunts and whilst recording data  for the BTO still found time to point the Camera skyward and capture two record shots of Osprey and Red kite. Red Kite are occasionally seen whilst out and about as numbers steadily increase, but the Osprey is great to see making it’s way northwards no doubt heading back to a breeding territory.

Red Kite Cornwall 15

We always laugh at what people are missing out on as they take in the stunning Cornish Views, always take time out of what you are doing and look skywards, you never know what you might spot.

Passage Osprey

First of the Season

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

The first of the Season for the group have appeared at the same eyrie yet again (they like to get it done and dusted early it would seem)

Having watched them incubate over the past couple of weeks we had estimated the date of the first Eyass to be around the 24th of April, and as it turns out on a Visit on Wednesday 22nd the Falcon was still sitting tight, when she left for a short spell to stretch her wings, you could tell she had just finished a long stint; she looked stiff and a little fed up as she circled the cove. Within two minutes she was back though, a mum’s work is never done ‘or so I was told!’

The next visit on the 25th (as this is of course all voluntary, if only it was paid employment) proved a joyous occasion. On arrival, and glassing over the eyrie she almost had a smile. You could just tell it had happened, within minutes she was forced to reveal a new bundle of fluff, or at least a wing or thigh (who can tell from 200+Metres through a scope with cam attached)

Next a head, also an egg, still yet to hatch. How many? the mind starts to wonder. Two hopefully, that would be nice ( as it was raining hard by now). Thirty minutes Peregriinning (this I believe is now a real word, I have used it on many occasions and like minded people don’t bat an eye) passes quickly no matter the weather. The equipment is getting looked after more as I remove my hat to ensure water does not reach the camera as leaning over is no longer enough. (yeah right)

She’s calling; her mate has arrived with food and has gone to pluck the quarry. She is agitated, calling across the cove, restless but still dutiful in covering the young eyasses. He is taking to long and we all need food I guess is her thought, as she awkwardly lifts herself over the white fluff.  then she departs the eyrie (on a mission) a big smile (this time from me) yep two, their bodies huddled together to maintain warmth. Nope wait, is it?, yes it is, there is a third and still one unhatched.

Three confirmed, and Egg (Thats the BTO NRS record card sorted). She is a brute when ripping the meat from the carcass, and then so delicate in the way in which each hungry youngster is fed; only a little at a time. You have to say Nature is just Brilliant.

A limited chance to own your very own Peregrine Art

Tags

, , , , , , ,

A good friend and very talented local Artist Dave Scott from South Devon has created another stunning image of a Peregrine Falcon. We can reveal that you too could enjoy this beautiful study of a Peregrine in your own living room. Dave who is completely self taught, has announced that a limited edition of 100 prints all individually signed & numbered by himself will be made available soon.

Dave Scott - Artist, South Devon

Dave Scott – Artist, South Devon

We asked Dave what was the inspiration behind his latest study of Britains largest breeding Falcon ‘Falco peregrinus’, he had the following to say:

The idea behind the piece was an exercise in light & dark really with female at rest in a quarry or rock face just catching the first rays of the day . Sat fluffed with foot up with the rocks & lichens capturing the whole essence of the birds in their preferred habitats & favourite perches . I’m sure you have watched them do the same many times on the cliffs just having a quiet moment to themselves, their predator instincts shut down very momentarily ! Until target sighted both feet down ! plumage slicked back in tight ! head bob & off !

The original picture was painted in Acrylic onto board & the image size was 24”x 19”.

We urge all of our followers to take a further look at Dave’s work by visiting his website dascottartist.com in which lies a wide selection of Art from the Natural World.

We will be posting details on how to place an order as soon as they become available once Dave returns from a holiday abroad.

Team install Kestrel Box

Tags

, , , , , ,

A short film has been produced to show the ease of installing a Kestrel box. We encourage anyone who has access to suitable habitat to give this a go for themselves. It is not only our garden birds that need homes at this time of year, many of our Birds of Prey also need our help.

The team are now looking to install a Barn Owl and Tawny Owl box along with artificial stick nests to encourage other raptors. We will keep you updated as to the progress of these projects in future posts.