Now for the peregrines…

Following on from my day with the ospreys yesterday, this morning I got up at 5:00am to head out for my first shift watching over another bird of prey nest – one belonging to a pair of peregrine falcons.

Like osprey nests, those of peregrines are targeted by thieves but whilst the eggs of both are prized by collectors, only the chicks of peregrines are of interest to those of bad intent as ospreys cannot be used for falconry. Both types of nest are also prone to disturbance, therefore, there is a need to help avoid unintentional impacts on these nests. There is a further threat to nesting raptors; that from people who see birds of prey as threats to their sports. Ospreys have been targeted by fishermen who believe they take too many of their sporting prizes whilst pigeon racers have been known to destroy peregrine nests as these birds of prey do have a taste for pigeons; I’ve seen this first hand on Ramsey Island where the local peregrines (one of them pictured below) target the wild relatives of racing pigeons – rock doves.

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It was a bitterly cold morning as I left home, having to defrost the car was unexpected – hopefully I didn’t disturb the neighbours with my scraping. Arriving at the site, the light was just starting to rise and I could just make out the area of the nest. It was even colder there, out in the countryside and I was glad for all the layers I had put on but I was even more glad for the blankets left at the site.

The dawn chorus built up slowly, starting with the song thrush, robin and blackbird. It wasn’t long before others joined in, either singing or calling; dunnock, woodpigeon, nuthatch, house sparrow and collared dove. Above all the other calls, those of the jackdaws and ravens came from high up near the nest and it wasn’t long before the distinctive scream of the peregrine rang out as one of the pair took to the sky for the first time in the day. Eventually a woodpecker also joined in, knocking out its drumming from somewhere within the woodland.

The coldness of the shift lasted until the end, even when the sun had risen, but I was rewarded by the scene of the lovely misty early morning light with low cloud hanging still over the fields.

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Hopefully, this will have been the first of many shifts to come, but I also hope that others won’t be quite as cold as the one this morning!

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