urban wildlife, raptors, photography

Urban Peregrines

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I arrived back in the UK just in time for a weekend of glorious sunshine, so I decided to go and see how my local city-centre peregrines were doing. Just like the goshawks, activity is hotting up for them at this time of year, with lots of aerial display and acrobatics from the male, mutual displays of courtship and plenty of mating in the run-up to laying their first egg of the year. This Winter has been much milder than last year's and things seem to be a bit more advanced - in fact, Charlie of the famous Fulham and Barnes Peregrines was caught on camera just last night laying her first egg of the season. London peregrines are generally a bit earlier than most, but this is early even for them.. 5 days earlier than last year!

On Saturday, I headed down to Bristol's Floating Harbour to look out for them, but instead, found a bit of a turf war going on between a pair of swans and an intruding male who had his eye on their territory. The intruder was pretty confident, and secured himself an initial victory by quickly attacking the resident male, before he had a chance to ready himself for battle. Pride damaged, the resident pair made a quick getaway, but it wasn't long before the male was back - fully "busking" and ready to reestablish his dominance. What happened next was one of the most epic editions of "swan-wars" I have ever seen..

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After all the excitement on Saturday (the resident cob victorious, but the peregrines hardly getting a look in), I decided to set my alarm for dawn on Sunday, as the forecast was looking good and mornings are always best for nice light and peregrine action. I quickly found them and luckily, they were on form and were putting on a great show.

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The male was really active, flying around in front of the buildings, chasing after gulls and generally showing off.

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The female must have been impressed as it wasn't long before they were copulating..

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I'm not entirely sure where they will nest this year. They moved their scrape last year at the last minute, just when I was expecting them to lay on their usual nesting ledge, and they had their most successful year so far - successfully fledging 3 chicks.

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I only managed a couple of pictures of the female as she took off to chase a pigeon, but she's looking hefty, so there might be an egg developing in there already. I'll be following this pair's story throughout the breeding season and will update the blog as often as possible :)