It is looking increasing unlikely that the peregrines are going to try attempt to breed again this year. Although birds having been exhibiting some courtship behaviour everyday this past week, it has been very brief and doesn’t seem to have escalated from beyond the beak ‘kissing’ stage into anything more serious.
The current birds have been the resident pair here for 9 years now and have successfully fledged 23 eyasses (including 3 foster chicks) over that time. You could argue that they are likely to have developed quite a strong pair bond and therefore don’t need much courtship to renew their bond before breeding each year. Having said this, the pairs courtship would take place in late February to early March and mainly due to unforeseen caravan circumstances I wasn’t present at peregrine watch site much during that period. We officially opened this year watch on 23rd March and most courtship behaviour had finished by then so I cant really say for sure.
Either way, despite the pair still exhibiting some courtship behaviour it has not been limited and not with the urgency they would need to start laying again anytime soon. If they where to successfully mate, lay, hatch, raise, fledge and train their young eyasses to hunt. Mathematically this would take them into late September to early October. Not leaving a lot of time to get the young in best possible condition and ready to fend for themselves for harsh Scottish winters ahead.
If by some amazing stroke of luck we all got to enjoy a extended summer or perhaps a late Indian (second) summer and it stayed unseasonably warm and dry enough they would still need a lot of late broods of breeding prey birds, especially starlings, of which the juveniles, are the favorite prey species the tiercel to catch for his young. In short, the way this weeks weathers shaping up, we need a miracle and a umbrella would be good too.
Traditionally the watch point would officially be closing this weekend and tomorrow would be the final show as the any young would have fledge by now and there would be not any guaranteed view of juvenile or adult birds. However the adults are often still present at the watch point and me and the volunteers are still keen to see what happens next. Therefore we have decided to keep the peregrine diversions from the bottoms footpaths in place for another week or so to avoid any unnecessary disturbance to the birds whilst there are still visible, although not actively nesting at the watch point site.
The peregrine volunteers team have also opted to persevere for another week, peregrines permitting of course. If you to get the opportunity to walk up the peregrine watch point this week you might be lucky enough to find a volunteers with a telescope and hopefully they can still bring you the best views of wild peregrine falcons in UK (legally). They might even sell you a packet of mature cheese and onion crisps or shinny peregrine pin badge if you like, other pin badges and flavors available whilst stocks last.
Watch point is open as normally 10am – 8pm tomorrow, providing we don’t get washed away. Then open by volunteers during the week, Id recommend late mornings (after 10) and early afternoons (before 5) for best chance to see the peregrines and a volunteer. Although some extra keen ones many stay later in the evening if its sunny and there people to make smile. We will do our best to keep you posted of any changes.
Other highlights at watch point today have included very close views of a pair of treecreepers and a wood mouse foraging away despite the wet weather.
Hope for better news and weather soon.
Adam Murphy – Peregrine Ranger