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Peregrine activity

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Old Sunday 12th December 2010, 19:50   #1
King Edward
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Peregrine activity

Does anyone have any information about the times of day Peregrines tend to be most active? Hunting especially - does this generally take place at any time, or more often during certain parts of the day? Any personal observations would be great, or references to any published information.
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Old Sunday 12th December 2010, 21:00   #2
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Due to work patterns, 1 early to 4 lates, most of my sightings are from 1pm-dusk and they tend to appear most inactive mid-afternoon. Tend to get most flybys at about an hour and half before dusk this time of year. This Saturday, barely after sunrise, one was plucking breakfast.
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Old Sunday 12th December 2010, 21:48   #3
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Had a quick check of all my Peregrine observations, and it seems I've seen them mostly at around noon or late morning. I've seen all my hunting Peregrines between 8:55 and 14:45. However, not sure if this means they're more active at that time, or if it's just me being more active then.
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Old Sunday 12th December 2010, 22:56   #4
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Thanks, that's great - just the kind of comments I was after. Hopefully others will have more to add. The time of day that different people are out birdwatching is obviously going to be a significant complicating factor, so the more input the better. I don't know how many people on here generally record the actual time of these kind of sightings, but thinking about it it's definitely something I'll try to pay more attention to in future.
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Old Monday 13th December 2010, 09:51   #5
MJB
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Originally Posted by King Edward View Post
Does anyone have any information about the times of day Peregrines tend to be most active? Hunting especially - does this generally take place at any time, or more often during certain parts of the day? Any personal observations would be great, or references to any published information.
Peregrines are partly opportunistic, in that if they leave their roost (at this time of year) hungry and find a wandering meal flying by, then the energy costs are low. Many have sets of 'routine patrols' that they prefer, and like Eurasian Sparrowhawks, they rarely fly the same hunting route on successive days so as to keep the awareness levels of potential prey low. Clearly, Peregrines that always took the same route would find prey harder to get and so would run a higher risk of starving. Nevertheless, where potential prey is always abundant, such as on wildfowl and wader winter roosts, some Peregrines may well hunt regularly, but often after the ducks or waders have eaten and are resting to digest their food.

So, the answer to your question is not quite 'how long is a piece of string', but rather that Peregrine hunting behaviour in winter may be site- or prey-dependent. Years ago on the Culbin Sands in Moray, a Peregrine would appear high in the sky at about 13.30, when the sun was low and thousands of wildfowl and waders in large, tight assemblies on the sandbanks were settling down (darkness at that latitude was 14.30 at this time of year). The bird would stoop and then hurtle over the assemblages at speed, less than a metre above them. It would then turn tightly and seek out any individual bird not quite a part of the airborne flocks. It was succesful about every other time, but it did seem sometimes that it had already fed, for then its fast passes were at 5 or 10 metres and its pursuits less determined. In anthropomorphic terms, it appeared to be 'playing'.

You may need to develop fieldcraft to watch any wintering Peregrine regularly!
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Old Monday 13th December 2010, 18:44   #6
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MJB, you are describing what Dick Treleaven (a doyen of British Peregrine watchers) termed the Peregrines "High Intensity" and "Low Intensity" hunting.

Treleaven suggested that hunting takes place at two levels of intensity, with the success rate being much higher with high intensity hunting, the function of low intensity hunting being to keep the Peregrine in good practice for when it really needed to feed. He published this theory in a paper and also discusses it in his book "In Pursuit of the Peregrine" (sadly out of print).

In my observations of a pair of Peregrines this year they usually came out to hunt from 10am-11:30am (ish) and then again from 1400-1530 (ish!), but I would only be seeing them from 8am until 19:00.
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Old Tuesday 14th December 2010, 09:31   #7
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[quote=demondog;2004306]MJB, you are describing what Dick Treleaven (a doyen of British Peregrine watchers) termed the Peregrines "High Intensity" and "Low Intensity" hunting.

[quote]

Indeed you are quite right, and although I couldn't recall the name when I was posting, it does bring back memories. Also, the late, lamented Derek Ratcliffe was always a fund of stories of his and others' observations. I just wish I had been able to talk to him more often when he visited the BTO in the late 1990s.
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Old Tuesday 14th December 2010, 09:56   #8
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MJB has explained this very well, Peregrine will have a certain hunting routine where they are successful.

The birds within Chichester Harbour in winter will certainly hunt at dusk and probably into the night. This is because the area is so well lit by artificial light. Their prey species are illuminated against the lights on the harbour's flat roosting islands.

It probably explains why there are so many here in winter, dinner is served up on a candle-lit plate.
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Old Wednesday 15th December 2010, 10:24   #9
demondog
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Indeed you are quite right, and although I couldn't recall the name when I was posting, it does bring back memories. Also, the late, lamented Derek Ratcliffe was always a fund of stories of his and others' observations. I just wish I had been able to talk to him more often when he visited the BTO in the late 1990s.
MJB[/quote]

It would be great if someone could update Derek Ratcliffe's Poyser Monograph "The Peregrine Falcon".
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Old Wednesday 15th December 2010, 21:56   #10
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Thanks for all the contributions on here. I have actually just ordered Ratcliffe's Peregrine monograph a couple of days ago (2nd edition, secondhand off Amazon), so hopefully that will arrive quite soon. His Raven one, which I have already, is excellent.
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Old Friday 31st December 2010, 12:51   #11
Chosun Juan
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Hey King Ed,

I recently joined BF on monday - lo and behold 4 days later through some wonderous act of serendipity...........I see the first peregrine falcon at this location in the 7 years I've been poking around here! (I've included a link to the post below).
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=188754

I've only ever seen 3 in my life - this one, and 2 in the Blue Mountains, NSW a decade or so ago - not that I go out looking for them.

I have an excellent book called "Australian Birds of Prey" by noted researcher Penny Olsen, UNSW press 1995, (hardcover, 256pgs, ~foolscap size) which also contains beautiful drawings by Humphrey Price -Jones and many superb photos by the way.

In her book Dr. Olsen states that raptors usually hunt at a time when their prey is most vulnerable.............such as when returning to evening roosts etc.
She also says that a Melbourne pair were recorded bringing insects back to the nest all night long......

The usual falcon seen in these parts is the "Little Falcon" (Australian Hobby) which are kind of like little mini peregrines. They are known to be highly crepuscular. Apparently the peregrine is too.

Certainly I've seen Little Falcons (female 36cm) take crested pigeons here (near as dammit the same size!) after sunset (ended up that dark I was stumbling around like an old drunk!)

This evenings peregrine was seen just before(15~20mins) sunset - I believe (she?) was just having a bit of a look around as I don't think they've been here before in my time (The place is fairly jam packed with breeding Little Eagle pair, and breeding Nankeen Kestrel pair, and this year breeding Spotted Harrier pair, as well as previously Black -Shouldered Kites have bred here before moving on last year. Add to this the frequent Brown Goshawks, Collared Sparrowhawks and passing Wedge -tailed Eagles and you can imagine there's not a whole lot of spare tucker or territory; and a fair amount of squabbling going on!)

The two peregrines I saw in the Blue Mountains were in daylight:
(1) about mid morning at Wentworth Falls along one of the cliff top bushwalking tracks - a huge whoosh and blurred stoop shape disappearing over the cliff.........wasn't sure if I was being razzed or if it was after some other tucker - I didn't hang around to find out!
(2) was daydreaming, sitting in my front garden overlooking a small valley in the Lower Blue Mountains about mid -afternoon - an almighty whoosh about 40m away............a full on vertical stoop from several hundred metres up - and a god only knows how many g turn followed by a feral pigeon exploding in a cloud of feathers!
I would estimate the speed of the diving attack at around 200 to 240km/hr (~125 to 150mph).

It never ceases to amaze me that raptors that are so dependent on the continuing integrity of their eyes, go barrelling through the woodlands at high speed after sunset!

Chosun
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Old Friday 31st December 2010, 18:14   #12
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Originally Posted by King Edward View Post
Does anyone have any information about the times of day Peregrines tend to be most active? Hunting especially - does this generally take place at any time, or more often during certain parts of the day? Any personal observations would be great, or references to any published information.
Hi King Edward,

At this time of the year, I've observed Peregrines actively hunting and taking a variety of prey in every hour of daylight (and beyond!). Local weather conditions are far more important than time of day and you can use this knowledge to your advantage if you wish to specifically observe hunting activity. The age of a falcon also has a major influence on its behaviour, with apparently bonding or bonded adult pairs currently spending long periods together at wintering areas, far away from any breeding cliffs. So there are lots of exciting interaction activities to observe, even when they're not actually hunting. Two more tips worth bearing in mind: a) Find concentrations of suitable prey and Peregrines will come to you; and, b) Remain behind when other birders go home, Peregrines have a habit of hunting at dusk (and beyond) but they are very difficult to observe in such conditions.

Good luck!
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Old Friday 31st December 2010, 18:40   #13
mike from ebbw
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At the nest sites I monitor I try to get to my observation point before dawn especially when there are chicks to observe and log feeding habits.At one site this year the female had already made the kill and fed the young long before I had got there.There was an obvious pattern though and pre dawn hunting and feeding only happened on bright sunny days due to better visibility.
This time of year though Peregrines will be at their wintering grounds at the coast/estuaries where the highest density of prey is such as Waders and Wildfowl.Some do hang around at their nest sites through the Winter though if prey is available.
To answer your main question would be an absolute guess.So many factors have to come into play such as:
1)Prey Size-Large prey (Wildfowl etc) would obviously last longer so the Peregrine would need to hunt less often.
2)Weather-No Raptor likes to hunt in adverse weather due to feather damage and bad visibility.
3)Winter-Less daylight hours in Winter ensures the need to hunt more often starting as early as possible in the morning especially when only small prey species are available.The cold weather also means the need for a higher intake of calories if you like for survival.
4)Competition-Where there are Peregrines you can guarantee there are other Raptors/Opportunists to take advantage of a fresh Peregrine kill.On two occasions this year I observed Ravens `pushin` a female Peregrine off a substantial sized kill.

All these factors and more add to the complexity of what should really be a simple question.My advice would be to get out there,enjoy them and log your findings.You will soon see a pattern emerging yourself as it is different for every single bird.Hope this helps.

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Last edited by mike from ebbw : Friday 31st December 2010 at 18:42. Reason: Spelt `Different``Differnet`,too much Champagne too early ;)
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Old Friday 31st December 2010, 21:20   #14
King Edward
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Thanks to everyone to the replies on this. About a week ago I did spot what I think was a 1st winter Peregrine after sunset, flying very purposefully over a local floodplain area. Not actually chasing anything in the brief time I saw it, but it definitely looked as if it had food on its mind. Unfortunately I've been ill since then and haven't been able to go out, but with luck I might see it there again.
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Old Sunday 2nd January 2011, 19:59   #15
Andy in West Oz
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My most recent encounter with a Peregrine was a little over a year ago now. Middle of the day, pretty warm and I was driving a truck out an open cut. I believe - from other observations during my short time at this mine - there was a Peregrine pair nesting in the high wall. Anyway, my encounter consisted of one the birds taking offence to my truck and scaring it off. Quite enjoyed some very good views of the bird.
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Old Monday 10th January 2011, 14:07   #16
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http://derbyperegrines.blogspot.com/

Derbys Peregrines have taken to feeding at night - some great info on the blog.

Some footage includes a Woodcock being brought back alive at night and despatched.
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