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Very narrow escape for a male Hen Harrier! (1 Viewer)

Ptarmi

Dick Glasgow
On Friday evening, after 90 minutes away hunting, the male returned to the nest site & she rose, calling for food & after a few circles with her chasing him, he dropped it & she caught it.

Of course, this beautiful display, on such a gorgeous evening was well worth waiting for, but the best was yet to come!

She flew off & landed about 50 yards from the nest to eat, while he kept circling & landing on the nest for a few seconds, then rising & flying off to perch on a tree for a few seconds, then he'd circle again, hover over the nest each time before landing in it again, but just staying in there for a few seconds, before repeating the whole process. I'd seen this sort of behaviour a few times already this week, so I'd no reason to want to get yet another distant, fuzzy photo of this behaviour, so I watching him in far better detail through my Binoculars.

Anyway, the 5th time he did this, he came in as always, into the wind & hovered just a couple of feet above the nest, before dropping in, but this last time, as he was just about to drop in, he suddenly & violently swerved to his right as a female Peregrine crashed right past him, at the end of her stoop! I couldn't believe my eyes. She came in like a bolt from the blue, & had clearly been going in for the kill, but he perhaps ... & very fortunately, had maybe heard her coming in, just at the last second & had, thank goodness, swerved just in time to save himself. Anyway, quick as a flash he composed himself & immediately gave chase, but agile as he is, he was just no match for her speed & maneuverability. She made good use of some nearby trees, as he saw her off. By this time, I'd reached for my camera, but as they were amongst the tree tops, I just didn't get a chance of a shot of them together. All I got was one of her flying away & one of him patrolling the immediate nest area afterwards.

After a short while, he flew out & landed in the Heather, about 20 yards from the nest & after a couple of minutes, she rose up again, after her meal, having missed all the excitement. She flew around a couple of times & then flew in low across the Heather & straight at him, causing him to jump out of the way to avoid a collision, as if he hadn't had enough excitement for one day!

Anyway, they sat still together for about 5 minutes & then she flew back to the nest & he flew off into a tree.

It was an absolutely amazing incident to witness. I could hardly believe what I'd seen & literally pinched myself to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep & had just dreamt it!

I googled to see if I could find out how common this was, but could only find this article, which tells of a young Harrier being taken by a Peregrine, so clearly it has happened before, but interestingly another sentence caught my eye:

"We have talked to birders who have watched harriers and peregrines for donkeys years and they have never come across anything like this."

Endangered Hen Harrier killed by peregrine!

Also, I have since learned that the remains of a Hen Harrier were found at a Peregrine nest, here in Northern Ireland, back in the 1980s.

So, I was very lucky indeed to have witnessed another of those magical birding moments, we all just live for, but I was very relieved indeed that the male managed to survive this deadly attack, as clearly he was just a split 2nd away from death!

Of course, I don't grudge the Peregrine his meal, I'd just prefer it if she chose a more common species for her next target.[/URL]
 

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On Friday evening, after 90 minutes away hunting, the male returned to the nest site & she rose, calling for food & after a few circles with her chasing him, he dropped it & she caught it.

Of course, this beautiful display, on such a gorgeous evening was well worth waiting for, but the best was yet to come!

She flew off & landed about 50 yards from the nest to eat, while he kept circling & landing on the nest for a few seconds, then rising & flying off to perch on a tree for a few seconds, then he'd circle again, hover over the nest each time before landing in it again, but just staying in there for a few seconds, before repeating the whole process. I'd seen this sort of behaviour a few times already this week, so I'd no reason to want to get yet another distant, fuzzy photo of this behaviour, so I watching him in far better detail through my Binoculars.

Anyway, the 5th time he did this, he came in as always, into the wind & hovered just a couple of feet above the nest, before dropping in, but this last time, as he was just about to drop in, he suddenly & violently swerved to his right as a female Peregrine crashed right past him, at the end of her stoop! I couldn't believe my eyes. She came in like a bolt from the blue, & had clearly been going in for the kill, but he perhaps ... & very fortunately, had maybe heard her coming in, just at the last second & had, thank goodness, swerved just in time to save himself. Anyway, quick as a flash he composed himself & immediately gave chase, but agile as he is, he was just no match for her speed & maneuverability. She made good use of some nearby trees, as he saw her off. By this time, I'd reached for my camera, but as they were amongst the tree tops, I just didn't get a chance of a shot of them together. All I got was one of her flying away & one of him patrolling the immediate nest area afterwards.

After a short while, he flew out & landed in the Heather, about 20 yards from the nest & after a couple of minutes, she rose up again, after her meal, having missed all the excitement. She flew around a couple of times & then flew in low across the Heather & straight at him, causing him to jump out of the way to avoid a collision, as if he hadn't had enough excitement for one day!

Anyway, they sat still together for about 5 minutes & then she flew back to the nest & he flew off into a tree.

It was an absolutely amazing incident to witness. I could hardly believe what I'd seen & literally pinched myself to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep & had just dreamt it!

I googled to see if I could find out how common this was, but could only find this article, which tells of a young Harrier being taken by a Peregrine, so clearly it has happened before, but interestingly another sentence caught my eye:



Endangered Hen Harrier killed by peregrine!

Also, I have since learned that the remains of a Hen Harrier were found at a Peregrine nest, here in Northern Ireland, back in the 1980s.

So, I was very lucky indeed to have witnessed another of those magical birding moments, we all just live for, but I was very relieved indeed that the male managed to survive this deadly attack, as clearly he was just a split 2nd away from death!

Of course, I don't grudge the Peregrine his meal, I'd just prefer it if she chose a more common species for her next target.[/URL]

Great event to witness, I had a female Hen Harrier on territory attack a female Peregrine which had perched on a fence post too close to the nest site. It literally knocked the Peregrine into the air, I think the Peregrine was so shocked she flew off in disgrace.
 
When Hen Harrier Ireland heard my story, they sent me this link.

"Our data thus shows an increase of predation rate of harriers by Peregrines; we discuss whether this could be related to the increasing use of wing tags in this species, and thus whether wing tags may have potential negative effects on the birds."

... are patagial wing tags a potential predator attraction for harriers?

I'd say that this was surely clear evidence that the use of Wing Tags, especially in areas where Hen Harriers are struggling, should cease immediately, if not permanently, at the very least, until proper studies have been carried out.

Cheers,
Dick
 
When Hen Harrier Ireland heard my story, they sent me this link.



... are patagial wing tags a potential predator attraction for harriers?

I'd say that this was surely clear evidence that the use of Wing Tags, especially in areas where Hen Harriers are struggling, should cease immediately, if not permanently, at the very least, until proper studies have been carried out.

Cheers,
Dick
Would be interesting to know whether predation of harriers, wing-tagged or not, by other predators (e.g. Goshawk) has increased as well in the area.
In any case, I didn't know that Peregrines took other birds of prey that often.
 
Would be interesting to know whether predation of harriers, wing-tagged or not, by other predators (e.g. Goshawk) has increased as well in the area.
In any case, I didn't know that Peregrines took other birds of prey that often.


This is a very interesting thread. " How often do peregrines take other Birds of Prey ". I've often wondered about the decline of Kestrels in urban areas. I can remember back in the 1970's when the only likely bird of prey to be seen in a city environment was a Kestrel. Now in London you have more chance of seeing a Peregrine , I'm wondering if they are the more dominant predator .
 
But do wing tags provide any extra protection against Hen Harrier's major predator Homo sapiens saltuarius? Tags can = radio transmitters, can = more options for prosecutions, can = reluctance on the part of the predator to kill?? . . .

Even a very small beneficial effect would greatly outweigh predation by Peregrines and Gos.
 
That's an astonishing thing to witness! I had no idea Peregrines would go for harriers. I have seen a Brown Hare attack a (juvenile) Marsh Harrier - even leaping a few feet in the air like a cat as the Harrier took off.

But do wing tags provide any extra protection against Hen Harrier's major predator Homo sapiens saltuarius? Tags can = radio transmitters, can = more options for prosecutions, can = reluctance on the part of the predator to kill?? .

Sadly, I don't think these are any deterents against human persecution. Not helped that DEFRA refused to publish data on where tagged Hen Harriers had been killed.
 
What a amazing thing to witness and it does make you think about what other BoP do Peregrines take, but surely has most of our urban Peregrines' nest sites are under CCTV, prey brought in to the nest would be seen on camera, or has it already been seen ?. Be interesting to know if anyone has any reports of this.

Damian.
 
Amazing to have witnessed such an event. In many, many hours of watching and surveying hen harriers never saw anything like it. Glad he escaped though, spectacular as it was.

Phil
 
I've seen a Peregrine target a Marsh Harrier over Aberdeen some years back. The Harrier was soaring about 50 to 60 feet up and the Peregrine streaked in from nowhere, and appeared either to hit or feint at the Harrier, which was robbed of its composure for a few seconds. As the Peregrine then left the scene and didn't try a second time I assumed it was territorial.

Cheers
 
What a amazing thing to witness and it does make you think about what other BoP do Peregrines take, but surely has most of our urban Peregrines' nest sites are under CCTV, prey brought in to the nest would be seen on camera, or has it already been seen ?. Be interesting to know if anyone has any reports of this.

Damian.

I certainly remember reading (in BBC Wildlife) that the Bristol peregrines had kestrel remains in their nest a few years back but I'd think it more likely that with wheelie bins becoming ubiquitous there's a lot less food around for urban mouse/vole populations to be as high as they once were.
 
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