Despite all the heavy rain, hunting managed to go ahead today. The adults used the short dry periods to good affect and enough prey was brought in for the family, including a pigeon by the falcon. Exploration was reduced for the young falcons for much of the afternoon as they sat and slept in a sheltered area of the cliff face.
When it is not raining heavily the youngsters are now exploring further and further away from the nest site. They can also be found sitting in the trees upriver of the site. With the nesting season now over, the watch site will close this coming monday. By next week the youngsters will be absent for large periods, so come see them while you can this weekend!
If you were at the reserve it is possible you may see the juveniles flying around, before you get to the watch site. So how would you know that your looking at a young bird? Even in flight you can see that the underparts are browner and less bright than the adults. The young birds are weaker fliers and do not fly with the same purpose as an adult. Young peregrines have a pale band at the tip of their tail (on top). If your lucky you may also see the young birds playing around in the air!
The browner tones of the juvenile in flight, actually make them easier to see from underneath. The bright white of the adults makes them difficult to see against a bright sky, an advantage when hunting prey that is below you. For the juveniles their colour is likely to be a trade off. Brown enough not to be seen by predators when perched, but light enough to not be seen by too many of their avian quarry when they start to hunt.
Tom Wells – Peregrine Protection Officer