April 22nd, 2013
One morning last week we received a call from the operations manager of a building in London informing us that a Peregrine Falcon had become trapped on their rooftop. Fortunately we still had gloves and a box on standby from last season, so after a few phone calls and a short tube journey later we had someone on site to help rescue the bird.
In a tight spot
The Peregrine, an adult male, had blood on its right shoulder and on one side of its head. Birds of prey need to be in top condition to survive in the wild, so we decided it would need to be checked by a vet before being released. The RSPCA were informed of the situation and we liaised with them to find a local vet. In the meantime the bird was transported to Regent’s Park, where it remained in the care of our experienced Schedule 1 license holder, wildlife officer Dave Johnson.
The Peregrine prior to being caught for release © Tony Duckett
The RSPCA found a vet and the bird was taken in for a thorough assessment. It was deemed fit for release and returned to Dave Johnson, who took it to a suitable location before releasing it.
We sincerely thank Madeleine, for reporting the bird to us and her assistance in its rescue, and the Royal Veterinary College, London.
December 28th, 2012
Better late than never, here’s a recap of the 2012 season and a brief look ahead to 2013.
2012 was the worst breeding season on record for many nesting birds in the UK. Peregrines may not have been affected as badly as more insectivorous species, but some nest sites that would probably have produced young failed because of the poor weather. Sites on man-made structures without sufficient shelter or drainage were worst affected. One such case was documented in harrowing detail on the webcam showing the Peregrines nesting on the roof of Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building (BBC News – Webcam turned off as peregrine falcon chicks die in Nottingham).
A handful of sites in London failed due to the weather.1 A few other sites failed due to the unsuitability of the structure (in some cases simply a lack of substrate), and a couple due to human disturbance. The season was not without successes though. A reasonable number of sites fledged young, with a number of pairs fledging three or more juveniles (including the Fulham and Barnes and Parliament pairs) and what we believe to be the first brood of five young in the London area (Sutton Peregrines).
The family at Charing Cross Hospital were the internet stars of the year, having their life on the nest ledge captured by HD webcams installed by Simon King and closely monitored by Nathalie Mahieu. Sutton’s ‘famous five’ were all the more remarkable given that they make their scrape in shingle on the roof on an office block without a roof over their heads. These were among the last pairs to fledge young, which meant the chicks had hatched after the worst of the season’s heavy rainfall. Special mention must be given to the band of volunteers at Sutton, their organizer Rob Dolton, and the building managers at Quadrant House, who between them performed several successful rescue attempts and without whom at least one or two of those birds would have been lost.
The Tate Modern pair continued their record of consecutive successful breeding attempts, fledging a single juvenile male. High winds were an issue during fledging at this and other sites, with chicks finding themselves swept off the nest ledge a day or two early. The adults demonstrated their command of flight navigating strong winds to bring food down to the juvenile tiercel when he struggled to find a good perch on his first blustery days on the wing. While monitoring this nest site we found a Nightjar which had been blown off a ledge the resident birds use to cache their food–the first instance of this species on record for an urban Peregrine site2 and a most surprising discovery in the centre of a big city.
As Dave Morrison has already pointed out on his Parliament Diary, several of the birds that fledged this season were fitted with colour rings. If you should see an immature or adult Peregrine sporting an orange colour ring in or near London please contact us. We’re also keen to hear about any Peregrine activity you observe on buildings in London from January/February onwards. While we may not be able to install nest boxes at every site that attracts Peregrines, it is important to monitor Peregrine activity especially nesting attempts.
We’re hopeful for another successful breeding season in 2013, ideally with a bit less rain and good fledging conditions. Will the Sutton birds repeat their brood of five? Will the Tate birds succeed another year? Watch this space.
1. Data collected by Dave Morrison.
2. Communication with Ed Drewitt.
July 17th, 2011
The tiercel at Sutton with a freshly caught Swift © Phil Wallace
The breeding season is winding down. This year’s fledglings are now on the wing, learning the essential skills they’ll need to survive to independence. We have yet to collate the results for the greater London area, but we’re pleased to report on a successful season for some of our better known pairs.
The Tate pair fledged two young. From this weekend you have the opportunity to see the birds through telescopes at the RSPB viewing point.
The Parliament peregrines (as seen on the RSPB/BT webcam and Springwatch) bred again, fledging three young. The family can now be seen around Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
A pair in Fulham and Barnes fledged three young—the first successful attempt at the site—though not without a bit of drama. You can read a full account of events on the Fulham and Barnes Peregrines Facebook page set up by Nathalie Mahieu.
In Sutton a pair bred again on an office block by the train station, fledging four young. This site was monitored by local volunteers organized by Rob Dolton and advised by the LPP. Sutton Peregrines are also on Facebook.
Thanks to everyone who gave up their time to help the birds this year.
June 11th, 2011
One or two of London’s Peregrine chicks have fledged already. One, we were informed by Dave Morrison, sadly met with an unfortunate end. Most of the other chicks will be fledging any day now, weather permitting.
The Tate and Parliament pairs both have young ready to fledge. To the South, volunteers will be on hand to monitor the fledging of the four chicks in Sutton. Phil Wallace has posted video and photographs of the chicks and adult birds on his blog: Sutton peregrines nearly ready to fledge!
Speaking of the weather, Nathalie has an interesting blog post describing the aquatic adventures of the chicks in Fulham and Barnes.
Update: The Sutton Peregrines now have their own Facebook page.
April 19th, 2011
Easter is upon us and many of our Peregrines are busy incubating their eggs.
The Parliament birds have returned to the ledge on a nearby building where they raised four chicks last year (not the BT Tower, as reported elsewhere). Earlier this year the nesting tray we installed with help from the RSPB and BT was cleaned out and topped up in preparation for another season. The webcam is up and running and you can read updates about the pair on Dave Morrison’s Parliament Diary.
Misty is extending her record of successive breeding in central London. Meanwhile Rob Dolton is organizing volunteers to help monitor this year’s fledglings in Sutton.
Last but not least, we’re pleased to report that the pair which are regular visitors to WWT London have laid three eggs (and counting) which they should soon begin incubating, thanks largely to the efforts of Dave Morrison and Nathalie Mahieu. Nathalie has set up a blog where you can follow their story: Fulham & Barnes Peregrines.