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Catching up and looking ahead with the peregrines

A chance to catch up with the events of last year's peregrine action and looking ahead to another busy season of falcon-watching.

A quick catch-up

Well, there certainly is a lot to catch up on since my last blog post! Last year, the then-resident male and female fledged four young peregrines – another great achievement by the pair. It wasn't all plain sailing after fledging for the young peregrines, however, and at least one of them was found at street level, later rescued by a member of the public and taken to a rescue centre (on that note, if you see a juvenile peregrine at street level this year, please contact NTU or Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for advice). The fate of the bird is unknown, as with the other juveniles, who have not been seen around the nest site since the end of June.

Rather excitingly, almost straight after the young had fledged, a new peregrine was spotted hanging around the nest site. We know it was a bird not seen at the nest before because it had been ringed with a British Trust for Ornithologists (BTO) metal ring, which has a unique code on it for all birds ringed in the UK. The new male also wears a coloured ring with two large letters or numbers on it so they can easily be identified in flight, or in this case, on camera. After contacting the BTO, it was confirmed that this bird was a male ringed as a juvenile in London in 2012. So, from that one ring we know that the new bird is almost five years old, has travelled at least 130 miles from his natal site, and is truly an urban explorer! Where he was for the first few years of his life will remain a mystery, however. 

Soon after the new male was spotted, the resident male was seen less and less often, until he disappeared completely. Peregrines tend to be faithful to their nest sites and to their mate, so it is likely that the previous male was old and possibly died. It looks like the new male is here to stay – let's just hope he lives up to the high expectations set by the previous male.

The eagle-eyed among you may have also noticed the new nest box, which was only replaced a few weeks ago. Peregrines tend to be very messy, and the nest site can soon be filled with lots of prey debris and growing seeds, probably brought in via the stomachs of the prey. The new box is thus probably very welcome for the resident peregrines.

A look ahead to the new breeding season

It is now early March, and that can only mean one thing in the peregrine world: courtship time! The male and female have already started to show bonding behaviours, including bowing to each other and making a "scrape" in the box ready for egg laying. The peregrines at Nottingham are usually one of the earliest in the country to start egg-laying; however, it will be interesting to see whether this changes with the presence of the new male.

This year, in order for us to keep you updated more frequently, the blog is going to be be jointly run by the myself and members of NTU's Conservation Society. Members of the society often carry out important conservation work on NTU's Brackenhurst Campus, as well as in other parts of Nottinghamshire, so they hope to keep you updated on their work too.

Exeter peregrines

Peregrines are now found in cities all over the UK, and one of the first cities peregrines bred in was Exeter. Like our Nottingham pair, the peregrines' nest site has a camera installed, but the team is hoping to install a new, better-quality HD camera. The peregrines there have for many years been carefully studied by Nick Dixon. Nick has recently written a booklet all about the breeding behaviours, development of the young, prey selection, and some really interesting interactions between peregrines and buzzards. It is worth a read if you want to find out more about urban peregrines, and it's only £6. If you are interested, please contact Nick directly.

Esther Kettel

Catching up and looking ahead with the peregrines

Published on 8 March 2017
  • Category: Environment and sustainability

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