There was a nice moment this afternoon when the parents were sat together in the oak tree. The only time I usually see them in close proximity is when they are squabbling over food! I think it was the case of a common enemy bringing them together.
The falcon was chasing around a Buzzard calling loudly, so the tiercel appeared and together the chased off the large hawk. It is interesting that they don’t tolerate Buzzards near the gorge at this stage. The two birds of prey are not really in competition for most of their prey, so it is more likely to be to do with protection of the eyasses.
At this age, the young are too large for the Buzzard to be a threat, they can fight back! It must just be the case of better safe than sorry. The falcon particularly has been extremely protective of the nest throughout the season. In the first 2 weeks of the chicks lives, she didn’t even let the tiercel near them!
In North West Scotland, Golden Eagles are known to take fledgling peregrines. So adult peregrines know that other birds of prey can be a threat. They don’t even like Ospreys, who are almost entirely fish eaters! Interestingly they didn’t seem too bothered about the Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over their heads. Large gulls are known to eat young to medium sized chicks (thankfully not eyasses at their current size) of many bird species, which they swallow whole!
Once the Buzzard was gone, it seemed both adults wanted to keep a look out. They were calling to each other, but I am not sure what this meant. It wasn’t an alarm call and it wasn’t the falcon giving out a begging call. It was probably just a mixture of everything is ok and contact calls
As for the juvenile falcons, they are still incapable of flying despite their best efforts! They need to lose a bit more down and grow their rather stubby flight feathers, but it won’t be long now!
Tom Wells – Peregrine Protection Officer