The Peregrines of St Mary's

Last year we were able to see a breeding pair produce four young, but as you may know, the bird flu epidemic claimed all four eyases and the male bird. As of Jan 2nd, the UK has been, for the first time in many years, declared free of bird flu. The current risk to wild birds is still classed as medium, and with migratory birds returning, there will no doubt be more cases.

This year we have been busy in the scrape box. We've recommissioned and repositioned the old camera, added two shiny new ones, upgraded the streaming equipment and cleaned the box out. The good news is that after we'd had resealed the box for the final time, there was a bird in there before we'd reached the bottom of the ladder! You can view the three feeds below.

We think the new bird is a young male checking out nesting sites in the area. Unfortunately he's not ringed, so we can't find out where he came from. Hopefully he finds a mate, and she decides St Mary's is the nicest pad in town. Let us know if you've seen anything, and please do share any photos.

Highlights from last year:

Egg 4!

The 4th egg arrived on Sunday morning, and incubation started the day before. This means the chicks, called eyases, should be expected in the last week of April.

Egg 3!

Just before midnight egg 3 arrived, spotted by Smiffsta Sista on the Youtube chat. We're watching closely for incubation starting, which should give us a final egg count.

Chick #1!

Sometime between 4-5am on Saturday morning, the first chick arrived. Mum didn't get much sleep overnight, Dad arrives with breakfast. Expecting a busy weekend!

Egg 2!

After about 7 hours of expectation egg 2 arrives, 55hrs after the first. Peregrines usually lay a clutch of 3-4 in total, 2-3 days apart.

The Peregrine is a large, powerful falcon and the worlds' fastest animal. They are highly adaptable birds and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including coastal cliffs, upland moors, and urban areas. Peregrine Falcons are known for their incredible agility and speed, reaching in excess of 200mph in a dive, which makes them very effective hunters.

They feed on a variety of prey, including pigeons, ducks, and other birds, which they capture in mid-air. In recent years, the Peregrine Falcon population in the UK has experienced a remarkable recovery, following a period of decline in the 20th century due to pesticide use. Today, there are around 1,400 breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons in the UK, and they are a common sight in many areas. The species is protected by law in the UK, and efforts are being made to maintain and enhance their habitat, which includes providing nesting sites on buildings and other man-made structures. This has contributed to the continued success of the Peregrine Falcon population in the UK, and they are now considered to be one of the country's most iconic bird species. However, they are still persecuted - birds are illegally killed to prevent predation on game birds and racing pigeons.
They also have eggs and chicks taken for collections and falconry. Peregrines are a Schedule 1 listed species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Peregrine falcons breed from late February to mid-April, and return to the same nesting site year after year. They produce one or two broods a year.
Courtship - Jan-Feb-early March
Egg-laying - mid March-early April
Hatching - late April-early May
Fledging - early June

During the camera installation process RSPB and Natural England were consulted to ensure that the law concerning protected birds was followed.  No licences were needed, since the camera was installed "out of season" and the birds were not disturbed in any way.