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Mal Taylor
Saturday 4th October 2003, 16:17
I live in South West Lancashire, and consider myself fortunate to be able to see Peregrines on a regular basis hunting on the local mosslands. I have seen Peregrines before in this area, usually in the winter months, but they are now a regular and year round tick for local birders. What to me seems unusual is the habitat they have now been able to exploit in this region. The mosslands are as flat as a pancake, and devoid of trees apart from the Pheasant release woods. They are not what I would previously have considered to be ideal Peregrine territory. Despite this there are now several pairs breeding in the Merseyside area using urban structures for their nest sites. Urban birds are also much more tolerant of man and offer birders a better chance of a good and close up view. This year I watched a pair raise a brood of 4 young to fledgling from their nest in the middle of a housing / industrial estate, so obviously prey is not too difficult to come by. I have also witnessed Peregrines hunting the fields of my local patch on quite a few occassions during the last twelve months. A pair of juveniles, one male and one female have been present all year. These birds use a completely different method to hunt than I have seen before with Peregrines. Typically Peregrines will always use the advantage of height to surprise and out manouvre their prey, but these local birds very often 'still hunt' from the electricity pylons that span the landscape. I have seen birds in the Lake District 'still hunt' from high crags dropping off to stoop on their prey below, but a pylon does not off the same height advantage. Instead these birds, use the pylon only as a perch from which to spot prey and then drop from them to fly very close to the ground until they approach their prey. The quarry is simply grabbed in mid air as it attempts to evade capture. This 'cousing' style of hunting is more like the method adopted by Sparrowhawks or Merlins. The prey selected varies from Wood and Feral Pigeon upto a full grown Mallard which was the last prey that saw taken. There are hundreds of Pheasant in this area as most of the land is used by shoots, but I have seen only one attempt at them made by a juvenile Peregrine, which opted out of the tussle and looked very non-plussed as it landed alongside it. These birds do not have the benefit of the great thump that a stooping Peregrine usually inflicts on its prey. The female Mallard that was recently taken was simply plucked from the air only a couple of feet from the ground after the Peregrine had approached it from a distance of several hundred yards. In Derek Ratcliffes superb monograph on the Peregrine he makes no mention of this style of hunting, despite devoting a whole chapter to it. I would imagine that the Peregrines of mountain and moorland adopt this method as and when the opportunity arises, but these local birds use this style of hunting almost exclusively. Has anyone else seen Peregrines exploiting similar terrain in this way, as I would be interested to know. South West Lasncashire is fortunate to be close to the Peregrine strongholds of the Lakes and North Wales, so it may be that these 'local' regions have reached saturation point and Peregrines have to adapt, or move on. I would like to hear other birders views on the subject.

Best Regards


Mal Taylor

Michael Frankis
Saturday 4th October 2003, 16:53
Hi Mal,

First, welcome to BirdForum!

I've not come across this myself, but I guess it does explain why wintering Peregrines are regularly seen perching on pylons at a site north of Newcastle. There, they are probably mostly going for Woodpigeons which are abundant on that estate. I'll have to look out for this next time I get up there.

Equally, Peregrines wintering on the Holy Island mudflats often use low stones and posts less than a foot high as lookout posts. I don't know if they ever make direct hunting sallies from these or not, the way Merlins do, but I haven't seen them do so.

Michael

nirofo
Saturday 4th October 2003, 21:13
Hi Mal

Interesting that the Peregrines in your area are using the lowland areas for hunting, I live in the north of scotland where this has been happening probably for centuries!! After the breeding season most species of birds come down from the high ground and moorlands to areas of easier feeding, foreshores, pasture etc. This also pleases the Raptors as it makes for easier hunting for them as well. Birds like the Peregrine are oppotunists and will take their prey by the easiest methods available, if this means waiting for an unsuspecting Pigeon to fly by it's energy saving perch on a pylon then they will use this method by preference, waiting on high in the sky uses energy which means they will have to hunt harder to sustain themselves.

nirofo.

logos
Saturday 4th October 2003, 21:36
Some of the Peregrines wintering in Britain ought to be of the tundra race calidus which, due to the natural characteristics of its breeding areas, are well used to perching on the ground and scanning for likely prey from there. Whether such birds will adapt to use pylons and other large structures as perches or whether such perches are mainly used by British bred birds is a mystery to me but taking notes on the plumage features of birds in different contexts might give a clue.

Do British bred birds (subspecies peregrinus) ever choose ground perches when more elevated options exist and what proportion of the birds wintering in low lying areas are British breeders anyway?

Spud

Michael Frankis
Saturday 4th October 2003, 21:50
Hi Spud,

Can't speak for the southeast or Mal's Lancs, but in Northumberland, there's only one ringing recovery from Finland, but many ringing recoveries of Northumbrian & southern Scottish bred birds wintering on the Northumbrian coast (a bit stranger is the Northumbrian-ringed nestling that turned up in the Canary Islands - maybe more of ours migrate than we think!).

Also both adults and juvs turn up on the Holy Island mudflats and perch on low stones etc (despite the option of tall wood marker poles) from late July, I guess much too early for continental immigrants.

Michael

logos
Saturday 4th October 2003, 22:18
Thanks for that snippet Michael.

Birds of the race peregrinator have previously been recorded on the Atlantic Islands so are certainly less sedentary than we might expect.

I wonder if one reason for so few ringing recoveries of calidus is as much to do with the fact that very few are ringed as anything else? These birds are real long-distance migrants, even reaching South Africa, and must presumably occur here at least as passage migrants I'd have thought, though I'm sure you're right that July is too early for such birds.

Spud

Michael Frankis
Saturday 4th October 2003, 22:40
Hi Spud,

If Perrys use the same migration routes as other Arctic species that winter south to Africa (e.g. many waders), I'd guess some will pass through, but except for perhaps Norfolk to Kent, only a tiny % of the total population, as most of Britain is well off the great circle route **. A great circle route from either the north coast of Norway, or the Taimyr Peninsula, to the extreme west of Africa (Mauretania to Senegal), just about clips the far southeast corner of England, but is more realistically via Holland/Belgium. Birds aiming for South Africa won't come near us at all, their route is through east Europe.

I'd agree about the lack of ringed birds up there!

** Not Peregrines, but perhaps a useful comparison is that of the nearly half-million Curlew Sandpipers that winter in West Africa, only about 0.2% pass through Britain (inc. the southeast!)

Michael

logos
Saturday 4th October 2003, 22:57
While I agree with much of what you say Michael I'm sure you realise that I only used the example of South Africa to indicate the distances some of these birds travel. Many wintering birds in Iberia could also be calidus as could an unknown proportion of the birds wintering in Britain. The trouble is that nobody seems to try to identify them.

Sorry If we seem to have moved away from the original intention of your thread somewhat Mal but I think it is worth considering how birds of different geographical origins might behave differently here.

Spud

Mal Taylor
Sunday 5th October 2003, 10:06
Spud

Thanks for your reply. I fear that trying to identify the origin of race of the Peregrines I have been watching this year in South West Lancashire is a little beyond my skills in the field.
We have always had wintering Peregrines using the coasts and mosslands to hunt, but for birds to actually take up residence in what is basically open arable farmland several miles from the coast is what strikes me as unusual. The birds also use the pylons to roost. Does this style of 'still hunting' open up even more areas for Peregrines to exploit and further extend range and population?

Mal Taylor
Sunday 5th October 2003, 18:53
Hi Spar

Read the last thread and was interested in the reason for urban nesting and hacking which I was unaware of. Shame about permission from the Power Companies regarding nest trays on pylons as this would definately add to the spread.

Mal

saluki
Monday 6th October 2003, 15:56
Mal

I'd agree with Spar, peregrines will change their hunting methods to suit the terrain. I watched two peregrines in your area this weekend (a juv. female at Marshside and a tiercel near Ormskirk) and both hunted in a different manner. The first came low along a ditch, flushing wigeon and attempting to catch one as they rose (it didn't succeed), the second came over high then put in a shallow stoop at . . . well, he disappeared behind trees, scattering gulls, lapwings and golden plover, so I don't really know what he was stooping at. I also witnessed a female merlin utilizing a plough in the middle of a field (behind a big supermarket - Asda's I think - near Formby) as a launch to attack meadow pipits that were hunkered down in the stubble. Twice she tried, and failed both times.

Although peregrines aren't in the same class as gyrs when it comes to flying prey down in level flight, they can do it by surprising their prey and catching it before it has chance to get any speed up. I don't think it's new behaviour your watching Mal, just birds adapting to different surroundings. BTW peregrines will hover on occasions, particularly when considering attempting to take prey it has already grounded, and still-hunt in the manner of a spar or a buzzard, simply dropping on prey from a vantage point - even worms!

saluki

Michael Frankis
Monday 6th October 2003, 16:55
even worms!

Actually, we shouldn't slate worms as a food source for raptors - birds and mammals are about 40% digestible protein, worms are between 70-80% digestible protein, and what's more, they are very easy to get in wet weather, when other larger prey often isn't. It is our human squeamishness that makes us think poorly of worms as food.

Much the same can be said about insects, in terms of quality as a food resource, again about 70% digestible protein - which is why so many seemingly improbable birds will hawk for swarming ants when they are around.

Michael

Mal Taylor
Monday 6th October 2003, 17:59
Saluki

Get off my patch!
Only kidding. I'd agree with your comments about flying down prey in level flights after this type of low level approach, as it rarely results in success from the flights that I witnessed. I am aware that the general conception is that Peregrines are thought to be much more successful than they actually are, but I did a watch at a nestsite in the Lake District a number of years ago and the Tiercel made a kill in about 50 percent of the attempts made. Some were from a 'waiting on' position, but the majority were from a sitting position at the top of a crag.
Thanks for your comments.

p.s. It's a Tesco's.

tooke
Saturday 6th December 2003, 17:25
I live in South West Lancashire, and consider myself fortunate to be able to see Peregrines on a regular basis hunting on the local mosslands. I have seen Peregrines before in this area, usually in the winter months, but they are now a regular and year round tick for local birders. What to me seems unusual is the habitat they have now been able to exploit in this region. The mosslands are as flat as a pancake, and devoid of trees apart from the Pheasant release woods. They are not what I would previously have considered to be ideal Peregrine territory. Despite this there are now several pairs breeding in the Merseyside area using urban structures for their nest sites. Urban birds are also much more tolerant of man and offer birders a better chance of a good and close up view. This year I watched a pair raise a brood of 4 young to fledgling from their nest in the middle of a housing / industrial estate, so obviously prey is not too difficult to come by. I have also witnessed Peregrines hunting the fields of my local patch on quite a few occassions during the last twelve months. A pair of juveniles, one male and one female have been present all year. These birds use a completely different method to hunt than I have seen before with Peregrines. Typically Peregrines will always use the advantage of height to surprise and out manouvre their prey, but these local birds very often 'still hunt' from the electricity pylons that span the landscape. I have seen birds in the Lake District 'still hunt' from high crags dropping off to stoop on their prey below, but a pylon does not off the same height advantage. Instead these birds, use the pylon only as a perch from which to spot prey and then drop from them to fly very close to the ground until they approach their prey. The quarry is simply grabbed in mid air as it attempts to evade capture. This 'cousing' style of hunting is more like the method adopted by Sparrowhawks or Merlins. The prey selected varies from Wood and Feral Pigeon upto a full grown Mallard which was the last prey that saw taken. There are hundreds of Pheasant in this area as most of the land is used by shoots, but I have seen only one attempt at them made by a juvenile Peregrine, which opted out of the tussle and looked very non-plussed as it landed alongside it. These birds do not have the benefit of the great thump that a stooping Peregrine usually inflicts on its prey. The female Mallard that was recently taken was simply plucked from the air only a couple of feet from the ground after the Peregrine had approached it from a distance of several hundred yards. In Derek Ratcliffes superb monograph on the Peregrine he makes no mention of this style of hunting, despite devoting a whole chapter to it. I would imagine that the Peregrines of mountain and moorland adopt this method as and when the opportunity arises, but these local birds use this style of hunting almost exclusively. Has anyone else seen Peregrines exploiting similar terrain in this way, as I would be interested to know. South West Lasncashire is fortunate to be close to the Peregrine strongholds of the Lakes and North Wales, so it may be that these 'local' regions have reached saturation point and Peregrines have to adapt, or move on. I would like to hear other birders views on the subject.




Mal Taylor

dear mr taylor

are you sure your not confusing the peregrine with the common buzzard

Andrew Rowlands
Saturday 6th December 2003, 21:36
dear mr taylor

are you sure your not confusing the peregrine with the common buzzard

Welcome to Birdforum Tooke,

No, I don't think he is getting them confused.

I see similarities with some of the Peregrine habits here in Wales (which is not as flat as the mosslands).

Andy.

Joern Lehmhus
Monday 8th December 2003, 11:33
Hi all,
At the wadden sea coasts in northern Germany peregrines often fly very low above the ground when trying to approach waders, wigeon or teal. So far in that area all successfull hunts i saw were with that low-flying technique, never saw them succeed with their said-to-be-classic hunting technique there. This applies to the resident birds breeding on sandbanks or Signs for the ship traffic, as well as for wintering birds.
Especially when the wheather is bad and the mud flats are apperaring dark bluish grey in that light it is often difficult to spot the low-flying peregrine , whereas a high -flying individual is clearly visible against the sky.

So I d say peregrines use as variable hunting techniques as other birds of prey, adapted to the surrounding...

(By the way, low-flying peregrines can greatly resemble Merlins that also winter there- if you dont see colour or size clearly this can be tricky)

Gerry Hooper
Monday 8th December 2003, 12:25
Good point Joern,Bad weather and poor light will prevent the Peregrines from using their stoop so other techniques are used.
The pylons at the local marshes often have Falcons on them and they fly low and slow over the ditches looking for prey in the way Mal describes.

Mal Taylor
Wednesday 10th December 2003, 16:16
[QUOTE=Joern Lehmhus]Hi all,
At the wadden sea coasts in northern Germany peregrines often fly very low above the ground when trying to approach waders, wigeon or teal. So far in that area all successfull hunts i saw were with that low-flying technique, never saw them succeed with their said-to-be-classic hunting technique there. This applies to the resident birds breeding on sandbanks or Signs for the ship traffic, as well as for wintering birds.
Especially when the wheather is bad and the mud flats are apperaring dark bluish grey in that light it is often difficult to spot the low-flying peregrine , whereas a high -flying individual is clearly visible against the sky.

Hi Joern

For Peregrines to approach their prey below the skyline in flat terrain makes perfect sense. I have seen most of my Peregrines in the mountainous regions of the Lake District of North West England, and the classic Peregrine stoop used by these birds is to me one of the highlights of the birding world. I would imagine that the birds I currently watch in the flat mosslands of Lancashire are an 'overspill' from the 'saturated' areas of Lakeland and North Wales, although I could give you no definate proof to back up my assumption.It is fascinating that these birds have so rapidly adapted to adjust to a completely different landscape. A hunting Peregrine in the middle of summer over flat arable farmland, several miles from the coast is not something I would have ever expected to see on a regular basis.

With Peregrines using urban and industrial sites for breeding in many parts of the country where will this expansion end, and what will the next 'Breeding Birds Atlas for Great Britain' look like?

Joe North
Wednesday 11th February 2004, 20:13
Hi Mal, I have watched several peregrines hunting here in Somerset (bred from RN escapees at Yeovilton) and without exception they have adopted the low level technique, using 'chance' or surprise very effectively. A pair breed on a local farm, in a box on a pole, and are almost domesticated in their behaviour. Similarly, all peregrines I have noted in the Frome/Midsomer Norton area (quarry nesters) are low level hunters. It is rare to see one at anything much above a hundred feet. I suspect it is because there is so much cover, which seems to nullify high level attacks. Prey are in it in short order. NB. I do know what peregrines look like, and there is no confusion with Kestrels or other birds of prey.

Ranger James
Thursday 12th February 2004, 10:32
p.s. It's a Tesco's.


Mal, Could you provide a bit more info about this tescos? I am coming up to Ormskirk at the weekend to look around wedding venues with my fiancÚ - I could do with the chance to escape for a bit of merlin watching, and get to see some other little blighter getting caught!

James

Jane Turner
Thursday 12th February 2004, 11:50
I am also lucky enough to see Peregrines hunting on an almost daily basis. The breedng pair in Birkenhead routinely hunt over my house as far as I can tell, and some of the N Wales pairs make an appearance. I see three main hunting strategies.

1. The classic Peregrine stoop.. though of couse unless you are very obserant you only observe the last second or two of the hunt. This technique is used most often against pigeons.

2. Merlin style chasing of waders, usually by young birds and with very limited success. Always when I have a good calidrid on the deck too!

3. Sparrowhawk style ambush. The male of the local pair uses my garden as an attack route at high tide. Its about 20ft from the gate to the front of the high tide wader roost and he goes through about 2cm off the ground at enormous speed. He got a Knot 5 times out of 5 last autumn.

jayhunter
Thursday 12th February 2004, 12:33
Just as an observation I would have thought it was quite difficult to mistake a Peregrine for any type of Buzzard.

Mal Taylor
Thursday 12th February 2004, 14:46
Mal, Could you provide a bit more info about this tescos? I am coming up to Ormskirk at the weekend to look around wedding venues with my fiancÚ - I could do with the chance to escape for a bit of merlin watching, and get to see some other little blighter getting caught!

James

James

Anywhere along the B5195 between Lydiate and Formby can be good. You could also try Marshside at Southport, which is quite good at the moment.

Mal

Mal Taylor
Thursday 12th February 2004, 15:04
I am also lucky enough to see Peregrines hunting on an almost daily basis. The breedng pair in Birkenhead routinely hunt over my house as far as I can tell, and some of the N Wales pairs make an appearance. I see three main hunting strategies.

1. The classic Peregrine stoop.. though of couse unless you are very obserant you only observe the last second or two of the hunt. This technique is used most often against pigeons.

2. Merlin style chasing of waders, usually by young birds and with very limited success. Always when I have a good calidrid on the deck too!

3. Sparrowhawk style ambush. The male of the local pair uses my garden as an attack route at high tide. Its about 20ft from the gate to the front of the high tide wader roost and he goes through about 2cm off the ground at enormous speed. He got a Knot 5 times out of 5 last autumn.


Jane

On the mosslands It's usually style No 3 that I see, but also No 2 to a lesser degree. The still hunting start from the pylon from which to locate prey doesn't really allow for No 1 to be used that often. How did the Birkenhead pair do last year? I did see a displaying pair of Peregrines right in the City Centre of Liverpool (above the Pig and Whistle if you know it?) last year which could have been the Birkenhead pair, or even the Liverpool pair. I understand the established Liverpool pair failed last year, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are others that I don't know about.

Mal

esmondb
Monday 22nd March 2004, 14:57
For Peregrines to approach their prey below the skyline in flat terrain makes perfect sense. I have seen most of my Peregrines in the mountainous regions of the Lake District of North West England, and the classic Peregrine stoop used by these birds is to me one of the highlights of the birding world. I would imagine that the birds I currently watch in the flat mosslands of Lancashire are an 'overspill' from the 'saturated' areas of Lakeland and North Wales, although I could give you no definate proof to back up my assumption.It is fascinating that these birds have so rapidly adapted to adjust to a completely different landscape. A hunting Peregrine in the middle of summer over flat arable farmland, several miles from the coast is not something I would have ever expected to see on a regular basis.

With Peregrines using urban and industrial sites for breeding in many parts of the country where will this expansion end, and what will the next 'Breeding Birds Atlas for Great Britain' look like?

My own feeling is that they are just re-colonising areas and not adjusting to an 'alien' landscape.
Peregrines subsisting on coastal waders & wildfowl and seabirds may have largely escaped the ravages of pesticides and bred successfully over the years.
Whereas their farmland cousins may not have fared so well, hence less sightings.
I'd expect to see behaviour such as ground nesting and pursuit hunting reported much more commonly in the future if this is the case.

spanishalex
Friday 16th April 2004, 10:44
The Barbary Falcon (breeding on all of the Canary Islands and associated islets) is considered by some to be a subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. The Canarian population of Barbary Falcon is represented by race F. Pelegrinus pelegrinus (North Africa to Iran), although recent studies on Fuerteventura show that both Barbary and Peregrine Falcons are present on the island, with the latter perhaps escaped birds from private collections. Peregrine Falcons are recorded as winter migrants to the islands and the similar Lanner Falco Biarmicus has also been seen. The Cape Verde peregrine Falco peregrinus madens is down a few dozen pairs.

mrpjdavis
Sunday 30th October 2005, 20:51
At Slimbridge, the wintering peregrines sit on the saltings or fenceposts and seem to launch relatively low level sorties. I suspect these adult birds are very skilled at spotting prey individuals that are in poor condition. On two occasions, I have seen a peregrine sitting around for over an hour, then just get up, fly across the estuary, catch a bird and come back. I've never been quick enough to see the actual kill, but they are achieved very quickly.
Pete

Seaside
Monday 31st October 2005, 08:26
Hi Mal,
In Blackpool Peregrines nested on a town centre church. They frequently 'dropped' and took pigeons from the paved area. Blackpool Tower has been used as a perch with a peregrine seen landing at 380' level, just below first passenger observation level. Method of hunting at this height unknown but maintenance workers have found a noticable amount of remains in that area. During past six months I've observed a pair of peregrines on a local pylon mainly 'loafing' and preening, but single sorties have been launched and prey taken. What I found interesting was they perch on the lowest but biggest cross section and from this position drop to attack low passing or ground feeding birds. I have never seen them use the full pylon height to launch a sortie.
Cheers Al