Peregrine Falcons are fantastic birds and we are lucky in this county to be able to see them sometimes at close quarters.
Cheltenham and Gloucester both have pairs right in the city and they can be seen easily. Those birds are used to disturbance because life just goes on around them; I have also been lucky enough to see a pair of Peregrines in a recycling centre with thousands of people going within maybe 50 metres of the birds and them not caring at all! But those birds have chosen to nest there, so they know its a busy place.
Some of our Peregrines in Gloucestershire nest in disused quarries which might only have relatively few people visiting, maybe a hundred people over a year and certainly not tens of thousands. They have not been exposed to disturbance and so are more sensitive. We all want people to enjoy these birds and also photograph them if they have the opportunity but there are times when it can really put the young birds at risk or affect the success of a nest.
Early on in the year if the birds are disturbed constantly they just won’t nest there, and once the birds make what is called a scrape (the pair will try to craft a small bowl in the ground to allow for the nest to nestle there) they are protected by law.
The law that protects Peregrines is called the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which actually covers all nesting birds but certain other birds are afforded more protection and this list is called Schedule One. The birds are protected under law until they have fully fledged and not dependent on the nest.
Last year several individuals were given Conditional Discharges after admitting disturbance of Peregrines at a site in Gloucestershire.
This year an appeal is going to go out shortly to identify someone potentially disturbing another Peregrine site. We have also had reports of photographers taking pictures of females sat on their nest, very young chicks and adults flying around the photographer’s head. All these would be classed as disturbance in law, but more importantly, you are risking the success of the parents raising their young.
We certainly don’t want to discourage people from watching these birds especially if they are looking out for new sites and report their sightings to us. Photos of colour rings are very useful, and you can act as and as well our eyes and ears’ looking out for people that may be wanting to harm the birds. But we would like you to think carefully before visiting sites at sensitive times, not getting too close and especially being careful with birds that are not used to the daily hustle and bustle of a city, certainly not to disturb them whilst sitting on eggs or with young that have not yet fledged. Thank you!
If you do see anything suspicious involving wild birds of prey in Gloucestershire, please report it to our telephone hotline 07960 047016 and to the police – see our post of May 5th.
Our spring 2017 newsletter has been sent out to subscribers. In this issue we have an update on wildlife crime in the county, information on sightings and surveys, a guest article about Ravens this breeding season and information about our exciting Goshawk colour-ringing project. You can download a copy here and previous issues can be downloaded from our documents page.
As a monitoring group from time to time we, unfortunately, find ourselves dealing with persecution & disturbance of our birds of prey.
As you may well know, the GRMG has a very close working relationship with Gloucestershire Police, the RSPB investigations team & Natural England. We are very pleased we have established such good relationships with these organisations as it means we can better safeguard birds of prey in Gloucestershire.
Recent incidents of crime/persecution have been emailed into us, and we are incredibly grateful for these emails as they have allowed us to secure vital evidence needed. However, in a bid to make it easier and quicker for people to report a crime to us we have acquired our very own GRMG mobile phone!
If you are in the county & you see a dead raptor (including Owl & Raven) you can now contact us on the following number – 07960 047016.
If you feel that the circumstances are suspicious you can still contact us however we would advise you call 101 asking for a WCO (Wildlife Crime Officer) or RECLO (Rural & Environmental Crime Liaison Officer).
Remember, if you feel that the circumstances are suspicious please do not touch a carcass & take photographs for evidence, keeping the scene as you found it.
We are very grateful to Ben & the team at EE Monmouth for their donation of a topped up SIM card & highly recommend their service.
Dave Pearce has extended his 5 year summary of the Peregrines at Christ Church to include the last two years i.e it now covers 7 years. It also includes a few extra observations, details of ring letters and egg laying/hatching dates and additional prey items e.g. Sandwich Tern! You can download the document here, or from our documents page.
One of our supporters, Claire Feehily, has sent us her review of the film ‘The Eagle Huntress’…
A trailer of the film can be seen here…
This documentary film takes us to Mongolia’s Altai Mountains in the company of thirteen-year-old Aisholpan and her father. Their nomadic Kazakh community maintains the thousand-year-old tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles.
In a stunning opening sequence a lone rider reaches a high peak, then lowers an adult bird down alongside the lamb that has been slaughtered to honour the Eagle and its release back into the wild.
And so, the place of the birds and of these traditional hunting skills and rituals is very simply established for us.
The film follows Aisholpan, her instinctive connection to the birds, and her determination to be confirmed as a Master Hunter. We are allowed a rare and privileged glimpse of life in this extraordinary place.
The film is simply beautiful.
The landscape, the observation of the birds, the training sequences, the connection between father and daughter, and, above all, between Aisholpan and Eagle… it leaves some unforgettable images.
See it wherever and however you can!
Many will remember that this year GRMG carried out a Little Owl survey where we visited as many of the 100+ sites that were identified during surveys in 2008-11, to see if those sites still held Little Owls. Further information can be found in our recent summer update. Many thanks to Kevin Widgery for sending us this photo he took whilst contributing to this survey.
Being a county raptor monitoring group, we don’t normally post news from further afield, but we thought this might be of interest.
St. Michael and All Angels in Exeter was the first church in the UK to have breeding peregrines following their recovery from a population crash, with successful nesting occurring every year since 1997. Over the last twenty years, the adult peregrines, the number of fledged young, prey selection, behaviour and hunting, plus the peregrines interaction with other species in the vicinity has been closely monitored by individuals and via the internet. This history has been documented in a small softback book which is now available to purchase. If you’d like a copy, an order form can be found in the photo that accompanies this article.
Download the full size version here.